Design House House of Balenciaga French
Designer Cristobal Balenciaga Spanish

Not on view

Cristóbal Balenciaga’s designs of the 1960s favor sculptural forms that stand away from the body rather than conform to it, an effect he achieved through mastery of his materials. This gown, a perfect articulation of the designer’s refined silhouettes, is composed of silk gazar, a fabric developed for him by the Swiss textile manufacturer Abraham. Gazar’s firm hand is perfectly suited to Balenciaga’s architectural shapes; it allowed him to create volume through the inherent properties of the textile rather than relying on a supportive understructure. The exacting cut, minimal structural seaming, and carefully positioned grain lines produce a precise effect: the front, draped on the cross grain, floats stiffly away from the body, while the back, draped on the bias, falls into soft waves. When in motion, the short front hem draws air into the trailing back of the gown, making it billow like a sail.

Dress, House of Balenciaga (French, founded 1937), silk, French

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