Balenciaga Sunglasses, Shaping Haute Couture Eyewear History

Balenciaga Sunglasses, Shaping Haute Couture Eyewear History

Renowned for its avant-garde and unconventional designs, the Balenciaga fashion brand is no stranger to the luxury eyewear market. Using the latest technologies to create some of the most innovative eyewear designs, the Spanish fashion house is always one step ahead of the industry. With its roots in haute couture, Balenciaga comes in full circle with its latest Couture Eyewear collection that pioneers the step towards haute couture eyewear.

Read on for a rundown of Balenciaga’s history, eyewear craftsmanship, its most popular designs, and a list of the brand’s celebrity clientele.

Brand History

The Balenciaga luxury fashion house was founded in 1919 by couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, who was referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior, and “the only couturier in the truest sense of the word” by Coco Chanel. 

 He was “The King of Fashion” and was one of the great masterminds of his time.

Cristobal Balenciaga

Balenciaga was born in 1895 in Getaria, Spain. As a child, he often spent time with his mother, who was a seamstress with an impressive clientele base. He started working as a tailor’s apprentice at the age of twelve. When he was a teenager, he served Marchioness de Casa Torres, the foremost noblewoman in his town, who sent him to Spain to be formally trained in tailoring. 

In 1919, Balenciaga opened a boutique in San Sebastián, which then expanded to outlets in Madrid and Barcelona. He named it ‘Eisa’ after his mother’s maiden name ‘Eisaguirre’. Unfortunately, the Spanish Civil War forced the closure of his boutiques, so Balenciaga moved to Paris and opened a couture house on Avenue George V in 1937. This was where the House of Balenciaga was launched, and of where he gained the title “The Master” of haute couture.

Balenciaga Chemise Dress

While he was already successful then, his work only really took off in 1951, when he transformed the female silhouette by broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. Another revolutionary work of his is the tunic dress in 1955, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1957. One of his works in 1959 also culminated the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimono. Balenciaga’s mark in the fashion world was so significant, it’s no surprise his list of clientele boasted big names, including some of the world’s wealthiest women, actresses, socialites, and royals. 

At the age of 74, in 1968, Balenciaga closed his house after working in Paris for three decades, which surprised everyone, including his own employees. He justified the closing with his habitual clinical brevity: “High fashion is mortally wounded”. He went back to Spain, where he passed away in 1972. On the day of his death, magazine Women’s Wear Daily ran the headline “The King is Dead”. 

There have been many exhibitions dedicated to Balenciaga’s works after he passed, including the “Balenciaga and Spain” that showcased 120 pieces of fashion works of his career. There is also the Balenciaga Museum that opened in 2011 in his hometown of Getaria by Queen Sofia. 

Revival of the “Balenciaga” brand

Normally, that would be the end of the story, but the closing of Balenciaga’s high fashion house didn’t mean the end of the Balenciaga brand. It was inactive for two decades, until 1986 when Jacques Konckier of the The Bogart Group acquired the rights to the brand. The Balenciaga we know now is separate from the high fashion house, but the relevance of its creator is “his sense of proportion and measurement, and his vision and interpretation of the female body have anointed him as one of the more influential designers of all time.”

Balenciaga Kering

In 2001, French luxury goods manufacturer Kering acquired the rights to the brand, and the company still owns Balenciaga to this day. Balenciaga had went through multiple creative directors including Michel Goma, Alexander Wang, and Nicolas Ghesquière Since 2015, Denma Gvasalia has been the head designer to lead the brand. 

The brand now comprises high-fashion products, ready-to-wear, jewels, accessories, and perfumery — the last two being the main products of the brand.

Licensing of the Balenciaga eyewear line

The accessories line makes up a huge part of the Balenciaga brand, and Balenciaga’s eyewear line is one of the most sought-after products of the brand. The company has gone through multiple partnerships for the eyewear licence over the years. 

Balenciaga Eyewear Saflio 2007

In 2007, Balenciaga and Safilo Group, a worldwide leader in the premium eyewear sector, collaborated on eyewear styles featured in the Spring Summer 2007 fashion show in Paris, with a design that was a re-edition of a vintage 1970s pair. The duo announced the licensing partnership for Balenciaga eyewear not long after, with the agreement to run until the end of 2012. 

Balenciaga Eyewear Marcolin

At the start of 2012, Safilo Group announced that the licensing would not be renewed. Around the same time, Balenciaga announced its partnership with Italian manufacturer Marcolin, one of the best-known companies in the eyewear industry, with an agreement to design, produce and distribute eyewear with the Balenciaga brand for five years.

Balenciaga president and chief executive officer Isabelle Guichot said the Marcolin agreement “echoes our conviction with Nicolas Ghesquière that eyewear is definitely an essential fashion accessory which must be translated and marketed as such respecting brand vocabulary and iconic codes.”

