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Wedding dress suit

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1954 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fath, Jacques, born 1912 - died 1954 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Worsted and cotton, figured with gold lurex thread, lined and boned

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Alexandra Trevor-Roper

  • Museum number:

    T.178&A-1974

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston (1907-97) was the wife of the Naval Attaché to Paris at the end of the 1940s. She required an extensive wardrobe for the many formal dinners and state functions that she had to attend.

A couture client would attend all the fashion collections, seated in the front row if she were especially important like Lady Alexandra. After the show, she would place her orders with her vendeuse (personal saleswoman).

Lady Alexandra dressed exclusively at the house of Jacques Fath (1912-54), and commissioned this dress from Jacques Fath shortly before he died, for her second marriage to Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Baron Dacre). She told Cecil Beaton, ‘the dress made for my wedding to Hugh was made up on the wrong side of the material (my idea because the colour of the right side did not suit me) and that dress was worn and worn’.

Physical description

Jacket and dress in pale brown worsted and cotton, figured with a spot pattern in gold gilt thread.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1954 (made)

Artist/maker

Fath, Jacques, born 1912 - died 1954 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Worsted and cotton, figured with gold lurex thread, lined and boned

Marks and inscriptions

'Jacques Fath / Paris' [with emblem above]
Label, machine woven, black on white

Dimensions

Circumference: 60 cm waist, Circumference: 81 cm bust

Object history note

Lady Alexandra was married to Hugh Trevor-Roper in this Fath dress on October 4, 1954.

The dress is modest as this was her second marriage. She had previously been married to Captain (later Rear-Admiral) Clarence Dinsmore Howard-Johnston, by whom she had had three children.

Historical context note

Lady Trevor-Roper favoured designs by Jacques Fath for her wardrobe, and contributed the vast proportion of the V&A's Fath collection.

Descriptive line

Jacket and dress in pale brown worsted and cotton, designed by Jacques Fath, Paris, 1954

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

Cecil Beaton gift Registered Papers, RP/1970/3752 F/5
Lynn, E., 'Lady Alexandra' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications: 2007), p.172 and pl. 7.17
Vickers, H., 'Cecil Beaton and his anthology of fashion', in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications: 2007), p. 165
Lady Alexandra Trevor-Roper's Memoirs (unpublished)
In the possession of Xenia Dennen (Lady Alexandra's daughter)

[Eleri Lynn 17/07/06]
Tatler, September 2007, p.142-3

Labels and date

LADY ALEXANDRA: A COUTURE CLIENT

Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston (later Lady Dacre) was the wife of the Naval Attaché to Paris. She required an extensive wardrobe for the many formal dinners and state functions that she had to attend.

A couture client would attend all the fashion collections, seated in the front row if she were especially important. After the show, she would place her orders with her personal vendeuse or saleswoman. A calico toile would be created, then the final garment, a process involving numerous time-consuming fittings.

Lady Alexandra dressed exclusively at Jacques Fath. The designer lent her evening and day dresses each season, aware of the publicity that this would give his house. 'If there was a Fath dress I wanted to keep, I could pay sale price at the end of the season. I was not allowed to go to any other couturier, but I did not want to - Fath was perfection.'

Dress and jacket
Jacques Fath (1912-54)
Paris
1954

Lady Alexandra commissioned this dress from Jacques Fath, shortly before he died, for her second marriage to Hugh Trevor-Roper. She told Cecil Beaton, 'the dress made for my wedding to Hugh was made up on the wrong side of the material (my idea because the colour of the right side did not suit me) and that dress was worn and worn.' [61 words]

Wool and Lurex

[Shown along with a photograph album showing the dress being worn at the wedding. Lent by Lady Alexandra's daughter, Mrs. Xenia Dennen; also shown with some of the letters from the Registered Files RP/1970/3752 F/5]

Given by Lady Dacre
V&A: T.178&A-1974 [22/09/2007]

Materials

Worsted; Cotton; Whalebone; Lurex; Nylon net; Cotton

Techniques

Weaving; Sewing

Categories

Fashion; Women's clothes; Marriage; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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