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

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

Date: 1964

Culture: French

Medium: wool

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Walter Eytan, 1996

Accession Number: 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 it—like a cantilevered balcony—but 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.