Design House: House of Balenciaga (French, founded 1937)
Designer: Cristobal Balenciaga (Spanish, Guetaria, San Sebastian 1895–1972 Javea)
Medium: wool, silk
Dimensions: Length at CB (a): 41 in. (104.1 cm)
Length at CB (b): 38 in. (96.5 cm)
Length (c): 30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Doris Duke, 1976
Accession Number: 1976.124.7a–c
This day dress (a) is made of black wool, fully lined in silk. The fitted sheath style has long sleeves "cut in one" with the dress. Four inches below the round neckline is a horizontal bust seam. There are four vertical seams at the center front, center back, and two sides. A detachable matching panel (b), fastened with two buttons onto the dress at the back of the shoulders, acts like a cape. The panel hides the center-back hook-and-eye and snap closure.
The Spanish-born couturier, considered the supreme architect of twentieth-century fashion, is remembered primarily for his virtuosity as a tailor and for his use of fabrics with a stiffer or more structured "hand." Here, a simple, solid-colored day dress is transformed by seams and darts into a graceful arrangement.