Behind the scenes, Collection, Exhibition

Game Changers: The Conservation of a Balenciaga Dress

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

With our newest exhibition Game Changers, MoMu wanted to tell the story of how Balenciaga and the generations after have changed the feminine silhouette from waist-obsessed to free form. To portray this liberating story, MoMu acquired the most astonishing pieces from the Balenciaga archives. But not all of them were in the greatest conditions. Thankfully, our MoMu restaurator Kim, was able to save this dress from 1967!

One of the key features of the dress are the red flowers on top which was in bad condition. Not only were the flowers completely out of shape but also torn and wrinkled. Traces on the flowers showed that the dress was relocated several times over the years which caused the dress to look different than how it originally was. It was impossible to display the dress as it was so with the blessing of Balenciaga Archives in Paris, we decided to properly treat and conserve it.

Condition of the dress before treatment

Condition of the dress before treatment

Besides the flowers, the silk crêpeline underneath the flowers was also in poor condition. Kim decided to seperate the flowers and the crêpeline and support it with special material before putting it back together. The flowers were brought back into shape by using cold steam and pillows of fiberfill to support them. The torn leaves were supported by conservation tulle. After leaving the leaves in this position, the flowers were back in its original shape.The silk crêpeline and the flowers were then relocated to its original position which gave the dress once again it’s original appearance!

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Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette on display at MoMu Antwerp!

Words by Kim Verkens