Spring 1956 Pierre Balmain Haute Couture Ivory Lace Dress w Black Silk Bow
This exquisite Pierre Balmain Haute Couture dress is a stunning and very rare example of what the house was producing during this time period. It is true Haute Couture and has been entirely made by hand to Haute Couture standards. I had originally dated it to the Fall 1954 collection but after posting it was sent the image of Renée Breton wearing the full gown length version for Spring 1956. I have left the earlier images as I found it interesting to see how his design progressed to get to this 1956 style and thought the person buying it might as well. You can see the resemblance to the Fall 1954 "Ecume" dress combined with elements from the "Clorinde" dress from that same season and how these eventually become the silhouette you see here. There is also an even closer resemblance to that famous photo of the model and dress captured back stage by Mark Shaw that season. You can easily imagine how this dress was created through the seasons from the different elements of these and Balmain tweaking the details with the end result being this beautiful piece.
The dress is constructed from a hand made ivory Chantilly French lace that is outlined with a fine silk cording. The cord has been meticulously hand applied to the lace. It follows the outline of, and defines each delicate motif within the lace's pattern. The lace portion of the dress begins just under the high and defined waist and the entire lower portion of the exterior layer of the dress is done in that stunning lace. I love how at the very hem the lace edges have been meticulously hand stitched into a silk organza so that the hem is perfectly straight. The bodice is kept with a more simple silk jersey fabric to contrast the high level of workmanship that the lace has. It is strapless and the cups are shaped and molded underneath the jersey. The silk has been is hand draped so that is sits in soft folds over the bust. The folds are set on a slight angle and one section in the middle has been used to create a wide open loop. Through that opening winds a wide black silk taffeta sash that drapes down at the front to follow the curved angle of the bust line and then ties at the back. I have tied it into a more formal bow but you could also leave this to trail down the back. The use of the contrasting black ribbon adds both a simple and romantic touch and also visually cinches in the waist area even more then the interior corseting already does. The skirt billows out to a beautiful fullness beneath the tapered in waist. The shape and fullness that you see is built into the skirt through layers and layers of silk netting and tulle underneath. The inner construction of the dress is absolutely exquisite with a boned and corseted interior made entirely made by hand and to Haute Couture standards. Under the skirt there are a three full layers of silk tulle and netted underskirts to achieve the shape that you see. I did not add any additional crinolines here but you could create an even fuller shape by adding a separate underskirt if you wished. It is a beautiful example of the very early work that the House of Balmain was doing and a wonderful example of the golden years of Haute Couture. Excellent condition with some small notes to review below.
Fully lined in a ivory silk with extensive boning, inner construction and skirting. It closes with an intricate combination of the Balmain signature, multiple chest and waist stays and two zippers. One to close the inner corset and the other to close the exterior dress The inner layers of the skirt are attached with some having addition half layers at their hems for additional volume. The innermost skirt is interlined with netting and the built in corset is made of lingerie netting and hand done padding. It is boned with metal boning. There is perhaps some very minor darkening to the lace here and there. Very small areas here and there of darkening to the inner bodice. On the exterior bodice there are areas of light yellowing that run across the sides. It is very faint and once on I think you would never even notice it as they are across the fabric and in the folds mainly. None of this compromises the strength or integrity of the dress and it is strong and wearable with the care. All of the photos to show the stunning details of the dress are before the shot of the label and the shots to show the sides of the bodice mentioned above are after the label shot. It really is in remarkable condition. Proper Haute Couture label and tape underneath, though the writing on the couture tape under the label has faded to almost nothing.
Bust: 15" flat across the back from side seam to side seam with cups built in that would fit an A or smaller
Waist: 11.5-12" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 5" from top of bodice to seam under front cups
Skirt: 36" from seam under the cups to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-XS
Reference Photos: (1) Renée Breton in Pierre Balmain, 1956. Photographed by Georges Saad. / (2) Model Ann Farrar in Pierre Balmain A/W 1954-55 "Ecume" Dress. Photo by Philippe Pottier. / (3) Backstage at Balmain, 1954. Photo by Mark Shaw. / (4) Marie-Thérèse in an evening dress called "Clorinde" by Pierre Balmain, Fall/Winter 1954-1955 Collection.
This garment is sent in clean, as found condition and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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