Cocktail dress

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

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

Date: spring/summer 1948

Culture: French

Medium: silk, suede

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. John Chambers Hughes, 1958

Accession Number: C.I.58.34.28a, b


This cocktail dress (a) of silk chiffon is printed in a large stylized poppy print in shades of red with green stems on a black ground, with a wide contour belt (b) of black suede. The dress has a wide flared collar that is flat across the high back neckline, falling in ripples at each side of the deep V-shaped neckline in front, above the crossover closing below the bustline. The bodice has a one-piece back and a two-piece front fitted with one waistline dart at each side of the front and back. Wrist-length fitted sleeves are cut-in-one with the bodice and have a gusset set-in under each arm. The bodice and sleeves are lined with plain black chiffon. The full "Zouave" skirt of gathered chiffon is draped in loose folds over a ten-gore flared foundation of black taffeta, with the chiffon extending slightly below the foundation, gathered under and attached inside the hemline. The dress is fastened with snaps and a hook-and-thread loop at the center front, and has a zipper closing under the left arm. The wide contour belt of black suede, with a buckle covered in suede, encircles the waist.