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Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    paris, France (made)

  • Date:

    1922 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Chanel, born 1883 - died 1971 (designer)
    Kitmir (embroiderer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand-sewn silk georgette, hand-embroidered with glass beads and gold thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Hon. Mrs Anthony Henley

  • Museum number:

    T.86-1974

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Image in copyright

This ankle-length evening dress is made of black silk georgette embroidered with golden thread and bugle beads. It is sleeveless with a square-shape neckline and a straight long bodice. The dress is slightly larger from the hip level down. It has convoluted embroidered motifs on the bodice, and vertical stripes and motifs embroidered with golden thread on the skirt. Black silk drapes trim the side of the skirt, which is open from the knee. A black silk petticoat is attached at the bodice. Chanel designed it about 1922.

This evening dress of the early 1920s illustrates the transition between the romantic picture dress with its wide skirt and the more 'Cubist' straight and square shape of the mid 1920s. The stylised embroidered motifs were Chanel's trademark at this period. They witness her relationship with the Russian House of Kitmir, who embroidered exclusively for her.

Physical description

Sleeveless and ankle-length evening dress made of black silk georgette embroidered with golden thread and bugle beads. Square-shape neckline and straight long bodice. Dress slightly larger from hip-level down. Convoluted embroidered motifs on the bodice, and vertical stripes and motifs embroidered with golden thread on the skirt. Black silk drapes trim the side of the skirt which is open from the knee. A black silk petticoat is attached at the bodice.

Place of Origin

paris, France (made)

Date

1922 (made)

Artist/maker

Chanel, born 1883 - died 1971 (designer)
Kitmir (embroiderer)

Materials and Techniques

Hand-sewn silk georgette, hand-embroidered with glass beads and gold thread

Object history note

Early 1920s evening dress illustrating the transition between the romantic picture dress with its wide skirt and the more cubist square shape of the mid 1920s. The stylised embroidered motifs were the trademark of Chanel at this period and witness her relationship with the Russian House of Kitmir who embroidered exclusively for her.

Descriptive line

Sleeveless and ankle-length evening dress of hand-embroidered silk georgette, designed by Coco Chanel and embroidered by Kitmir, Paris, 1922

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

Mendes, Valerie. Black In Fashion. London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Exhibition History

Black in Fashion (Victoria and Albert Museum 01/01/1999-31/12/1999)
The Little Black Dress (Victoria and Albert Museum 01/01/1983-31/12/1984)
Fashion: an anthology by Cecil Beaton (Victoria and Albert Museum 01/01/1972-31/12/1972)

Labels and date

EVENING DRESS
Silk voile embroidered with bugle beads and silver-gilt and gilt frisé
French, Paris, Chanel, about 1922

It seems that 'Chanel's growing predilection for black...'developed after the death of her lover Boy Capel in 1919. In her biography "Chanel" (Grasset, 1974) Edmonde Charles-Roux charts the designer's liberating contributions to 20th century fashion and the evolution of her little black dresses. She observes that Chanel drew on her humble origins when she exploited the black of peasant costumes and made 'black the instrument of her success'. '1925 was the year of women in black' and between 1925 and 1927 black dresses (many by Chanel) had maximum exposure in fashion magazines, particularly Vogue. As well as revolutionary designs (her jersey suits etc.) Chanel produced 'mainstream' works such as this beaded dress. Her contemporaries were amazed when in the early 1920s she employed embroideresses and wondered if this meant the end of her severe and undecorated clothes - this was not the case. This dress has all the features associated with 1920s evening attire - a tubular, low-waisted shape lavishly beaded. The abstract geometric design is carefully disposed (the panels were embroidered to shape) over the garment and the cylindrical silhouette is broken by the tabbed skirt.

Worn and given by Mrs Anthony Henley
The Cecil Beaton Collection
T.86-1974

Materials

Glass beads; Metallic thread; Silk georgette

Techniques

Hand sewing; Hand embroidery

Categories

Embroidery; Fashion; Evening wear; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection code

T&F

Qr_O72654
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