Tuesday, February 18, 2014

History's Runway: The Weisweiller Balenciaga Gown, 1960

This and all related images from
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In 1960, Madame Alec Weisweiller commissioned Balenciaga, her favorite couturier,  to design a special one-off gown for the 18th birthday party of her daughter (who was also exclusively dressed by Balenciaga). Both of the Weisweiller ladies were considered quite the Parisian personalities and were especially close with both Balenciaga and Cocteau.

The gown is unique in that Balenciaga, who favored linear shapes, bold colors and embroidery, has veered from these ideals to create a more youthful piece in pale pink organza and delicate floral patterns which lean more toward Dior than the usual Balenciaga look.  

This evening dress boasts a fichu-like collar which encircles the shoulders and crosses over at the front to attach to the bodice with hooks and eyes.  One side is adorned with a pink organza bow. 
Embroidery of cream lace florets, ribbon-work pink and green flowers with colored silks, and with white and pearl colored beads decorates the collar and the upper third of the skirt. 

Originally, a satin ribbon was worn at the waist.  This is now lost.  the ribbon would have served to hide the waist seam.  

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