Evening Dress

1933-1934 (made)
Evening Dress thumbnail 1
Evening Dress thumbnail 2
+7
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This dress is sleeveless, with the neckline cut across the front in a diagonal, covering one shoulder only. The other shoulder has a narrow strap of leopard skin-printed crepe. The shape is figure-hugging--typical of the 1930s--and flares out at the hem, ending in a triangular shaped train at the back. It also has a triangular-shaped mantle made of leopard skin-printed chiffon.

This evening dress is an example of the 1930s vogue for fashion inspired by Africa and animal motifs, displayed firstly in the colonialist exhibitions, then popularised by Hollywood, through the Tarzan movies.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Evening Dress
  • Mantle
Materials and Techniques
Machine-sewn and printed crêpe
Brief Description
Evening ensemble consisting of a dress and mantle made of printed crêpe, Busvine, Great Britain, 1933-34
Physical Description
Evening ensemble consisting of a long evening dress and a mantle made of leopard printed crêpe. Machine-sewn.
Dimensions
  • Height: 1630mm
  • Width: 520mm
  • Depth: 700mm
Production typeLimited edition
Credit line
Purchase.
Object history
RF number is 1966/2686.



This evening gown was worn by Miss Emilie Grigsby (1876-1964) who was a wealthy independent American who came to England from New York. She established a salon which was frequented by writers and the military. She was considered to be one of the great international beauties, with extremely pale, almost transparent skin and golden hair. She was frequently the subject of articles in the New York Times during the early 20th century. Her clothes were purchased from couturiers in London, Paris, and New York, and demonstrated an elegantly avant-garde approach to style.



At the time of acquisition, Miss Grigsby was reported to have worn this dress when she met Benito Mussolini.



This evening dress is an example of the 1930s's vogue for fashion inspired by Africa and animals motifs, displayed firstly in the colonialist exhibitions, then popularised by Hollywood, through the character of Tarzan and his female companion Jane. The figure-hugging shape of the dress is typical of the 1930s.



Miss Emilie Grigsby wore this dress in a series of photographs taken by American writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten in 1934. The photographs are now in the Beinecke Digital Collections at Yale University Library.
Subject depicted
Summary
This dress is sleeveless, with the neckline cut across the front in a diagonal, covering one shoulder only. The other shoulder has a narrow strap of leopard skin-printed crepe. The shape is figure-hugging--typical of the 1930s--and flares out at the hem, ending in a triangular shaped train at the back. It also has a triangular-shaped mantle made of leopard skin-printed chiffon.



This evening dress is an example of the 1930s vogue for fashion inspired by Africa and animal motifs, displayed firstly in the colonialist exhibitions, then popularised by Hollywood, through the Tarzan movies.
Collection
Accession Number
T.147&A-1967

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record createdNovember 13, 2003
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