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Evening dress

Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1957 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Christian Dior London Ltd (maker)
    Christian Dior

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin organza, net and horsehair stiffening

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs William Mann

  • Museum number:


  • 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. In December 1954, the company changed name to Christian Dior London Ltd.

Dior wrote that ‘many a dress of mine is born of the fabric alone’, and in this dress he manipulates the luxurious, crisp satin organza to great effect. The two bows on the bodice of this dress appear to hold the soft gathers of the material together as it flows from the deep, falling collar into the closely fitting bodice. The bodice is complemented by a simple skirt. Full and short, its bouffant shape is pleated into a tight waist and supported by four layers of net petticoat beneath, the innermost reinforced by horsehair stiffening.

Physical description

Cocktail dress of satin organza, net and horsehair stiffening. With two softly tailored bows. Precisely placed at either side of the bodice, the bows draw attention to the flattering cross-over decolletage.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1957 (made)


Christian Dior London Ltd (maker)
Christian Dior

Materials and Techniques

Satin organza, net and horsehair stiffening

Marks and inscriptions

Number on back of Dior label

'Christian Dior UK Regd Made in England by Christian Dior Ltd London'
Round plastic tag in skirt


Circumference: 68 cm bust, Circumference: 59 cm waist

Object history note

Dior established his London house in 1954. Along with various other international 'branches' it provided high-end ready-to-wear.

Historical context note

This dress is very typical of the Dior silhouette from 1957. The bodice is tight and moulded, flaring from the waist to a rounded bell-skirt.

Descriptive line

Dress by Christian Dior London Ltd., silk (organza), net and crin, London, 1957

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

Claire Wilcox and Valerie Mendes. Modern Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 1991, p.94.
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.2.14
This dress was the basis for the illustration created by fashion illustrator David Downton, for the lead image of The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 exhibition, V&A 2007

Labels and date

Cocktail dress (robe de cocktail)
Christian Dior (1905-57)

Dior always included a red dress in his collections. He wrote that red 'is the colour of life. I love red and I think it suits almost every complexion. Bright reds - scarlet, pillar-box red, crimson, cherry are very gay and youthful.' He also described bows as the 'natural ornament' of a dress.

Satin organza

Given by Mrs William Mann
V&A: T.235-1985

[displayed with]
Christian Dior
Late 1950s
Given by Mrs Gloria Guinness
V&A: T.153&A-1974 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]

Production Note

Attribution note: High-end ready-to-wear


Organza; Net (textile); Horsehair


Fashion; Evening wear; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Ready to wear


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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