Balmain evening gown, 1950-5. Photo: Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Now, although my own sartorial preference tends towards the black and gothic, I’ve deliberately avoided dark hues for this calendar so far as it just doesn’t feel very festive. I think that this Balmain evening gown from the early 1950s is perhaps the anti-goth in many ways although possibly not as there’s a touch of the heartless ice queen about it, isn’t there?
It’s so easy, I suppose, for white dresses to come off as all bridal, virginal or fairy on top of the tree like but this gown, I think, really is the antithesis of this despite that flurry of ostrich feathers and those sharp clusters of rhinestones. Probably worn by a debutante at her coming out ball, at first glance this is a dress for a demure young thing who hides behind the curtains at Mayfair balls but at second it’s quite clearly intended to be worn by her sophisticated best friend who knocks back martinis like they’re about to bring back prohibition and punctuates witty stories with an elegant swirl of her cigarette holder. In a nutshell – it’s fabulous.
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