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Not currently on display at the V&A

Bal Masque

Cocktail Dress
1958 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The Duchess of Windsor patronised top Paris designers throughout her life. Christian Dior was a particular favourite. She was sixty-two years old when she selected this black evening dress. It was called 'Bal Masque' and came from the 1958 spring-summer collection designed by Yves Saint Laurent for the house of Dior. The style of the dress is influenced by the bell-shaped skirts fashionable in the 1860s. This influence can also been seen in the way it has been constructed. This dress has a tightly fitted boned corset and a bell-shaped skirt supported by a layered petticoat.The lightweight overdress is made of a double layer of spotted black tulle. It is studded with sparkling black bugle beads which are arranged in festoons caught at intervals by 42 bows of satin ribbon. The dress buttons down the back.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Additional TitleLigne Trapèze (named collection)
Materials and Techniques
Silk tulle and boned silk, with bugle beads and satin ribbons
Brief Description
Cocktail evening dress 'Bal Masque' for 'Ligne Trapèze' of silk tulle with beaded net tulle trimmed with satin, designed by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, Paris, 1958
Physical Description
Cocktail evening dress of black silk tulle with beaded net tulle trimmed with black satin bows. The dress has a low round neck, elbow length sleeves and a bell-shaped skirt, and with the net caught in drapes by the bows. The edges of the neckline and the sleeves are trimmed with black beads and there is a band of black satin around the hem. The bodice of the under petticoat is boned and the skirt petticoat has several layers of net and gauze, stiffened and boned. The dress fastens down the backs with hooks.



Black is used in a series of contrasts of matt and shiny materials. The confection of tulle is embellished with a scattering of tiny jet beads and a series of black satin bows.
Dimensions
  • Hem circumference:
Production typeHaute couture
Marks and Inscriptions
'Christian Dior Paris Printemps-Ete Made in France 94460' (Label inside bodice)
Gallery Label
'Bal Masque' short evening dress (robe du soir courte) Yves Saint Laurent (born 1936) for Christian Dior Paris 1958 spring/summer, Ligne Trapèze This dress was worn by the Duchess of Windsor and designed by Yves Saint Laurent for his first season following Dior's death in 1957. The young designer paid tribute to Dior's predilection for complex constructions with a boned bodice and full skirt supported by numerous layers of stiffened net and gauze. Tulle and net with beads and satin bows Given by the Duchess of Windsor V&A: T.125-1974(22/09/2007-06/01/2008)
Credit line
Given by the Duchess of Windsor
Object history
Made for the Duchess of Windsor. Worn and given by the Duchess.
Historical context
Dior's sudden death in 1957 threatened an international business empire. The fashion trade was of vast importance to the French economy, and its recovery after the war was helped immeasurably by Dior's success. Yves Saint Laurent's appointment as chief designer at the age of 21 presaged a shift in taste as the decade drew to a close and his 1958 triangular 'trapeze line' was hailed in the US as 'the first big change in female fashion since the New Look in 1947'. From Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-57 (V&A Publications, London), p.56.



The success of the collection was aided by the presence of the world's best-dressed women, including the Duchess of Windsor.
Production
Yves Saint Laurent for the House of Dior. Atelier: Jane. Original model: Victoire.
Association
Summary
The Duchess of Windsor patronised top Paris designers throughout her life. Christian Dior was a particular favourite. She was sixty-two years old when she selected this black evening dress. It was called 'Bal Masque' and came from the 1958 spring-summer collection designed by Yves Saint Laurent for the house of Dior. The style of the dress is influenced by the bell-shaped skirts fashionable in the 1860s. This influence can also been seen in the way it has been constructed. This dress has a tightly fitted boned corset and a bell-shaped skirt supported by a layered petticoat.The lightweight overdress is made of a double layer of spotted black tulle. It is studded with sparkling black bugle beads which are arranged in festoons caught at intervals by 42 bows of satin ribbon. The dress buttons down the back.
Bibliographic References
  • Mendes, Valerie. Black In Fashion. London: V&A Publications, 1999. p. 75
  • Fashion : An Anthology by Cecil Beaton. London : H.M.S.O., 1971no. 74
Other Number
94460 - Dior label number
Collection
Accession Number
T.125-1974

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record createdDecember 15, 1999
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