Pair of mules, circa 1730

  • Gift of the family of Cristóbal Balenciaga
  • Circa 1730
  • 'Pearl-embroidered' upper with coloured floral motif on off-white background, cream tawed lining and insole; brown, vegetally tanned leather welt, sole, wooden heel covering and toecap.
  • GAL 1979.43.18AB
  • Palais Galliera, musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Formerly part of couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga's private collection, this pair of mules is especially notable for its sablé or 'pearl-embroidered' ornamentation, whose technique resembles that of needlepoint: tiny glass beads are mounted on horizontal threads and surrounded with a network of blanket stitching.

Very popular in the 1730s and most often used for embellishing furniture, sablé was also found on such fashion accessories as purses, handbags and needle cases, of which the Palais Galliera has some invaluable specimens. Shoes decorated in this way, however, are extremely rare; to our knowledge the only other surviving example is to be found in the Museum of London (inv. no. 28.7/3a).

Notice's author : Marie-Laure Gutton