Taking Balenciaga eyewear in-house 

In 2018, Balenciaga ended its eyewear licence agreement with Marcolin and partnered up with the eyewear branch of Balenciaga’s parent company, Kering Eyewear. Kering launched a key strategic initiative in 2014 to develop eyewear products for its luxury houses in-house and ultimately not share profits with third-party licensees.

CEO and president of Kering Eyewear Robverto Vedovotto stated that Balenciaga is “one of the most authentic and innovative brands in the fashion industry and the last Kering brand with an eyewear presence that was not yet managed by Kering Eyewear.”


With over a century-long history, there’s a certain expectation for the quality of Balenciaga’s products. Especially with the fashion house’s high reputation and history of haute couture, the eyewear line already has a high baseline for minimum standards. Balenciaga’s eyewear line meets and exceeds this expectation, having worked with the world’s best eyewear manufacturers in the world. 

Since Balenciaga’s eyewear line is now made in-house since 2018, the production team and design team are working closely now more than ever to produce some of the best eyewear products in the brand’s history. 

Kering manufacturing

Ever since 2018, Balenciaga’s eyewear line is manufactured by its parent company’s eyewear brand, Kering Eyewear. The company began as only a startup in 2014. Despite being a relatively young company, it has grown tremendously with the support of the Kering Group. The eyewear company has some of the best professionals as part of their team, and has an extraordinary portfolio of 17 luxury brands including Maui Jim, Lindberg, and ZEAL Optics. With the best network of suppliers, it is now one of the best luxury eyewear companies in the world.

Kering also prioritises sustainability in its processes and invests tremendously in research and development. It constantly launches new innovations to develop sourcing solutions and production processes using new technologies. With the effort put into creating change and improvement, Kering Eyewear will no doubt be among the top eyewear manufacturers in the future.


The design and style has been the top factor that makes Balenciaga eyewear products successful. The brand’s designers have consistently voiced the importance of maintaining the founder’s design elements in the brand. Making riskier decisions and taking risks in terms of the design is what Cristóbal had done when he was in charge of the fashion house — current designers choose to follow in his footsteps.

Balenciaga eyewear designs are always ahead of the trend game, and use dramatic lines to disrupt conventional shapes — just like the master Cristóbal did. With the manufacturing being done in-house as well, the design team can work closely with the production team to bring the best ideations to life.

Top Balenciaga Glasses and Sunglasses Designs

On red carpets and everyday streets, Balenciaga eyewear can be seen just about everywhere and on everyone. True to the brand’s original artistic direction, the glasses and sunglasses of Balenciaga often embody modern realism and avant-garde direction. The combination of classic shapes with ultra-fashionable ones is what makes Balenciaga eyewear so easily recognisable. 

Below are some of the top Balenciaga glasses and sunglasses designs.

LED Frame Sunglasses (BB0100S)

Balenciaga Eyewear LED Sunglasses

Introduced in the Balenciaga Summer 2020 Eyewear collection, the LED Frame Sunglasses is highly sought after, inspired by light-up sneakers popular in the 90s. This design is extremely popular because it is one of the first of its kind, combining technology with fashion that’s accessible to the masses. This sleek style, made in Italy, features a multicolour ‘BALENCIAGA’ logo illuminated with an LED System on the left temple, an innovative way of utilising technology in an eyewear product. The frame is a bold, rectangular frame made of nylon, with lenses that are 100% UVA/UVB protected.

Swift Oval Sunglasses (BB0157S)

 Balenciaga Swift Oval Sungalsses

This design is an extremely popular one among celebrities, including Kim Kardashian. The Swift Oval Sunglasses has a sleek, swift round shape made of 65% bio-based nylon. The signature ‘BALENCIAGA’ logo is layered on the right lens as well as engraved and enamelled on the left temple. Coming in two different colourways, black and silver, this design gives off a futuristic, elegant vibe. The Swift Oval Sunglasses is simple yet fashionable, an essential accessory to instantly elevate one’s look in any occasion.

Mono Rectangle Sunglasses (BB0041S) 

 Balenciaga Mono Rectangle Sunglasses

The Mono Rectangle Sunglasses is another wrapping design of a frame, one that looks extremely chic and classy. Coming in two colourways of black and silver, the full lens narrow rectangle mask design comes in a standard fit with extra wrapping in a thick lens. The signature ‘BALENCIAGA’ logo is laser engraves in low relief and enamelled on the left temple, providing unique details to the style. The nose pads are adjustable, and also with a BB-printed logo. This design is another great piece to accessorise any look instantly.

