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Cocktail dress

Cocktail dress

  • Place of origin:

    London

  • Date:

    1952-4

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957
    Christian Dior London Ltd

  • Museum number:

    T.30:1, 2-2019

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Christian Dior founded his Parisian fashion house in 1946, with backing from the textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac. On 12 February 1947, the House of Dior launched its first collection. Dubbed the ‘New Look’ by the press, the collection had an instant and unparalleled influence on fashion around the world.

Following the success of his haute couture house in Paris, in 1952 Christian Dior set up a London-based company, C. D. Models (London) Ltd., to sell high-end ready-to-wear versions of his designs to the British public. Originally based in Stratford Place with workrooms in Maddox Street, the first collection of the London branch of Dior was launched at the Savoy Hotel on 10th December 1952. The London collection was based on the Paris haute couture collections but modified for a British clientele. C. D. Models (London) Ltd. changed its name to Christian Dior London Ltd. in December 1954 to coincide with a restructuring of management, giving the Paris company greater control.

This dress was later part of Peter Farrer's collection of vintage and historic dress and textiles. Peter Farrer (1926- 2017) was a senior tax inspector and cross-dresser who collected historic and twentieth-century women's fashion. He was the author of several books on cross-dressing and the subject of the 2017 exhibition Transformation: One Man's Cross-Dressing Wardrobe held at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and curated by Pauline Rushton. He favoured black taffeta in particular. Farrer purchased this dress at an auction of costume and textiles at Sotheby's Belgravia in November 1981.

Physical description

A cocktail ensemble consisting of a separate bodice and skirt. The bodice has a cross-over neckline and a metal zip fastening to the back. Inside the bodice has a tacked-in corset at the waist made of two layers of net and eight flat plastic bones, with book and eye fastenings. There is a mix of hand and machine stitching. The skirt is made from three widths of fabric, sewn selvedge-to-selvedge, each measuring 90cm (36"), with are gathered into pleats at the waist. There is an integral net petticoat. The skirt appears to have been altered at some point, probably taken down to make the skirt longer, and the hem is unfinished.

Place of Origin

London

Date

1952-4

Artist/maker

Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957
Christian Dior London Ltd

Object history note

Christian Dior founded his Parisian fashion house in 1946, with backing from the textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac. On 12 February 1947, the House of Dior launched its first collection. Dubbed the ‘New Look’ by the press, the collection had an instant and unparalleled influence on fashion around the world.

Following the success of his haute couture house in Paris, in 1952 Christian Dior set up a London-based company, C. D. Models (London) Ltd., to sell high-end ready-to-wear versions of his designs to the British public. Originally based in Stratford Place with workrooms in Maddox Street, the first collection of the London branch of Dior was launched at the Savoy Hotel on 10th December 1952. The London collection was based on the Paris haute couture collections but modified for a British clientele. C. D. Models (London) Ltd. changed its name to Christian Dior London Ltd. in December 1954 to coincide with a restructuring of management, giving the Paris company greater control.

This dress was later part of Peter Farrer's collection of vintage and historic dress and textiles. Peter Farrer (1926-2017) was a senior tax inspector and cross-dresser who collected historic and twentieth-century women's fashion. He was the author of several books on cross-dressing and the subject of the 2017 exhibition <i>Transformation: One Man's Cross-Dressing Wardrobe</i> held at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and curated by Pauline Rushton. He favoured black taffeta in particular. Farrer purchased this dress at an auction of costume and textiles at Sotheby's Belgravia in November 1981.

Descriptive line

Cocktail dress comprising of a separate bodice and skirt, black taffeta brocade with res and green roses, designed by Christian Dior, made by C. D. Models (London) Ltd., London, 1952-4

Materials

Silk taffeta

Categories

Ready-to-wear

Production Type

Ready to wear

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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