Conversant with Spanish ceremonial and vernacular dress as an expression of European regionalism, Balenciaga likewise respected Orientalist effects. The cocoon shape of the back alludes to the way a Japanese woman’s outer kimono accommodates over her obi to create an elegant arc. More evidently, in emphasizing the nape of the neck by dropping the bias-rolled collar, he evokes the kimono’s band neckline, which dips at the back.
Evening Dress with Wrap
In this evening ensemble by Halston, a double-tiered cape functions in the same way as the classical himation. The cape is composed of several layers and many yards of silk chiffon. With its allusion to the regular folds of antique dress, the pleating consumes an especially large amount of fabric. The simply constructed cape could be worn in a variety of ways, but it always provides decorous coverage for the bare gown beneath. Pleated, the travertine colored halter gown with a plunging neckline and completely bared back is essentially a fluted Greek column.