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Cocktail dress
  • Cocktail dress
    Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983
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Cocktail dress

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:


  • Artist/Maker:

    Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Jacquard woven silk, overprinted; silk velvet; rayon (lining)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Suki Bishop

  • Museum number:

    T.156:1, 2-2014

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The London couturier Digby Morton (1901-83) made this cocktail dress and matching coat for his wife Phyllis. Phyllis Digby Morton (1901-84) was a journalist and the first editor of the middle-market but groundbreaking woman's magazine 'Woman and Beauty' which launched in the early 1930s. The fashion journalist Felicity Green (b. 1926), who worked for her at 'Woman and Beauty' in the 1940s, described her as her first mentor who taught her 'the rules and rites of fashion journalism'.
Relatively few garments designed by Digby Morton survive and the majority are tailored wool suits and dresses, or evening clothes made in dark fabrics. However contemporary descriptions of his designs in newspapers and magazines during his lifetime stress his expert use of colour. This dress and its matching coat provide material evidence of this.

Physical description

Sleeveless fitted dress with a rectangular neckline at the front and a shallow 'V' at the back; a drape of self-fabric runs from the left side of the neckline at the front to just below the right armhole; the drape is secured to a short horizontal dart which runs across the CF chest with a worked thread; the bodice has two darts running from the waist seam to the bust and two darts at the back running from the waist seam to the shoulder blades; the back is cut to create a cross-over effect and deep waist band; the bodice is unlined. The pencil skirt, which is lined with pale yellow rayon, is fitted to the waist at the front and back with pairs of darts; a loop of self-fabric is draped from the left front waist to the left back waist; it is secured at the back with with press studs and weighted to keep it in position; there is a slanting welted pocked at the right hip; the dress closes at the left side with a zip and hook and eye. The full coat has no collar, long full sleeves with narrow cuffs, and falls edge to edge; it is fully lined with the fabric used to make the dress. The sleeves are set into the shoulder with three darts; each sleeve has one seam; there are a pair of front panels and four back panels which are each shaped at the neck with a dart.

Place of Origin

London (made)




Morton, Digby, born 1906 - died 1983 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Jacquard woven silk, overprinted; silk velvet; rayon (lining)


: 92 cm bust (dress), : 68 cm waist (dress), : 64.5 cm centre back waist to hem (dress), : 112 cm nape of neck to hem (coat)

Object history note

The dress and coat were designed by the London couturier Digby Morton (1906-83) for his wife Phyllis Morton (nee Panting, 1901-84). Phyllis Morton was a broadcaster and journalist, writing under the pen-name Ann Seymour. She was the editor of Woman and Beauty from the early 1930s to early 1950s.
Pieces of the dress silk were incorporated in a waistcoat worn by Digby Morton which is also in the V&A's collection (T. 152-2014).


Silk; Velvet; Rayon; Material


Jacquard weaving; Overprinted; Technique


Fashion; Clothing


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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