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Evening dress
  • Evening dress
    Balenciaga, Cristóbal, born 1895 - died 1972
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Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1954 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Balenciaga, Cristóbal, born 1895 - died 1972 (designer)
    Lajoinie (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ribbed cotton

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs D.M. Haynes and Mrs M. Clark

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Balenciaga was the most exclusive fashion house in Paris immediately after World War II. The Spanish-born couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972), regarded by his peers as ‘the Master’, had moved to Paris from Spain in 1937. By 1952 he had 232 employees there and was producing 356 new designs per year. His clients, admitted to his salon only after a personal introduction, included many cosmopolitan women of different nationalities.

Balenciaga was a perfectionist in cutting, sewing and finishing garments, and was renowned for his exacting standards. Plain fabrics show up defects in any aspect of dressmaking so this dress, shown here prepared for the V&A’s 2007 exhibition, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957, reveals his craftsmanship. He created this elegant sleeveless summer gown in a simple, pared-down shape in a stiff ribbed cotton, the type of fabric which provided opportunities for his famed 'sculpted' shapes. It is displayed here under a pea-green 'duster' coat (T.230-1984).

Physical description

Sleeveless full-length evening dress of white (horizontally) ribbed cotton with a centre-back zip fastening.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1954 (made)


Balenciaga, Cristóbal, born 1895 - died 1972 (designer)
Lajoinie (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Ribbed cotton


Weight: 1.48 kg

Object history note

Opal Holt was born in Canada in 1887 but lived in the US until the end of the Second World War. She travelled extensively between the wars and was in the first plane to land in Bali. She married Herbert Holt, a Canadian who lived a large part of his life in England, as her third husband in 1946. They came to England and Europe every summer and Opal Holt began buying clothes in Paris for her life in England, and for the Bahamas in Winter, over a period of about thirty years. She died in 1980.

Given by Mrs D.M Haynes and Mrs. Clark (nee Holt; Opal Holt's step-daughters).

Descriptive line

Sleeveless evening dress of ribbed cotton, designed by Cristóbal Balenciaga, made by Lajoinie, Paris, 1954

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Demornex, J., and Jouve, M., Balenciaga (New York, 1989), unpaginated.

Labels and date

Evening dress and coat (robe du soir)
Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895-1972)
1954 spring and 1955

Balenciaga uses the simplest of fabric and a pared-down cut to create an elegant sleeveless summer gown, worn under a pea-green silk 'duster' coat.

Dress: ribbed cotton
Coat: silk organdie

Worn by Mrs Opal Holt and given by Mrs Haynes and Mrs Clark
V&A: T.126-1982; T.230-1984 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]




Evening wear; Fashion; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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