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La Ligne H; 'Perou' (Peru)

  • Object:

    Evening ensemble

  • Place of origin:

    paris, France (made)

  • Date:

    1954-1955 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dior, 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

  • Image in copyright

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.
[Evening coat] The coat ensuite is of heavy gold satin and flares from the shoulder to hem. It has a small semi-circular collar and a fly front fastening. The sleeves are wide and elbow length. There are pockets in the side seams.

It is lined with matching paper taffeta.

It may have had a link button fastening because there is a hole at each side and no buttons.

Place of Origin

paris, France (made)

Date

1954-1955 (designed)

Artist/maker

Dior, 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'
'No. 38'

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
Reference to the donor - "The Unique Yacht of Mr and Mrs Arturo Lopez-Willshaw"
Dior Archives, Paris
Photograph of house model Alla modelling the dress (wearing a choker/necklace and black evening gloves), and caption:
CHRISTIAN DIOR. Automne Hiver 1954-1955. Ligne H;
Perou: Robe du soir courte de satin de Bodin Bossin de méré brodée or et paillettes. Gants et bas Dior. Chaussures Dior-Delman.
Dior Archives, Paris
Photograph of house model (Alla) wearing the dress at a Red Cross charity presentation of the latest Dior collection for Princess Margaret, 3 November 1954.
British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BP08115449312. (www.itnsource.com)
'Dior Show Aids Red Cross', Nov 8, 1954
Dior's H-line is modelled at Blenheim Palace.
'Perou' is modelled by house model Alla, named in the film as "Dior's number one model". The film states that 'Perou' took 600 hours to embroider.
British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BGX50119011 (www.itnsource.com)
'DIOR BRINGS PARIS TO BLENHEIM', 3 Nov, 1954. "Sixteen hundred pay five guineas each to see dress monarch and models with 1955 creations".
Pathé news reel, Gaumont Pathé Archives 5435GJ 00008
'Paris Images: Autumn & Winter Fashions', August 11, 1949
Presentation of the H-line. 'Perou' is modelled by house model Alla, who wears it with a fur lined satin coat.
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
Detail

Exhibition History

The Golden Age of Couture. Paris and London 1947 - 1957 (Victoria and Albert Museum 22/09/2007-06/01/2008)

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

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

Techniques

Weaving; Embroidering; Hand sewing; Couching

Subjects depicted

Tudor flowers

Categories

Clothing; Embroidery; Fashion; Evening wear; Formal wear

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection code

T&F

Qr_O117697
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