Oscars 2024: Carey Mulligan Wore A Recreation Of A 1951 Balenciaga Gown… Here’s More On The Original

Oscars 2024: Carey Mulligan Wore A Recreation Of A 1951 Balenciaga Gown... Here's More On The Original

Carey Mulligan stunned on the red carpet at the 96th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night wearing an elegant sleeveless black gown by Balenciaga with matching full-length opera gloves. The strapless gown with its sweetheart neckline was cinched in at the waist for a form-fitting silhouette and featured a dramatic mermaid skirt, which flared out at the knees with a scalloped hem to reveal a white tulle petticoat peeping at the base. Mulligan kept her jewellery simple, opting for a pair of classic diamond drop earrings from Boucheron and went sans necklace.

“I think it’s my favourite dress I’ve ever worn,” Mulligan told Vogue, two days ahead of the Oscars. The actress was nominated for Best Actress for her powerful performance as Felicia Montealegre Bernstein in Maestro, the biopic about the legendary composer Leonard Bernstein (played by Bradley Cooper). [Emma Stone ultimately beat out Mulligan and the other nominated actresses taking home the Best Actress statue for her role in Poor Things]

“It’s the most incredible shape and so classic, but feels really modern,” Mulligan said of the dress. “It just feels amazing to wear, and not constrictive; I’m not going to be sitting there holding my breath for three hours.”

The dress is a remake of an archival dress from 1951 by Cristobal Balenciaga, the most celebrated Spanish designer of all time. The original gown is currently on display at the Kyoto Costume Institute in Japan, so the Balenciaga atelier recreated the mermaid dress using sketches, photographs and a fabric swatch.

“Andrew Mukamal, my stylist, found this reference and showed it to [Balenciaga]. We were just so thrilled they wanted to do it,” Mulligan explained to Vogue, adding that this is the first time that Balenciaga had remade a look from its archives for the red carpet.

‘The Master’ of haute couture
Born in 1895 in Getaria, a small fishing village in the Basque region of northern Spain, Cristóbal Balenciaga was introduced to fashion by his mother, who was a seamstress. At age twelve Balenciaga began an apprenticeship at a tailor’s in the neighbouring fashionable resort of San Sebastian, where in 1917 he established his first fashion house, named Eisa – a shortening of his mother’s maiden name. His early training set him apart from other couturiers of the time and it wasn’t long before Balenciaga opened fashion houses in Barcelona and Madrid before moving to Paris in 1937.

In the 1950s, the later phase of his career, Balenciaga pioneered new shapes never before seen in women’s fashion and led a revolution in fashion by dressing some of the most glamorous women of the 1950s and 60s including Hollywood actress Ava Gardener, fashion icon Gloria Guinness and Mona von Bismarck, one of the world’s wealthiest women, who commissioned everything from ball-gowns to gardening shorts from the couturier.

Balenciaga designed his black velvet mermaid dress with its layers of white tulle after WWII and presented it with his couture collection in early 1951. The dress, like many of his designs from the 1951 collection and beyond, paid homage to his homeland and was directly inspired by the tiered ruffles of the Andalusian flamenco dress, one of many references to Spanish cultural heritage that appeared regularly in his collections. The dress was instantly recognized as revolutionarily and by the fall of 1951 the design could been seen in numerous fashion magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar.

For Balenciaga, the design process started with the fabric rather than with a sketch, “it’s the fabric that decides” he stated, proving that he knew how to exploit materials to the very best effect.

Balenciaga retired from fashion in 1968 at the age of 74 after working in Paris for thirty years. The closure of Balenciaga’s fashion house and his death four years later on March 23, 1972 marked the end of an era. On the day of his death Women’s Wear Daily ran the headline “The King is Dead.”

Half a century after Balenciaga’s death, little is still known about the man behind the legend, and his figure continues to raise all sorts of questions. Unlike some other high-profile designers of the era, Balenciaga was a very private individual and refused to court the press, giving only one interview during his 50-year career, choosing to let his designs speak for themselves. Clearly, his original designs are still creating conversations today.

Looking for more Oscars 2024? Here’s a few more articles to check out:
Ariana Grande & Cynthia Erivo Fashioned Looks Inspired By Their ‘Wicked’ Characters
Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior Couture Dress Took 1,500 Hours To Make
Watch Ryan Gosling’s Epic “I’m Just Ken” Performance

Tags: Balenciaga, Carey Mulligan, Cristobal Balenciaga, Oscars, Oscars 2024, top story, topstory

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