Golden Age of Couture exhibit, I was struck by how much I was drawn to the tailored items. There is something truly amazing about the tailoring on ladies garments of this period, particularly those by the masters: Dior and Balenciaga. The suit above (which you can read about on the V&A website) stood out among dozens of spectacular suits. Obviously, the tailoring is impeccable. But more so, it's the design details that really make this shine.
The first thing you notice when you see this suit in person is the unusual empire seam line. Isn't it remarkable how that one little detail is so completely captivating?
I also found it funny that of all the amazing pieces in the exhibit, this was Jeff's favorite, for the sole reason that he thought it would look good on me. (Awww.) Of course, his reaction made me interested in trying to make my own version of this suit. But how? I showed this picture to my teacher Sharon, and after close examination, she said it looked like a panel jacket, meaning that there's a panel of fabric that goes down the side, rather than a side seam. Which probably explains how the torso shape is so impeccably tailored: more seams make for more fitting opportunities.
So I've been playing around with the idea of taking Butterick 5147, a current pattern, and making three key changes: 1) converting the side seams to side panels, 2) adding an empire seam, and 3) changing the collar shape to imitate the Balenciaga. Wouldn't it be lovely in a subtle lavender tweed?
In some other geeky sewing details, here's what the V&A says of Balenciaga: "He was adept at manipulating firm fabrics. The style of jacket relies for effect on careful fitting to the body in front and gentle fullness at the back, and in the setting of the sleeves. Balenciaga was renowned in the trade for inspecting and resetting sleeves that were not perfect." And also: "Christian Dior once commented upon seeing a Balenciaga suit, 'Only Balenciaga would be capable of producing such perfection.'"