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Evening dress

Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1953 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hartnell, Norman (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk satin with beaded embroidery, trimmed with pleated net

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The designs of Norman Hartnell for Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) are among his best known. He first met Elizabeth in 1935, and continued making clothes for her until his death in 1979. Among the many beautiful state gowns was this 1953 gown in ivory satin, featuring Hartnell's trademark of intricately detailed beading in a design of blue flowers. The skirt spreads out over a bell-shaped crinoline, a look which Hartnell first designed for Elizabeth in 1937, and which became her traditional evening look.

In 1937, the new king, George VI asked Hartnell to create a new regal wardrobe for his wife. Hartnell's gowns included crinolines inspired by 1860s portraits of European royalty such as Elizabeth, Empress of Austria and the Empress Eugenie of France. This romantic, beautifully detailed and feminine look perfectly suited Queen Elizabeth and defined the style of clothing that she would wear as a key member of the British Royal Family.

Physical description

State evening dress of white silk satin with aquamarine and turquoise beaded embroidery in a frosted flower design. With a fichu collar around low neckline, and decorative panels trimmed with pleated net on the full crinoline skirt.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1953 (made)


Hartnell, Norman (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk satin with beaded embroidery, trimmed with pleated net

Object history note

Worn by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Descriptive line

State evening dress of embroidered silk satin, designed by Norman Hartnell, London, 1953.

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

de la Haye, A., 'Material Eveidence' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, London), pl.4.13
no. 155
Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971

Labels and date

Norman HArtnell designed this state evening dress for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The crinoline dress, with its V-shaped neckline and delicate tulle cap-sleeves, recalls mid-19th-century dresses as seen in the portraits of Franz Winterhalter.
In his biography, Hartnell recorded his trip to Buckingham Palace, when first invited in 1937 to design for the then Queen Elizabeth. George VI showed the designer the Winterhalter portraits in the royal collection and suggsted that 'I should attempt to capture this picturesque grace in the dresses I was to design for the queen'.
The crinoline silhouette became a favourite of the Queen Mother and throughout her lifetime she continued to wear variations of this dress type in her evening attire. [25/07/2012]


Silk satin; Beads; Net


Embroidery; Hand beading


Royalty; Fashion; Evening wear; Formal wear

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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