Collaboration between the Nardín canning company and the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum has led to the Nardín conservation grant. The Nardín grant made it possible to restore an important piece belonging to the Fundación Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa Collection.
The restoration of the piece was conducted by two interns under the supervision of the Museum’s Department of Conservation and Restoration. The piece also forms part of a University of the Basque Country research project aimed at studying conservation and restoration issues related to the pieces in the collection.
EVENING GOWN IN BLACK VELVET WITH HORIZONTAL
SEQUIN AND BEAD APPLIQUÉS, 1947.
The piece is said to have been purchased by Barbara Hutton, who gave it to Ruth Hopwood, the donor's aunt. According to the donor, Ruth Hopwood and Barbara Hutton were close friends during the time Barbara Hutton lived in Tangier.
FORMAL STUDY OF THE PIECE
Black velvet evening dress with sequin and bead appliqués arranged horizontally. Round neck and front opening to the waist with seven self-fabric buttons. The back of the buttons is made of metal, carrying the inscription: Paris 18. There is a snap closure at the neck and a metal hook at the waist. Long sleeves with a seam running from the shoulder and under the arm.
The bodice has semi-circular shoulder pads made with a layer of combed cotton on one side and heavy taffeta on the other. The silk that once lined the shoulder pads is essentially gone. The skirt hangs from the waist to the floor, becoming fuller at the hips.
The inside is lined with silk taffeta, and the waist is stiffened with a band of plastic mesh or tarlatan (12 cm wide) and with yellow interlining in some areas. The lining fabric is almost gone in this area. The lower part of the hip is shaped with a kind of boning or wire lined with black circular ribbon.
The entire surface (except for the sleeves) is decorated with strips of diamond-shaped beads in two different sizes and sequins (1.5 cm strips). Between the strips are embroidered flowers with sequins and beads in two sizes.
Map of measurements
- Total length of dress:132.5
- Bodice: 30.5 cm
- (Opening in bodice: 52 cm)
- Skirt length: 102 cm
- Sleeve length: 53 cm
- Sleeve circumference: 22 cm
- Skirt circumference: 265 cm
- Neck circumference: 59 cm
- Bust circumference: 88 cm
- Waist circumference: 73 cm
STATE OF CONSERVATION
The dress is in a poor state of conservation both on the interior and exterior:
- Generally soiled
- Stains and worn out areas in the velvet (sleeves, skirt, etc.)
- The armholes have major tears or horizontal rips in the direction of the chest. There does not
seem to be any loss of support, nor have the tears affected the lining; the damage only affects
the velvet exterior.
- Almost entire loss of lining at shoulder pads.
- Silk lining partially or entirely missing, primarily at the waist and hips (in the areas that are
in contact with the tarlatan stiffening).
- Beads missing in certain areas (edges, flowers, etc.)
- Loss of stitching holding beads in place and loose threads.
- Deposits or incrustations of dirt in beading. Beading is basically dirty; some of the beads have
whitish specs and others are covered with a layer of soil.
MATERIAL STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF THE PIECE
The section on the study and analysis of the dress is aimed at analysing the composite materials in order to characterise the different materials used in the dress, as well as the constructive aspects, the factors regarding degradation and the state of conservation. The purpose is to establish an adequate method of conservation-restoration for the piece.
The first phase of the study revealed the large amount of materials used in the garment, and the very visible and wide range of types of deterioration that can affect them. A number of different analysis methods, specific to each material, were used to characterise the materials. The University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) collaborated on this project, providing general services and, through the Faculty of Sciences, Department of Analytic Chemistry, the identification and analysis of samples.
The Coupled Multispectroscopy Singular Laboratory (LASPEA) analysed the plastic polymers and other materials using Raman spectroscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR-ATR); the Analytical and High-Resolution Microscopy in Biomedicine Service analysed the textile fibres using scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
Analysis of textile fibres:
Scanning electron microscopy SEM
Scanning electron microscopy makes it possible to study the morphology of particles and the surface structures of fibres. The fibres can be viewed in longitudinal or transverse cross section. Both longitudinal and transverse cross sections of fibres are characteristic and can help to identify the materials.
The samples first had to be prepared to be viewed with scanning electron microscopy: Conductive carbon adhesive tape is attached to the sample, which is introduced into the microscope and shaded with a metallic film, in our case gold ( A SEM Hitachi s-3400N 15KV microscope was used for viewing purposes, yielding images of our samples enlarged between 150 and 2000 times.
Images from scanning electron microscopy SEM.
Velvet ligament. 75x.
Fibres from weft. 1000x
Fibres from warp. 500x
The photographs obtained with the scanning electron microscope enabled us to identify the materials used in the dress:
Velvet ligament (exterior): Weft: Rayon Warp: Silk
Taffeta ligament (lining-hip area ): Weft: Silk Warp: Silk
Taffeta ligament (lining-shoulder area): Weft: Silk Warp: Silk
Shoulder pad fabric: Cotton
Yellow threads (shoulder pads): Rayon
Sewing thread (shoulder pads): Silk
Analysis of non-textile elements:
Below is a description of the techniques selected as part of the scientific method established for identifying non-textile elements:
Raman spectroscopy is a non-contact, non-destructive technique that is becoming increasingly popular. It consists of focusing a monochromatic laser beam into a sample and collecting the scattered radiation through a detector incorporated in the head. The resulting signal of the detector is sent through fibre optics to a spectometer, which separated the scattered radiation into different its wavelength components. The signal is then processed digitally on a computer. Depending on the position and intensity of the signal we can characterise any type of material. Since every material has a unique spectral signature, much like a fingerprint, it can be identified. [Forrest, 2002].
In our case, it was determined that the most appropriate option would be to identify the synthetic materials with Raman spectroscopy. This is one of the techniques that is best adapted to analysing works of art [Pérez Pueyo, 2005] and has been used for over 20 years to identify polymers and emulsions.
Scanning electron microscopy SEM-EDX
The same technique was also used to identify some of the elements and composites characteristic in polymers to confirm the results obtained with the FTIR and RAMAN techniques. In this case, we used the SEM-EDX microscope at the Coupled Multispectroscopy Singular Laboratory (LASPEA). With its a Carl Zeiss EVO 40 scanning electron microscope, the laboratory produced high vacuum photographs without having to metalize the samples.
The unit is equipped with a secondary electron detector (SIM), a backscattered electron detector, and an EDS detector made by Oxford Instruments for elemental analysis of the samples observed in the microscope. The EDS unit can perform specific analyses such as scanning and mapping as well as qualitative and quantitative EDS image analysis. Most importantly, these tests can be done without the need to prepare the sample, therefore allowing the bead to be returned to its place
SAMPLE: Interior of diamond-shaped bead
Technique: RAMAN SPECTROSCOPY
Exposure:15s x10 accumulations
Laser: NIR785 nm
Exposure: 10 s x 5 accumulations
Spectrum range: 100-3500 cm-1