cocktail dress & stole & hat

Pierre Balmain, Paris, 1914 - 1982

cocktail dress & stole & hat

Pierre Balmain, Paris 1914 - 1982


Sleeveless calf-length dress of vivid blue cotton poplin printed with white splotches, bell-shaped skirt; the stole and hat of same fabric, the stole in sharp green colourway. DRESS: V-neck back and front, no sleeves, unlined; Bodice front in 2 sections, seamed down CF, with 2 gathered lines of piping down centre extended to hip level, tightened to give ruched effect and trimmed with 3 bows of white ribbed cotton rouleaux; bodice back in 2 sections each side of CB opening; zip fastening down CB extending below waist; skirt front in 2 flared sections, back in 4 flared sections. UNDERDRESS: fitted foundation petticoat; bodice of double cotton net fully boned to low waist, extra support below bust and separate back fastening; zip fastening CB; skirt of white stiffened nylon in 7 flared sections, mounted with 3 double frills in tiers, the lower frill of nylon and the upper one of fine nylon net. STOLE: straight length of poplin in green colourway, reverse partially lined self fabric, one long edge lined white pique. HAT: small simple cap shape pleated into back nape and trimmed with white pique bow, lined white stiffened gauze. label : woven rayon : sewn in side seam under L arm : PIERRE BALMAIN/PARIS (small attached label MADE IN FRANCE) Shown at fashion parade :"Britain's Couture Cottons for 1958" held at the Hyde Park Hotel, London, June 25 1957. Cotton Board

Display Label

Pierre Balmain (1914-82) was one of the most respected and admired of the Parisian couturiers of the 1950s and 60s. Trained under both Molyneux and Lucien Lelong, he opened his house in 1946, becoming a rival to Dior and Balenciaga. The flyleaf of his autobiography: 'Pierre Balmain, my years and seasons' which was published in 1964, starts 'In the couture world, the name of Balmain is synonymous with elegance', and ends with a direct quote from Balmain himself: 'To be a couturier is to impose on millions of women a whole way of life'. Parisian couture in the 1950s certainly influenced fashion generally throughout Europe, and this continued into the 1960s, but by 1970, cheaper clothing and younger role models were threatening the whole edifice. This black mini dress shows Balmain at his most provocative and 'moderne'. It has cut out daisy-discs which show through to the flesh below. The earlier outfit below is typical of Balmain at the height of his powers in 1957 and was commissioned by the Manchester-based Cotton Board. The original press release photograph shows the elegance of the outfit, which has a stole in the same print but with a contrasting green ground instead of the truquoise of the dress. The last image shows a wedding dress by Balmain from 1967, again showing classic simple cut and unfussy decoration.

Object Name

cocktail dress & stole & hat

Creators Name

Pierre Balmain, Paris

Date Created



Length: 120cm
Stole: 312.5cm x 54.5cm
Shoulder to waist: 35cm
Hem: 305cm
Waist: 66cm

accession number


Place of creation




© Manchester Art Gallery

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