"L'Eléphant Blanc", House of Dior (French, founded 1947), silk, metallic thread, glass, plastic, French

"L'Eléphant Blanc"

Design House:
House of Dior (French, founded 1947)
Yves Saint Laurent (French (born Algeria) Oran 1936–2008 Paris)
spring/summer 1958
silk, metallic thread, glass, plastic
Credit Line:
Gift of Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.329.5a, b
Not on view
Creating the trapeze silhouette for Dior, Saint Laurent has a rigid understructure veiled under a fly-away cage. A boned corset anchors the dress but allows the delusion of a free swinging cone. Seeking a shape for independence, though still tethered, the "Eléphant Blanc" dress also employs a shimmering embroidery on net that requires a finishing flourish to the thread work on a transparent surface. Thus, in both surface decoration and in structure, Saint Laurent gained the effect of ethereal, bouyant freedom while retaining the structure of the couture. From the earliest works at the house of Dior through the designer's accomplishments in his own house, Saint Laurent has practiced and perfected this modernist wielding of couture construction and proficiency to seem wholly unfettered.
Marking: [label] "Christian Dior"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Haute Couture," December 7, 1995–March 24, 1996.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design," December 6, 1983–September 2, 1984.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Waist Not," March 30, 1994–August 21, 1994.

The Palace Museum, Beijing. "Yves Saint Laurent 1958–1985," May 7, 1985–July 14, 1985.

Musée de la Mode et du Textile. "Yves Saint Laurent, 28 Annees de Creation," May 30, 1986–October 26, 1986.

Jouhaire Martine. "Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design," May 30, 1986–October 26, 1986.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology," May 5, 2016–September 4, 2016.