Design House: House of Balenciaga (French, founded 1937)

Designer: Cristobal Balenciaga (Spanish, Guetaria, San Sebastian 1895–1972 Javea)

Date: 1960–64

Culture: French

Medium: wool, silk

Credit Line: Gift of Doris Duke, 1976

Accession Number: 1976.124.7a–c


This chic, blacker than black tunic, with its dramatic cape-like back panel, perfectly articulates Balenciaga's revolutionary modern design principles of the 1960s. The Spanish-born couturier often set himself a special tailor's test: he loved to have the garment stand away from body, thus taking form to and from the body, but seemingly separated from it, like a cantilevered balcony. Balenciaga was considered the supreme architect of twentieth-century fashion, and is remembered primarily for his virtuosity as a tailor and for his use of fabrics with a stiffer or more structured "hand."