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Evening Dress

1957 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Jacques Fath opened his Parisian couture house in 1937. He quickly became known both for his softly sculpted garments and a talent for self promotion. This dress is likely to have been designed by Fath’s wife and muse Geneviève, who upon Fath’s death in 1954, oversaw the house until it closed in 1957.

While the dress’s surface is a soft, delicate lace, in contrast the underpinnings are highly structured: its petticoat features a boned bodice and a crinoline skirt. The pale violet colour and two-tiered skirt suggest a romantic view of women’s fashion.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 3 parts.

  • Evening Dress
  • Petticoat
  • Sash
Materials and Techniques
Machine-made lace, silk lined with cotton, boned, net, plastic and nylon, and velvet
Brief Description
Lace evening dress, silk petticoat and velvet sash, designed by Jacques Fath, Paris, 1957
Physical Description
Purple lace evening dress, silk petticoat and velvet sash.
Dimensions
  • Bust circumference: 84cm
  • Waist circumference: 58cm
  • Skirt front length: 104cm
  • Skirt back length: 125cm
  • Petticoat waist measured inside the garment circumference: 61cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Petticoat underbust measured inside the garment circumference: 70cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Pettocoat hip measured inside the garment circumference: 86cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
  • Pettocoat waist hem length: 118cm (Note: Measured by Conservation)
Production typeHaute couture
Credit line
Given by Lady Gladwyn
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, April 8-11th 1957.



This dress was worn on the last evening of the state visit, Wednesday 10 April, to dinner in the Salle des Caryatides of the Louvre palace. “Tremendous trouble had been taken; statues moved, velvet curtains hung over the windows, small orchestra in the gallery” - The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn, p.211. She wore it with her 'Aunt Amie's wreath' - a wreath-like tiara worn forwards.



During the state visit, Mme. Dufy - Lady Gladwyn's vendeuse at Fath - attended her at the Embassy to dress her. On the first evening she wore a lime coloured satin gown, and on the second she wore a white tulle gown with red velvet bows on the back. The latter dress was sketched by Cecil Beaton who was also attending: "...at half past one Cecil Beaton was stilll sketching Diana Copper and Anne Nrowich in the Ionian Room. He then wanted to do me, but I aws too sleepy, and after a few minutes posing, went to bed" -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 Cooper’s dress, T.50-1974; and the Baroness Alain de Rothschild’s dress, T.121-1974.
Production
House of Fath
Associations
Summary
Jacques Fath opened his Parisian couture house in 1937. He quickly became known both for his softly sculpted garments and a talent for self promotion. This dress is likely to have been designed by Fath’s wife and muse Geneviève, who upon Fath’s death in 1954, oversaw the house until it closed in 1957.



While the dress’s surface is a soft, delicate lace, in contrast the underpinnings are highly structured: its petticoat features a boned bodice and a crinoline skirt. The pale violet colour and two-tiered skirt suggest a romantic view of women’s fashion.
Bibliographic References
  • Jebb, M., ed., The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn (London, 1995), pp.205-213.
  • Jebb, M., ed., The Diaries of Cynthia Gladwyn (London, 1995)
  • 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.
  • Sir & Lady Gladwyn Arrive For State Dinner [at the Opera on the first night?]. Photo by Pierre Boulat/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images. Image #: 53317202
  • Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 197195
Collection
Accession Number
T.173 to B-1974

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record createdOctober 9, 2007
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