Pérou dress and coat

Evening Ensemble
1954 (designed)
Pérou dress and coat thumbnail 1
Pérou dress and coat thumbnail 2
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images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This dress comes from Christian Dior's (1905-57) H-Line collection of autumn/winter 1954-55. The H-Line was one of Dior’s most controversial silhouettes, and the press debated whether it should stand for ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Horrid’.

The design of the H-Line deliberately flattened the bosom to create a moulded, elongated shape that many found unfeminine. Dior maintained that it was inspired by Tudor dress, this influence can be seen here in the rich geometric embroidery of this dress.

The dress was worn with a gold satin coat, originally designed with a dark fur lining.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Evening Coat
  • Evening Dress
Additional Title'Perou' (Peru) (assigned by artist)
Materials and Techniques
Satin with silver thread embroidery and couched gold metal thread, lined with silk organza
Brief Description
Pérouevening coat and dress, gold silk satin embroidered in metal thread, Christian Dior, haute couture autumn/winter 1954, 'H' line, Paris, France
Physical Description
Evening dress of heavy gold satin entirely covered with embroidery in gold metal thread and couched gold metal thread of decorative interlocking hexagons around embroidered flowers of silver metal thread.



The dress is below knee-length with straight cut top which flattens the bosom, shoulder straps and a panelled front. The sides and back of the bodice are stitched down to a partial peplum around the hips, with the skirt flowing beneath in unpressed pleats.



The bodice and skirt are lined in white silk organza but the yoke of the skirt in unlined.



The dress fastens with a centre back zip and the skirt with press studs and hooks and eyes.
Dimensions
  • Hem circumference:
Production typeHaute couture
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'Christian Dior Paris 03951' (Stitched into dress side seam)
  • 'No. 38' (Pale blue tie on label )
Gallery Label
  • Pérou ensemble (‘Peru’) Christian Dior (1905–57) Haute couture, Autumn/Winter 1954 H line Silk (satin) and metal thread Dior showed this H line dress and coat at his Blenheim Palace fashion show in November 1954. Thirteen Dior models accompanied him to Britain for the show and his top model, the Russian Alla Ilchun, wore this ensemble. Embroiderers at Rébé took over 600 hours to create the dress’s elaborate gold metal decoration. Loyal Dior client Patricia López Willshaw ordered the dress and later donated it to the V&A. Victoria and Albert Museum - T.12&A-1977 - Given by Mme López Willshaw Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (02/02/2019-14/07/2019)
  • 'Perou' evening dress and coat (robe du soir courte) Christian Dior (1905-57) Paris 1954-55 autumn/winter, Ligne H This comes from a small collection that Dior showed in London in 1954, in the presence of Princess Margaret. The embroidery is exceptionally heavy and dense. Dior said that such a finish had to be used with great discrimination: 'being so rich, it may not look young. I advise you to use it for short evening dresses, full or narrow skirted.' Silk satin, the dress embroidered by Brossin de Méré with gilt and silver metal thread; the coat originally lined with fur Given by Mme Lopez Willshaw V&A: T.12&A-1977(22/09/2007-06/01/2008)
Credit line
Given by Cecil Beaton
Object history
Worn by Madame Lopez-Willshaw.



An identical model was worn at the showing of Dior's Autumn/winter 1954-1955 H line collection to Princess Margaret at Blenheim Palace on 3 November 1954.
Historical context
Mme. Arturo Lopez-Willshaw (Patricia), Chilean-born hostess, style leader; Paris. Pronounced 'International Best-Dressed Woman' by Vanity Fair in 1960.
Subject depicted
Summary
This dress comes from Christian Dior's (1905-57) H-Line collection of autumn/winter 1954-55. The H-Line was one of Dior’s most controversial silhouettes, and the press debated whether it should stand for ‘Heavenly’ or ‘Horrid’.



The design of the H-Line deliberately flattened the bosom to create a moulded, elongated shape that many found unfeminine. Dior maintained that it was inspired by Tudor dress, this influence can be seen here in the rich geometric embroidery of this dress.



The dress was worn with a gold satin coat, originally designed with a dark fur lining.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • American Vogue May 15, 1953
  • Dior Archives, Paris
  • Dior Archives, Paris
  • British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BP08115449312. (www.itnsource.com)
  • British Pathé film reel; ref ITN BGX50119011 (www.itnsource.com)
  • Pathé news reel, Gaumont Pathé Archives 5435GJ 00008
  • Wilcox, C., 'Dior's Golden Age' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, 2007), p.28
  • Oriole Cullen and Connie Karol Burks, Christian Dior, (V&A: London, 2019)
Other Numbers
  • 03951 - Dior label number
  • 1976/3042, MA/1/B832 - RF number
Collection
Accession Number
T.12&A-1977

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record createdOctober 18, 2005
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