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Hat

  • Place of origin:

    Spain (made)

  • Date:

    1962 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Balenciaga, Cristóbal, born 1895 - died 1972 (designer)
    Eisa (designed for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk

  • Credit Line:

    Anonymous gift.

  • Museum number:

    T.146-1998

  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition, case B24

This hat is a perfect example of the dramatic yet minimal sculptural shapes for which the Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga was known. Balenciaga established his eponymous couture house in Paris in 1937 but he already ran three couture houses in Spain under the name of Eisa. The Eisa ateliers were based in Madrid and Barcelona with a third in the chic summer resort of San Sebastian.

This hat is worn like a pillbox hat, perching on top of the head. It is secured by three internal haircombs to support the dramatic sculptural spirals rising up at the back. The clean lines and solid block colour exemplify the couturier's desire to strip things back to their simplest form.

Physical description

Hat of stiffened fabric covered in cream silk. Spiral designed to perch on the head, seven rotations of spiral. Three combs on the underside of the hat.

Place of Origin

Spain (made)

Date

1962 (made)

Artist/maker

Balenciaga, Cristóbal, born 1895 - died 1972 (designer)
Eisa (designed for)

Materials and Techniques

Silk

Marks and inscriptions

'EISA'
Label inside hat

Dimensions

Height: 13 cm, Circumference: 51 cm

Object history note

If the cost of his Paris salon was out of reach, there were other ways to buy a Balenciaga design. Some were sold less expensively under Balenciaga’s label Eisa in Spain, where labour costs were lower and cheaper fabrics might be used.

Descriptive line

Spiral hat of stiffened fabric covered in silk, designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga for Eisa, Spain, 1962

Labels and date

‘Balenciaga’s hats are an integral part of his fashion,’ reported the French fashion review Jardin des modes in 1961. They ensure ‘that volumes are balanced and the silhouette is perfectly finished off.’ Fairly conventional ensembles were often paired with a striking hat which lifted the whole look and made it appear more avant-garde. The client could buy the whole ensemble or leave the hat if it was too daring. The designs for hats were as fiercely protected as those for dresses. The police commissioner stamped the official sketches of the hats to protect them from being copied.

Cream Spiral Hat
Silk
Cristóbal Balenciaga (Eisa label), Spain,1962
V&A: T.146-1998 []

Production Note

Labelled Eisa - Balenciaga's Spanish couture house.

Reason For Production: Commission

Materials

Silk (textile)

Categories

Hats & headwear; Fashion; Accessories; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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