Ski Rectangular Sunglasses (BB0003S)

Balenciaga Ski Rectangular Sunglasses

For those who love to show off the brands they wear, the Ski Rectangular Sunglasses is the perfect way to do it. This style is similar to the Mono Rectangle Sunglasses, but with a little more detailing. The signature logo is enamelled on the center front of the frame, along with a  stripe on the top bar. There is also another logo engraved and enamelled on the left end tip. This design is a narrow flat top rectangle-shaped mask with a flat full lens modern frontal. Made of acetate with 100% UVA/UVB protection, this style comes in two colourways: black and white/silver.

Dynasty Sunglasses 

 Balenciaga Dynasty Sunglasses

A design that’s a little more flashy is the Dynasty Sunglasses. It comes in 7 different colourways: red, pink, white, yellow, pearly white, brown, and black. This style features a rectangle-shaped frame made of acetate with 100% UVA/UVB protection. The main attraction of this design is the hidden hinges within the BB logo at the side. There is also a lasered logo on the right lens for an added touch. This style of frame is suitable for optical conversion for those who would prefer to add power to the lens.  

Side Xpander Cat Sunglasses (BB0289S)

Balenciaga Side Xpander Cat Sunglasses  

The Side Xpander Cat Sunglasses is a more avant-garde style featuring cutaway frames with exposed rims. This frame is in a cat shape and is made of nylon with the logo engraved on the left temple. Coming in four colourways of red, black, blue, and nude, this style is a revamped version of the popular XPander BB0202S, as seen on runways and with celebrities. This revamped version is more modern and stylised, which is a better fit with the Balenciaga aesthetic.

Mask Butterfly Sunglasses 

 Balenciaga Mask Butterfly Sunglasses

This style has made its rounds on the red carpet and the internet. Dozens of celebrities have been spotted wearing it, and online and offline publications have featured it just as many times. The Mask Butterfly Sunglasses features an oversized butterfly mask shape with the signature ‘BALENCIAGA’ logo embossed on the left temple. Made of nylon, this design of covering a large part of the face is part of the reason behind large sunglasses being trendy again. 

The Exclusive Balenciaga Couture Eyewear

In 2021, the Balenciaga House returned to its couture roots by launching the Balenciaga Couture collection, a celebration of fashion at its finest. It was a “minute of silence to the heritage of Cristobal Balenciaga.” Among the clothing pieces for the Autumn Winter 21/22 collection were a handful of eyewear pieces that played more of a supporting role. One of the Couture Eyewear pieces has not only been seen on the runway but also on celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Nicole Kidman. The internet exploded, and this particular design of sunglasses was high in demand and was selling out as fast as they were restocked. 


Now, in 2023, for the first time ever in history, eyewear is no more a supporting role but a part of the Balenciaga Couture collection, featured in the 52nd Couture Collection. While the main products of the couture collection are clothing, eyewear products consist a decent chunk of it . The designs include classic sunglasses that are recast in precious metals. 

 Balenciaga Couture Eyewear Regata

Some of the most significant designs include the Regata Sunglasses, in solid, die-cast 18k gold, made in Italy. This delicate, rounded, metal frame is reminiscent of eyewear worn in traditional elite sports. The mirrored lenses are made of bio-nylon and offer 100% UVA/UVB protection, and are also coated in gold.

 Balenciaga Couture Eyewear HRH

Another iconic style is the HRH Sunglasses, short for ‘His/Her Royal Highness’. This design features the wraparound style that the brand is popular for. It comes in galvanic 18k gold or palladium-plated milled aluminium, made in Italy. The lines of this design are characterised by an aerodynamic-shaped frame, and the bio-nylon lenses are platinum-coated.

Both designs mentioned above scream haute couture, which only means that Balenciaga has done its job of creating eyewear products suited for that market. It’s safe to say the fashion house has made history. 

Celebrities Wearing Balenciaga Sunglasses

Many are fans of Balenciaga, including its eyewear line. Among the brand’s list of customers include top celebrities and artists. Below are some of those who have been spotted owning a pair of two of Balenciaga sunglasses:

Nicole Kidman in Couture Sunglasses


Kim Kardashian in Couture Sunglasses


Kim Kardashian in Butterfly Mask Shield Sunglasses


Eva Longoria in Marcolin BA11


Zendaya in BB095S-001


Dua Lipa in LED Sunglasses (BB0100S 001)


Kendall Jenner in BB0157S-001


Kim Kardashian in BB0157S-004


Bad Bunny in BB0096S-003*


Kylie Jenner in BB0229S-002


BFRND at the Met Gala in Butterfly Mask Shield Sunglasses


Christine Quinn in BB0229S-004 


Katy Perry in BB0243S-001


Bella Hadid in BB0095S 001



ConclusionBalenciaga’s eyewear line has never really strayed far from founder Cristóbal’s avant-garde aesthetics, clearly prominent in the oversized and dramatic sunglasses styles that people have welcomed with open arms. With the newly launched Couture Eyewear collection, many will undoubtedly keep a close eye as to what the Balenciaga House will be up to next.

Back to blog