Skirt suit (Left) Skirt Suit, 1951, (Right) Skirt Suit, 1954

Cristóbal Balenciaga

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum
London, United Kingdom

(Left) Skirt Suit, 1951. Tweed, lined with silk.
(Right) Skirt Suit, 1954. Wool tweed lined with silk.

This suit, comprising a loose-fitting jacket and a slim-line skirt, was shown in Balenciaga's Winter collection in 1950 as model no. 24. It reveals Balenciaga’s debt to his training in tailoring in Spain and is an early example of the loose-fitting styles which he refined over the 20 years after the second world war. In the early 1950s, a made-to-measure woollen suit from Balenciaga cost about £112, a sum well beyond the reach of most consumers.

The magyar sleeve (a sleeve cut in one with the body) reveals how adept Balenciaga was at less traditional forms of construction. He was renowned in the trade for inspecting and resetting sleeves that were not perfect.

The slubbed nature of the tweed conceals the beauty of the cut whereas in the original mannequin parade, it was clearly visible because a plain wool was used. Tweed was a sturdy woollen fabric that appealed to Balenciaga because of the optical illusions created by the two or more colours in the indistinct flecked pattern.


  • Title: Skirt suit (Left) Skirt Suit, 1951, (Right) Skirt Suit, 1954
  • Creator: Cristóbal Balenciaga
  • Date Created: 1954, 1951
  • Location Created: Paris
  • Physical Dimensions: Length: 70.4 cm Centre front length of coat, Width: 19 cm Side Neck Point (SNP) to SNP of coat, Height: 3.5 cm Collar, Width: 70 cm Cross front (underarm to underarm), Length: 69 cm Right sleeve length (SNP to hem), Length: 69.5 cm Left sleeve length (SNP to hem), Length: 75 cm Centre back length of coat, Length: 24.2 cm Pocket length (coat), Width: 56 cm Cross back (underarm to underarm), Length: 75.4 cm Centre front skirt, Length: 77 cm Side seam skirt, Height: 2.8 cm Waist band height on skirt, Length: 19 cm Skirt zip, Length: 75 cm Centre back length of skirt
  • Provenance: Given by Miss Catherine Hunt
  • Medium: Tweed, lined with taffeta and silk (the skirt slightly shortened)

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