Cristobal Balenciaga (French, founded 1949), Coat, Fall 1950. Beige wool duvetyn. Gift of Doris Duke.72.81.23. The Museum at FIT 2012 © The Museum at FIT.
The simplicity of Balenciaga's most innovative designs is perfectly realized in this garment. The visible folds are formed and anchored to a ribbon that runs inside the upper part of each sleeve, from the neckline to cuff, and the folds are tacked to the ribbon at approximately four inch intervals. Despite its dramatic effect, the construction is a simple manipulation of the most basic of garment shapes, the T-shaped kimono. Its striking silhouette no doubt worked beautifully on the tall and angular body of the client, infamous tobacco heiress, Doris Duke.
Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn wearing a mantel coat by Cristobal Balenciaga. Photographed by Irving Penn, Vogue, september 1950.