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Evening Dress

1957 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Lady Gladwyn was the wife of the British Ambassador to Paris from 1954 to 1960. She hosted the state visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Embassy in April 1957, and invited her great friend Diana Cooper to attend the dinner held at the British Embassy on Tuesday 9 April, at which this dress was probably worn. It was designed by Pierre Balmain (1914-82), and the bodice features the appliqué technique favoured by him.

Lady Gladwyn wrote in her diary: "The supper was, I think, just right for the occasion: cold salmon, chaudfroid of chicken, a salad, oranges and lemons filled with sorbet, and a wonderful Bollinger... The difficulty was to get rid of all the guests. They lingered on, and at half past one in the morning Cecil Beaton was still sketching Diana Cooper in the Ionian Room".

In 1971 the society photographer Cecil Beaton collected several of the dresses worn during this particular state visit to donate the V&A. These included the Queen's embroidered ivory gown by Norman Hartnell (1901-79), T.264-1974, Lady Gladwyn's lilac lace gown by Jacques Fath (1912-54), T.173-1974, and Baroness Alain de Rothschild's spotted tulle gown by Christian Dior (1905-57), T.121-1974.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Printed silk, pleated and boned, with appliqué decoration, net and nylon
Brief Description
Evening dress of printed silk, designed by Pierre Balmain, Paris, 1957.
Physical Description
Full length evening dress of cream warp printed silk with large pink rose pattern. The bodice is strapless and trimmed with appliqué rose motifs below the bust line to the waist. The boned bodice is scalloped at the waist and pleated at the bust with V shaped centre front.



The bouffant skirt has fold pleats and a stud and hook fastening left of centre back. The underskirts are made of stiffened net and nylon.
Dimensions
  • Bust circumference: 86cm
  • Waist circumference: 70cm
  • Skirt back length: 119cm
  • Skirt front length: 111cm
  • Skirt footprint diameter: 95cm
Production typeHaute couture
Gallery Label
Evening dress (robe du soir) Pierre Balmain (1914–82) Paris 1957 This dress was worn by Lady Diana Cooper, the wife of the former British ambassador in Paris, for the Queen’s state visit in April 1957. Lady Diana was a leading socialite of the time and a great friend of Cecil Beaton, who described her as a ‘tour de force of aristocratic beauty’. He persuaded her to donate the dress to the V&A. Printed and appliqué silk Worn by Lady Diana Cooper V&A: T.50-1974(22/09/2007-06/01/2008)
Credit line
Given by Lady Diana Cooper
Object history
Cynthia Jebb (Lady Gladwyn) was the wife of the British Ambassador to Paris, Sir Gladwyn Jebb, 1954-60. She hosted the state visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in April 1957, and invited her great friend Diana Cooper (the wife of the former French Ambassador) to the return state dinner held at the British Embassy on Tuesday 9th April, to which this dress was probably worn.



"The supper was, I think, just right for the occasion: cold salmon, chaudfroid of chicken, a salad, oranges and lemons filled with sorbet, and a wonderful Bollinger... The difficulty was to get rid of all the guests. They lingered on, and at half past one Cecil Beaton was still sketching Diana Cooper and Anne Norwich in the Ionian Room" - The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn, p.210.



Cecil Beaton collected several of the dresses worn during the events of this particular state visit – the Queen’s dress, T.264-1974; Diana Gladwyn’s dress, T.173-1974; and the Baroness Alain de Rothschild’s dress, T.121-1974.
Production
Made for spring/summer 1957.
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
Lady Gladwyn was the wife of the British Ambassador to Paris from 1954 to 1960. She hosted the state visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Embassy in April 1957, and invited her great friend Diana Cooper to attend the dinner held at the British Embassy on Tuesday 9 April, at which this dress was probably worn. It was designed by Pierre Balmain (1914-82), and the bodice features the appliqué technique favoured by him.



Lady Gladwyn wrote in her diary: "The supper was, I think, just right for the occasion: cold salmon, chaudfroid of chicken, a salad, oranges and lemons filled with sorbet, and a wonderful Bollinger... The difficulty was to get rid of all the guests. They lingered on, and at half past one in the morning Cecil Beaton was still sketching Diana Cooper in the Ionian Room".



In 1971 the society photographer Cecil Beaton collected several of the dresses worn during this particular state visit to donate the V&A. These included the Queen's embroidered ivory gown by Norman Hartnell (1901-79), T.264-1974, Lady Gladwyn's lilac lace gown by Jacques Fath (1912-54), T.173-1974, and Baroness Alain de Rothschild's spotted tulle gown by Christian Dior (1905-57), T.121-1974.
Bibliographic References
  • L'Officiel, March 1958, p.85
  • Vickers, H., 'Cecil Beaton' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, London), p.165 & pl.7.9.
  • Wilcox, C., 'Dior's Golden Age' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, London), pl.2.15
  • Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971
Collection
Accession Number
T.50-1974

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record createdFebruary 3, 2006
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