Cristóbal Balenciaga, who is a designer born in Guetaria, Spain, and is founder of luxury fashion house Balenciaga, wanted women of strong character to wear his designs. His manipulation of the waist, in particular, contributed to "what is considered to be his most important contribution to the world of fashion: a new silhouette for women." BALENCIAGA began when Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his first boutique in San Sebastián, Spain in 1918, which expanded to include branches in Madrid and Barcelona. When the Spanish Civil War forced the boutiques to close, he moved to Paris. Here, his success was almost immediate with customers travelling across Europe risking their safety, during a wartime period, to see his designs. BALENCIAGA is known for setting trends rather than following them: Cristóbal Balenciaga pioneered the baby doll, tunic and waistless 'sack' dress. The brand is now owned by the French multinational company Kering.