1953 evening gowns

31 May 2012

The whole country has gone slightly Jubilee crazy, which is nice. If you like that sort of thing. It’s even spread to the shops with even the most innocuous items being repackaged with crowns and Union flags all over the place or even, in the case of Marmite (Ma’amite) or Kingsmill bread (Queensmill) renamed in honour of the Queen. I really like it – like probably everyone else in this country I can claim descent from Edward I so I suppose it feels like the rich distant cousins are having an extensive party or something. Or so I keep telling myself.

In honour of the celebrations, here’s a collection of dresses from 1953, the year of the Queen’s coronation. I know that actually it’s 1952 we’re all celebrating but to me that year is tinged with sadness as obviously the Queen’s father, whom I like because he seems to have been a nice chap, died before she succeeded to the throne so instead I prefer to celebrate 1953 when the Coronation took place because that’s a lot more cheerful.

I met the Queen once when I was a teenager. It was very odd. But not as odd as the time I met David Bellamy. I wish I’d known that I was going to write this blog post in the future because I would have asked her about it all. ‘Your Majesty,’ I would have said. ‘You know your Diamond Jubilee? Well, it’s a great achievement to have lived and stayed on the throne for such a long time, obvs, but what do you think about the fact that people are buying special retro packets of Coco Pops and pots of Ma’amite in honour of what is basically the anniversary of your father’s death? Yes, that’s right. Ma’amite. Also let’s not go into the many and varied puns using corgis…’

Yes, it’s true, overseas readers, all English people have not only met the Queen but we’re all related to her as well…

So yes, anyway, 1953: a year of flounce, sequins, surprisingly vivid colour and nipped in waists. I swoon, I really do.

Dior, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bonnie Cashin, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles James, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles James, 1954 (couldn’t resist it so took a liberty), Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jacques Griffe, 1950s, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Balmain, 1950s, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jean Dessès, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Traina-Norell, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dior, 1952, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles James, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dior, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dior, 1954, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dior, 1954, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dior, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jean Dessès, 1953, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Balenciaga, 1953, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Schiaparelli, 1953, Victoria and Albert Museum.

John Cavanagh, 1953, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Dior, 1953, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What do you reckon? Got any favourites? Personally, I’d be happy wearing ANY of them! I like a bit of sparkle and those nipped in waists are so flattering. You can really see that people were starting to have fun with fashion again after the austerity of the war years.

Looking at these makes me wish that the Duchess of Cambridge would give vintage a whirl. She would look amazing in most of these. Can you imagine her on a red carpet in that emerald green silk Charles James gown? Breathtaking.

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