Balmain evening dress, 1958

The interior this evening gown from the 1950s is as stiff and structured as any of the pieces from the 19th century. The drapery of the bodice has been stitched onto a support that is essentially a corset. The very deep waiststay anchors the bodice into place and ensures that the strapless neckline will not dip too low. The underwire cups at the bust have been padded out.

The closure in the back of the dress includes many different types of fastener. The waist stay closes first with four hooks and eyes, then is concealed with the zipper. The drapery then laps over the zipper and fastens with several more snaps and hooks and eyes. When the whole garment is secured, the fasteners are completely undetectable.

  1. Evening dress of grey-green satin and taffeta
    Pierre Balmain
    French, 1958
    Satin, taffeta, petersham waistband, elastic garter suspenders, boning, silk organza underlining
    Transferred from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, Gift of Ernest Byfield through the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980, KSUM 1995.17.576

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