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Evening Dress

ca. 1958 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In 1954, at the age of 71, Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel' (1883-1971) presented a comeback collection, after a retirement of fifteen years. She challenged the formality and complexity of the fashions of the time, and was critical of designers such as Christian Dior (1905-57). Pat Cunningham, editor of Vogue said, 'Femininity had gone too far - you needed stage-coach luggage to pack your frocks in and ladies' maids to fix the trimmings and petticoats. Chanel simplified clothes to meet modern needs.'

In 1957 Dior died, leaving Chanel once more the undisputed leader of fashion. In this year she won the Neiman-Marcus award for fashion, and in 1958 Vogue declared her 'more truly of today' than many designers half her age.

This dress was worn by the 1950s model, Anne Gunning Parker (later Lady Nutting).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Lace over silk and net boned foundation
Brief Description
Strapless evening dress of lace over silk, designed by Chanel, Paris, ca. 1958
Physical Description
Evening dress of black lace over silk. Strapless, form-fitting, and with a skirt that flares out at the hem into a triple flounce. Boned foundation with net stiffening.
Style
Production typeHaute couture
Gallery Label
[case panel] Cocktail and Early Evening Daywear was followed by formal afternoon dresses (robes après-midi habillées), cocktail dresses (robes de cocktail), semi-evening (robes demi-soir) and short evening dresses (robes du soir courtes). These distinctions became simpler as the decade progressed and social codes began to break down. Cocktail dresses first appeared in the 1920s and gained a new popularity after the war. They were worn at early evening or ‘6 to 8’ gatherings, where guests usually stood and mingled. The gowns could include complex bustles and skirt details, which would be crushed if sat on. In his book the Little Dictionary of Fashion (1954) Christian Dior described cocktail dresses as ‘elaborate and dressy afternoon frocks’, preferably in black taffeta, satin, chiffon and wool. These confections became the personification of the ‘little black dress’ and were often accessorised with gloves and small hats. [object label] Cocktail dress (robe de cocktail) Gabrielle Chanel (1883-1971) Paris Mid 1950s This black lace dress was worn by the leading British model Anne Gunning. Its slender, flared shape is quite different to the conventional full skirts of most evening dresses of the time. Worn by the fashion model Anne Gunning Parker (later Lady Nutting) and given by Lord Anthony Nutting V&A: T.131-1990(22/09/2007-06/01/2008)
Credit line
Given by Sir Anthony Nutting, in memory of Anne, Lady Nutting
Object history
Registered File number 1990/125. Worn by the model Anne Gunning Parker (later Lady Nutting) and given by Lord Anthony Nutting.



Chanel's presented her come-back collection in 1954 after an absence of 15 years. The first collections were not very popular and the editor of Vogue Bettina Ballard recalls that only about six outfits were ordered by buyers (de la Haye, A. & Tobin, S. Chanel: The Couturiere at Work. V&A Publications, 1994, p.94).



By the time that this dress was made however 'Chanel was back on top agian. Some of the best-dressed women in the world were to be numbered among her clients...' (ibid. p.97)
Summary
In 1954, at the age of 71, Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel' (1883-1971) presented a comeback collection, after a retirement of fifteen years. She challenged the formality and complexity of the fashions of the time, and was critical of designers such as Christian Dior (1905-57). Pat Cunningham, editor of Vogue said, 'Femininity had gone too far - you needed stage-coach luggage to pack your frocks in and ladies' maids to fix the trimmings and petticoats. Chanel simplified clothes to meet modern needs.'



In 1957 Dior died, leaving Chanel once more the undisputed leader of fashion. In this year she won the Neiman-Marcus award for fashion, and in 1958 Vogue declared her 'more truly of today' than many designers half her age.



This dress was worn by the 1950s model, Anne Gunning Parker (later Lady Nutting).
Bibliographic Reference
de la Haye, A. & Tobin, S. Chanel: The Couturiere at Work. V&A Publications, 1994, p.96.
Collection
Accession Number
T.131-1990

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record createdJanuary 10, 2008
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