This gown is exceptional and it is a testament to the tailoring skills and vision and the man who would become the appointed designer to the Queen of England. Norman Hartnell was one of the British Couturiers who dressed the royals and the aristocrats. London's couture industry established itself after the 1st World War and distinguished themselves from the court dressmakers by presenting seasonal collections. Hartnell opened his couture house in 1923. By 1947 his house was thriving and he was dressing the British Royalty, Hollywood starlets and socialites. He once said “I despise simplicity. It is the negation of all that is beautiful." The dress is a near twin to the one lent to Princess Beatrice by the Queen to wear to her wedding. The Queen originally wore her dress on 1961 and then again in 1966. The Queen's dress originally had the same skirt shape and volume as this one does and the way the crystals are laid out to go past the waist and down into the skirt is strikingly similar on both dresses. This one is definitely a version of the Queens and it would be fascinating to know which dress came first.
Norman Hartnell was known for his opulent yet elegant designs, lavishly adorned embroidery, and use of intricate details. and this dress is a perfect example of that high attention to detail. The dress is made out of a fine black silk taffeta and has the sweeping lines that he was renowned for during this period. The top is cut to slightly pouf off of the body with wide straps that curve up and over the shoulder. They are set so that they will sit slightly off the shoulder if you wish. The skirt sweeps to the floor and literally has yards and yard of silk that make it up. At its hem it sweeps up and under to create a wonderful 'bubble' skirt effect. This gives it so much shape, volume and movement once on the body. It is incredible. The dress is finely pleated through the waist line and up into the bodice and then down into the top portion of the skirt. Scattered over the entire upper portion of the dress and the straps are hundreds of hand set crystal rhinestones in various sizes. These catch even the smallest bit of light. I always feel that he meant to capture the night time sky full of stars whenever I look at this dress. It is very romantic and very beautiful and a true piece of fashion history. An extraordinary example of couture from this time period. Excellent condition
Fully lined in a black silk and closes with a back metal zipper. There is an additional hook & eye closure just inside the zipper area and an inner waist stay. All the inner seams are hand finished to Haute Couture standards. The inner skirt is silk and has a tulle finish to the bottom half. There is an additional layer of tulle in the inside of the outer skirt. Each prong set rhinestone has been had placed and hand set. Hand finished throughout
Bust: to 17" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 13.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 15.5" from top of shoulder to waist
Skirt: approx 45" from waist to hem
Modern Sizing Equivalent: SML-MED
Reference Photo: Cherie, Owner of Shrimpton Couture, by Erin Leydon.
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.