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.
X-ray by Nick Veasey, 2016. © Nick Veasey