Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Cocktail dress
  • Cocktail dress
    Hartnell, Norman, born 1901 - died 1979
  • Enlarge image

Cocktail dress

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    early 1950s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hartnell, Norman, born 1901 - died 1979 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk and wool faille lined with horsehair, embroidered with sequins and diamanté

  • Credit Line:

    Given by HRH Princess Margaret

  • Museum number:

    T.238-1986

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Norman Hartnell was best known as the couturier to the British royal family. Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s he designed a wide range of clothes that Princess Margaret wore for her official duties. This evening dress is made in a heavy black ribbed silk called grosgrain. It shows the Princess's taste for uncluttered simple lines with the minimum of decoration. Here just the shoulder straps are embroidered with silvered beads and diamantés. The skirt is the most important feature. It is constructed in ten panels and finished with bold scallops at the hem. The heavy weight and density of the fabric holds the flared shape of the skirt and its wave-like folds.

Physical description

Cocktail dress of thick black silk and wool faille lined with horsehair. The bodice is tight and moulded to a heart-shaped décolleté, and with shoulder straps embroidered with sequins and diamanté. The skirt falls in petal-shaped panels from the waist and creates a scalloped hem. The dress has no lining.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

early 1950s (made)

Artist/maker

Hartnell, Norman, born 1901 - died 1979 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk and wool faille lined with horsehair, embroidered with sequins and diamanté

Dimensions

Circumference: 55 cm waist, Diameter: 100 cm skirt hem

Object history note

Registered File number 1985/2045.

Descriptive line

Cocktail dress of thick black silk and wool faille lined with horsehair, designed by N. Hartnell, London, early 1950s

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

de la Haye, A. 'Material Evidence' in Wilcox, C., ed. The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957 London: V&A Publications, 2007, p. 106 and pl. 4.16
Mendes, Valerie. Black In Fashion. London: V&A Publications, 1999.

Labels and date

Evening dress
Norman Hartnell (1901-79)
London
Early 1950s

Apart from mourning dress, it was unusual for the royal family to wear black. As Hartnell observed: 'As a rule, ladies of the Royal Family wear light coloured clothes because such colours are more discernible against a great crowd.'

Silk and wool faille lined with horsehair, embroidered with sequins and diamante

Given by Princess Margaret
V&A: T.238-1986 []

Materials

Faille; Wool (textile); Diamanté; Horsehair; Silk; Sequins

Techniques

Embroidered; Lined

Categories

Evening wear; Fashion; Royalty; Embroidery; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.