A collection of some fifty years and seasons by the renowned couturier is characterized by a certain reserve and evidence of the compelling ambition of the man from the provinces who made the fashion world his province. Pierre Balmain grew up outside of Paris, the only son of a much loved mother who had lost her husband young. He came to Paris to study architecture, soon switched to designing under Molyneux, at his peak in the 1930's. Even the war and service duty did not interrupt his career, Then came a stretch at Lelong, where he worked with Dior and enjoyed a friendship that did not survive their mutual moves to independence and houses of their own. Balmain gave his first showing on October, 12, 1945 (Madame Gres was gracious enough to change her date for a newcomer). He has since dressed such ladies of the theatre as Vivien Leigh, Carroll Baker, Lilli Palmer; taken the responsibility for the wardrobe of the Queen of Thailand and for a number of ""Jolie Madames"" in Europe, the United States and South America. Balmain today presides at Rue Francois let and a house in Croissy. One senses that he is established rather than one of the Establishment; his story lacks a trend-setting appeal.