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La Ligne H

  • Object:

    Evening ensemble

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1954-1955 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
    Bodin Brossin (embroiderers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin with silver thread embroidery and couched gold metal thread, lined with silk organza

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Cecil Beaton

  • Museum number:

    T.12&A-1977

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dress comes from Christian Dior's (1905-57) H-Line collection of autumn/winter 1954-55. The H-Line was one of Dior’s most controversial silhouettes, and the press debated whether it should stand for ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Horrid’.

The design of the H-Line deliberately flattened the bosom to create a moulded, elongated shape that many found unfeminine. Dior maintained that it was inspired by Tudor dress, this influence can be seen here in the rich geometric embroidery of this dress.

The dress was worn with a gold satin coat, originally designed with a dark fur lining.

Physical description

Evening dress of heavy gold satin entirely covered with embroidery in gold metal thread and couched gold metal thread of decorative interlocking hexagons around embroidered flowers of silver metal thread.

The dress is below knee-length with straight cut top which flattens the bosom, shoulder straps and a panelled front. The sides and back of the bodice are stitched down to a partial peplum around the hips, with the skirt flowing beneath in unpressed pleats.

The bodice and skirt are lined in white silk organza but the yoke of the skirt in unlined.

The dress fastens with a centre back zip and the skirt with press studs and hooks and eyes.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1954-1955 (designed)

Artist/maker

Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
Bodin Brossin (embroiderers)

Materials and Techniques

Satin with silver thread embroidery and couched gold metal thread, lined with silk organza

Marks and inscriptions

'Christian Dior Paris 03951'
Stitched into dress side seam

'No. 38'
Pale blue tie on label

Dimensions

Circumference: 86 cm bust, Circumference: 59 cm waist, Diameter: 90 cm skirt

Object history note

Worn by Madame Lopez-Willshaw.

An identical model was worn at the showing of Dior's Autumn/winter 1954-1955 H line collection to Princess Margaret at Blenheim Palace on 3 November 1954.

Historical context note

Mme. Arturo Lopez-Willshaw (Patricia), Chilean-born hostess, style leader; Paris. Pronounced 'International Best-Dressed Woman' by Vanity Fair in 1960.

Descriptive line

Evening ensemble with dress and coat of embroidered satin, designed by Christian Dior, Paris, 1954-1955

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

American Vogue May 15, 1953
Dior Archives, Paris
Dior Archives, Paris
British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BP08115449312.
(www.itnsource.com)
British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BGX50119011
(www.itnsource.com)
Pathé news reel, Gaumont Pathé Archives
5435GJ 00008
Wilcox, C., 'Dior's Golden Age' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, 2007), p.28

Labels and date

'Perou' evening dress and coat (robe du soir courte)
Christian Dior (1905-57)
Paris
1954-55 autumn/winter, Ligne H

This comes from a small collection that Dior showed in London in 1954, in the presence of Princess Margaret. The embroidery is exceptionally heavy and dense. Dior said that such a finish had to be used with great discrimination: 'being so rich, it may not look young. I advise you to use it for short evening dresses, full or narrow skirted.'

Silk satin, the dress embroidered by Brossin de Méré with gilt and silver metal thread; the coat originally lined with fur

Given by Mme Lopez Willshaw
V&A: T.12&A-1977 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]

Materials

Silk satin; Silver thread; Gold metal thread; Organza; Taffeta

Techniques

Embroidering; Couching; Weaving; Hand sewing

Subjects depicted

Tudor flowers

Categories

Fashion; Clothing; Evening wear; Embroidery; Formal wear

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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