Today’s favourite dress

19 March 2011

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

I was going to have a bit of a blogging holiday this weekend while I catch up with some work and get on with my book, but I couldn’t resist sharing this dress with you all. I found it in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, while researching dresses from the 1780s.

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

This dress was designed by Christian Dior (1905-57) in 1957, the year of his death. It was commissioned by the Baroness Alain de Rothschild to wear for the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Paris in April 1957. Many grand events were held during the visit, such as dinners at the Louvre, Versailles and the Elysée Palace, and also visits to the opera and races.

The state visit was the highlight of the year’s social calendar. Couturiers were inundated with requests for evening gowns and gala dresses from society ladies. Lady Gladwyn, the wife of the British Ambassador, commented in her diaries that even the Queen’s dresses did not compare to the French clothes for grandeur.’Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Dirty or not, it is still gorgeous and it really reminds me of the floaty dresses worn by Marie Antoinette and her chums at the Trianon.

If that’s not to your taste then how about this dress from the 1880’s?

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

May Littledale (née Primrose) wore this romantic ball gown shortly after her marriage to Henry Littledale in 1885. Unfortunately she did not have long to enjoy it as she died in a riding accident the following year.

May had excellent taste in dress and the gown is at the height of fashion for its time. The heavily boned bodice is laced behind like a corset and extends into a deep point, which gracefully curves over the back of the skirt. This emphasises the tiny waist and bustled (padded at the rear) silhouette that were hallmarks of stylish dress in the mid-1880s. The bodice is also cut fairly high on the hips to allow for the folds of moiré silk draped across the front and sides of the dress to complement the huge bow.’ — Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.