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Evening dress - Soirée de Décembre evening dress
  • Soirée de Décembre evening dress
    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957
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Soirée de Décembre evening dress

  • Object:

    Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1955 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
    Christian Dior

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk faille, boned, and tulle net

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dame Margot Fonteyn

  • Museum number:

    T.118-1974

  • 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.

This silk evening dress is one of Christian Dior's Y line designs from autumn/winter 1955. The strapless 'princess' style gown is a sculptural masterpiece. Haute couture designers enjoyed making two dresses in one. Here the front skirt is short, reaching lower calf level. At the back the skirt is long and forms an impressive train that sweeps the floor. The designer has used stiffening bands inside the neck and hem to keep the shape of the dress. The dress fastens with a zip at the back.

The dress was ordered from the Dior Paris salon by prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn, a long-standing client of Dior.

Physical description

Evening dress of black silk faille. The dress has a strapless fitted bodice and a full bouffant skirt, which is longer at the back. It fastens with a back zip and there is an attached black faille tie at the waist. The inner bodice is boned and there are several petticoats of black net.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1955 (made)

Artist/maker

Dior, Christian, born 1905 - died 1957 (designer)
Christian Dior

Materials and Techniques

Silk faille, boned, and tulle net

Marks and inscriptions

'Christian Dior Paris'
Label inside bodice

Dimensions

Circumference: 84 cm bust, Circumference: 625 mm waist, Circumference: 200 cm hem, Length: 932 mm

Object history note

Prima Ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn was a devoted client of Christian Dior’s throughout the 1950s. In 1955, she chose a grey silk Dior dress for her wedding to Roberto de Arias, the Panamanian ambassador to London.

Worn by the donor, with a matching fringed stole (not given to the V&A). Fonteyn is photographed wearing the dress backstage and onstage at a curtain call alongside Frank Tait at the Empire Theatre in Sydney, Australia on the 25th May 1957 (photographs in the Australia Photographic Agency Collection at the State Library, New South Wales call no. APA 03359 and 03361).

The original design was modelled by the Dior house mannequin Renée, and the Atelier was premiered by Hélène. The sketch on the charts at the Dior Archive, Paris, show the dress to have a very full bell-shaped skirt with the skirt supported to a flemenco shape.

Historical context note

Dame Margot Fonteyn, (born Surrey, 1919-1991), Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the Royal Ballet. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Fonteyn performed regularly with Soviet-born dancer Rudolf Nureyev during his tenure with the Royal Ballet.

Descriptive line

Soirée de Décembre evening dress, black silk faille, Christian Dior, haute couture autumn/winter 1955, 'Y' line, Paris, France

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

Mendes, Valerie. Black In Fashion. London: V&A Publications, 1999, p.67
Dior Archives, Paris
Oriole Cullen and Connie Karol Burks, Christian Dior , (V&A: London, 2019)
no. 377
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971

Labels and date

Soirée de Décembre dress
(‘December Evening’)
Christian Dior (1905–57)
Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 1955
Y line
Silk (faille)
Victoria and Albert Museum - T.118-1974 - Given by Dame Margot Fonteyn

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams [02/02/2019-14/07/2019]
[The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57]

'Soirée de Décembre' evening dress (robe du soir)
Christian Dior (1905-57)
Paris
1955-6 autumn/winter, Ligne Y

Hardy Amies wrote of Dior, 'He has a sure eye that respects the shape of a woman's body, given her by nature and a well-fitted corset. He has a firm hand, to carve the clear outline of his clothes. He has a sharp intelligence which restrains his details to the point of starkness.'

Silk faille

Worn and given by Dame Margot Fonteyn
V&A: T.118-1974 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]

Production Note

Atelier Hélène

Materials

Faille; Tulle; Silk

Categories

Evening wear; Fashion; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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