Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Nothing is more rewarding than discovering the provenance of a treasured dress.  My favorite way to acquire goods for Decades is from the original owners, but when an Eisa comes to us that was designed in 1952, as time goes by, the likelihood of the original owner coming to us with her dress becomes more and more occasional.  Fortunately the amazing Igor Zubizarreta of the Balenciaga Foundation in Madrid helped me discover that this Eisa gown designed by Cristobal Balenciaga was originally owned by the fascinating Anne Moen Bullitt. A similar model was photographed  by the late Gleb Derujinsky in April of 1953.  The picture is appropriately titled "Models on the Balcony." 

American socialite Anne Moen Bullitt lived in Spain from around 1948 to 1952.  At the time, she was married to Nicholas Duke Biddle, who was serving as a foreign service officer at the United States embassy in Madrid.  Eisa was the name of Balenciaga's original surviving label based in Spain (other business ventures floundered prior) that he founded in 1927.  Let's call Eisa his homegrown Couture and the Cristobal Balenciaga label his Parisian branch.  Bullitt was a famous collector of clothing and amassed a formidable collection of Balenciaga, Sybil Connolly, Lanvin, and Yves Saint Laurent.  Bullitt's fascinating history has totally consumed me.  Her mother was Louise Bryant, the American journalist who witnessed the October Revolution in Russia and was played by Diane Keaton in the film Reds.  Her father was William C. Bullitt, the first US Ambassador to the Soviet Union  from 1933 and 1936.  Among other things, he was psychoanalyzed by Sigmund Freud.  Bullitt and Freud actually authored a book about Woodrow Wilson together that they worked on in the 1930s, but it wasn't published until 1967. 

As you can read, Anne Moen Bullitt was surrounded by fascinating 20th century figures and certainly dressed the part from the day she was born in 1924 to her death in 2007.   She was famously tiny with an 18 inch waist and apparently a rather full bosom.  Dita von Teese could fill out this dress exquisitely.  Interestingly, Bullitt was the first female breeder and trainer of thoroughbred horses in Ireland
I can't stop reading about her and her family.  So much so that I haven't written much about the dress.  But this Eisa is extraordinary...as was the original owner.  I expect the next owner to be fill the shoes and bust of Ms. Bullitt and enjoy telling the tales of the past owner while she makes her own in a cream silk and puce tulle ball gown.


Eisa by Cristobal Balenciaga of cream silk and puce tulle gown, c. 1952.  Size zero with an18" waist. 

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