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Dior, Balmain, Saint Laurent: Elegance and Ease

27 April 2013 - 7 September 2014

Mint Museum Randolph



Christian Dior (founder and principal designer, 1946-1957)

House of Dior, Paris, France, 1947-present

Cocktail Dress (Blouse, Skirt, Belt), circa 1948

Acetate tulle with metallic braid on rayon lace over silk chiffon

Gift of the Mint Museum Auxiliary, donated by Mrs. Celia May Brumm.

House of Balmain, Paris, France, 1945-present

Cocktail Dress, circa 1960

Silk velvet, silk faille and silk brocade

Museum Purchase: Auxiliary Costume Fund. 

Yves Saint Laurent (founder and principal designer 1962-2002)

House of Saint Laurent, Paris, France, 1946-present

Evening Gown,  fall 1998

Silk floral brocade

Gift of Mrs. William McCormick Blair, Jr.  


Elegance and Ease presents 30 designs by three French masters in The Mint Museum Fashion Collection. The exhibition, featuring the work of these top designers active from the mid-20th century and into the 21st century, showcases their work and explores the history behind modern and contemporary fashion trends.


In 1947, Christian Dior (French, 1905-1957) established Paris as the center of the world of modern haute couture. Dior’s “New Look” fashions presented small, nipped-in waistlines above full skirts which emphasized the bust and hips in these silhouettes. He selected extravagant fabrics for his dresses and gowns, and his designs soon captured the attention of prominent clients from around the world.


Known for the elegance and movement of his formal designs, Pierre Balmain (French, 1914-1982) created elegant, slim silhouettes for his tailored suits. He once stated that “dressmaking is the architect of movement.” Even today, Balmain’s couture vintage designs are chic and highly desirable.


Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008) is recognized as one of the greatest names in fashion history. He was among the first to present ready-to-wear designs, including his famous tuxedo suits, which became a symbol of fashionable ease throughout the world. In 1985, fashion historian Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote that Yves Saint Laurent was "the most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years.” His formal and evening fashions as well as tailored suits created impressive directions in the world of haute couture and luxury fashions. 



Online Resources







Marc Bohan


Christian Dior


Gianfranco Ferré


John Charles Galliano







Pierre Balmain


Oscar de la Renta 


Cristophe Decarnin







Tom Ford


Stefano Pilati


Yves Saint Laurent 




Max Azria


Anne Klein and Company


Manolo Blahnik


Rene Caovilla


Cole Hann


Salvatore Ferragamo


Karl Lagerfeld


Edina Ronay


Elsa Schiaparelli


Kate Spade


Sir Paul Smith


Emanuel Ungaro


Valentino Garavani



Selected Print Resources Available in The Mint Museum Library 






Created by Nicole Jacobson, volunteer for The Mint Museum Library