Exceptional Spring 1956 Pierre Balmain Haute Couture Strapless French Alencon Lace & Silk Organza Dress
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. It is from the Spring 1956 collection and a long full length version of the dress was photoed on Renée Breton. I love having the reference photo of it as it gives you a very good idea of how wonderful it will be on. Besides being a very wearable cocktail dress and an extraordinary piece of fashion history, this would make a stunning wedding choice for the bride looking for something not as traditional or as an option for an event over a wedding weekend.
The dress is made from the most exquisite French Alencon lace. Alencon lace is characterized by a delicate mesh work motifs surrounded by a raised rim of fine silk cording. Though it can now be made by machine the lace used on this dress would be the authentic hand made version and would have been made and brought in specifically for this dress. The silk cord has been meticulously hand applied to the lace to follow and define each delicate motif within the pattern. The lace runs from just under the high set waist to the hem and it is breathtaking to see. At the hem the lace has been hand stitched onto a silk organza edging for a very refined finish. For the bodice he chose a simple silk jersey. It is strapless and cut to hug the body. The silk has been hand draped over the bodice in soft folds. The folds are set on a slight angle and in the center a section has an an opening on either side. Through that winds a wide black silk taffeta sash that follows under the bust and then ties at the back. The use of the contrasting black ribbon adds a stark contrast to the ivory and also visually cinches in the waist area. The skirt billows out to a beautiful fullness beneath the nipped in waist. The shape and fullness that you see is all built in. Under the top layer of lace there are layers of silk netting and tulle. The inner construction of the dress is absolutely exquisite. The bodice has a boned lingerie net corset that is made entirely made by hand and to Haute Couture standards. It has several straps that wrap around you to help hold the dress in place and built in cups. Under the skirt there are a three full layers of silk tulle and netted underskirts. I did not add any additional crinolines for these shots but you could create an even fuller shape by adding another underskirt. 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. It is a work of art. Excellent condition with some minor notes to review below.
Fully lined in a ivory silk with extensive boning, inner construction and skirting. It closes with an intricate combination of chest and waist stays that hook to close and there are two zippers. One closes the inner corset and the other closes 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, metal boning and padding that has been made by hand. Proper Haute Couture label and tape underneath, though the writing on the couture tape under the label has faded to almost nothing. I see a couple of small areas of darkening to the inner bodice. On the exterior bodice there are very light changes in color at the across the sides near the arms. There is a mark near the top of the zipper and the lace at the bottom of the zipper is a little fuzzy looking. Please see the photos after the label shots.
A small note for brides. The Black sash is just lightly tacked onto place and could easily be removed, set aside to keep, and yo could then switch it out to an ivory (or to any other color) if the black was too stark. You could then have it fall as long as you wish as well.
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: Renée Breton in Pierre Balmain, 1956. Photographed by Georges Saad
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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