Cristobal Balenciaga (Spanish, 1895–1972)
Wool; L. at center back: 38 3/4 in. (98.5 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Walter Eytan, 1996 (1996.134.1)
This day coat with kimono sleeves and boxy silhouette is made of pale slate-blue fancy-weave wool. The single-breasted coat, cut from three panels, has three self-covered buttons; a square turndown collar at the jewel neckline; three-quarter-length sleeves; and a diagonal standing pocket at each hip.
Balenciaga is the preeminent tailor of couture, much as Vionnet might be described as the greatest dressmaker of modern couture. Yet Balenciaga often set himself a special tailor's test: he wanted the garment to stand away from the body, seemingly separated from itlike a cantilevered balconybut taking form to and from it. Even in exercises of suspended shape evident in this generously hovering coat, the tailoring penchant betrays itself in the way Balenciaga aligns the seams and shaping darts.