c.1953 Christian Dior Couture Silver & Sequin Fantasy Gown
A similar gown from the Haute Couture collection of 1953-54 is held at The Met and we have included the photos below. You can see the similarity on line and cut. This version is perhaps slightly less dramatic in its fullness and skirting but equals that gown with its customized, hand painted fabric with its extensive sequin work. Just before listing this I had the great pleasure of having the Assistant Director from the Dior archives in Paris visit my studio and this particular gown was of note for all. This dress would have been custom ordered and based on the Haute Couture collection but to the clients specifications. Dior was quite brilliant on setting this system up for clients outside of Europe. It was a slightly less expensive way to buy, though they were still quite costly, but "clients were saved the cost of a trip to Paris, and the cost of import tariffs on haute couture". The Dior archives call this "semi-couture"
The 1953 collection was named ‘Ligne Tulipe’ and those lined carried through to fall as well. The dresses and gown were based on the upside down silhouette of the tulip, fitted bodices representing the stem, curves down into a tiny waist line and then blossoms out in a soft, full skirt. It is crafted from an unusual hand painted silver fabric with a raised and slightly "puffed" pale buttercream floral design worked directly into the fabric. The entire front of the gown is then covered by hand, with tiny iridescent sequins so the entire gown glitters and gleams in the light. The fabric alone is it is a testament to the workmanship of this period. It would have also been costly, placing this gown near the price point of haute couture. The bodice is fitted with an angled inset into the waistline and horizontal fabric detail running across and emphasizing the bodice. Beneath this simple exterior hides interior boning and wire. Beneath this, the skirt opens out beautifully with the fullness weighted to the back and sides and with precisely pleated detailing running down each hip. In person it is even more wonderful as the camera is incapable of truly capturing the richness of the fabric. An extraordinary find. In excellent, museum quality condition.
Fully lined in a yellow silk and closes at the back with a painted metal zipper. The interior bodice is boned and wired for support. There is some watermarks to the interior bottom hem but this only appears on the interior - the exterior fabric is unblemished. Interior hip padding. Primarily done by hand with some machine stitched interior seams to the inner lining. Note that it is photoed on a size 2-4 dress form and would not close at the back. It will best fit a size 0-2
Bust: 16" flat across from side seam to side seam
Waist: 11" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 8" from top of bodice to waist
Skirt: 39" from waist to front hem, 42" at the back
Modern Sizing Equivalent: XS
Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum; quotes: FIDM museum notes
This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.
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