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Evening dress - Cygne Noir (Black Swan)
  • Cygne Noir (Black Swan)
    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957
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Cygne Noir (Black Swan)

  • Object:

    Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1949-1950 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
    Bianchini-Férier (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk satin, silk, net and velvet

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Baroness Antoinette de Ginsbourg

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This evening dress of silk satin and velvet, designed by Christian Dior (1905-57), is constructed in two parts. The tight-fitting top is attached to the skirt with a series of complex fastenings. The skirt itself is very full and heavy, with panels of integral silk velvet that create the appearance of a massive bow, which Dior described as the 'natural ornament' of a dress.

The dress is typical of Dior's collections of the time, which featured flying panels and protruding angles.

Physical description

Evening dress consisting of a bodice and skirt of black silk satin, silk and velvet.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1949-1950 (made)


Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
Bianchini-Férier (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk satin, silk, net and velvet


Width: 23 in waist of bodice

Object history note

Worn and given by Baroness Antoinette de Ginsbourg

Descriptive line

Cygne Noir evening dress consisting of a bodice and skirt, silk satin and velvet, Christian Dior haute couture Autumn/Winter 1949, Milieu du Siècle line, Paris, France. Textiles by Bianchini-Férier.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Christian Dior: Man of the Century (Musee Christian Dior: Editions Artlys, 2005), p.120
de Rethy, E., Christian Dior: The Early Years 1947-1957 (Thames & Hudson, 2001), p.43
Miller, L., 'Perfect Harmony' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, 2007), p.121 & pl.5.5
Dior Archives, Paris
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971

Labels and date

'Cygne Noir' (Black Swan) evening dress (robe grand soir)
Christian Dior (1905-57)
1949-50 autumn/winter, Ligne Milieu du Siècle

This imposing gown is from Dior's sixth collection. He wrote of this time, 'A golden age seemed to have come again. War had passed out of sight and there were no other wars on the horizon. What did the weight of my sumptuous materials, my heavy velvets and brocades, matter? When hearts were light, mere fabrics could not weight the body down.'

Silk velvet and faille, supplied by Bianchini Férier

Given by Baroness Antoinette de Ginsbourg
V&A: T.117&A-1974 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]


Satin; Silk; Velvet


Evening wear; Fashion; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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