Fall 1996 Pierre Balmain by Oscar de la Renta Haute Couture Layered Silk Chiffon Dress w Embroidered Bodice

On Layaway

In 1993 Oscar de la Renta took over as Creative Director at Balmain where he designed the Haute Couture collections until 2002. The house had been floundering at that point and he had a huge impact on the reviving the sales of the couture pieces, mainly by catering to private clients, much like Balmain had originally. It is extraordinary to think that Oscar never produced a Haute Couture line under his own label and these few short years at Balmain gives us a chance to see just how talented he really was at all levels. I was very pleased to be able to fully document this dress with its photos from it on the runway. It is just beautiful.

I love that that photos let you can see just how beautifully the silk chiffon on the skirt moves once this is on the body. It is a gorgeous dress and his time there was one of the best. The dress is interesting because when you stand still you get a beautiful long, lean silhouette but the second you move the chiffon in the skirt is picked up by the air and the dress becomes even more extraordinary.  His use of fabric and the contrast he created by putting that pastel moss green with that soft dusty pink-purple is fascinating. The skirt of the dress is made from yards and yards of bias cut silk chiffon. The fabric is feather light. Two top layers of chiffon are split up the centre and these float over an inner silk skirt that has another layer of chiffon over it. The two top layers are heavily gathered in at the front waist so that they drape and curve around the hips. This is what creates that hourglass shape that you see. When you move these open and float away from the body and you fully see the contrasting colours underneath. It is amazing. The back of the skirt is cut slightly longer and this helps the silk layers to catch the air and move around you with your slightest movement. I love how it is gathered in up and around the waist. The bodice sits over that with an empire cut to it. The neckline is cut into a low dipping, curving V at the front and the neckline is set wide across so the collarbones can be seen. Little cap sleeves curve over the tops of your shoulders and the shoulders are soft with no padding. The entire bodice is an extraordinary feat of embroidery work and piece work. It would have all been done completely by hand. It combines a soft cross hatching of a pastel taupe thread for the backdrop and then onto that is a beautiful design of leaves and flowers in pink gold and greens. These curve over the bodice and it is a stunning thing to see in real life. The upper bodice is backed with a pale pinky nude silk organza which gives it a touch of transparency through the upper bodice and arms. The bust area has a built in boned and cupped corset that extends down to the waist inside. It closes down the front and the zipper is hidden away from view by those draped and gathered panels of silk chiffon on the skirt. Once on the body, it appears to have no closures at all. It's as if it was just magically made over you. Its magical. Everything is done by hand right down to the hand rolled edges of all of those layers of chiffon on the skirt. Between the heavily detailed embroidery and the contrasting colours of the silk chiffon, the final effect is fantastically romantic in feel. It is amazing. Excellent condition with a small note below

Fully lined in a silk organza through the bodice as described above and a light purple silk for the inner corset and lining of the inner skirt. It closes with a front zipper. Boning and light padded cups on the inner corset. There are some repairs to the organza lining of the inner bodice. I see a couple very tiny catches in the fabric here and there near the hem, on the back and there is a tiny flaw near the inner edge of the purple lining near the zipper. Please see the photos after the label shot. Minor. Hand finishes throughout and made by hand to Haute Couture standards

Sleeves: are 13.25" around the upper arm
Shoulders: no defined seam
Bust: to 17" flat across from side seam to side seam
Seam under the bust: 16" flat across from side seam to side seam
Inner waist: to 15.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Inner hips: to 21" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 13" from top of shoulder to bottom of the bodice
Total length: 62" from top of shoulder to the longest point of the hem

Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED

Item# DD4763

Reference Photos: Fall 1996 Pierre Balmain Haute Couture.

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