cocktail dress

Christian Dior, London

cocktail dress

Christian Dior, London


Cocktail dress in dull black silk satin; elbow length sleeves; round cross-over neck with attached made-up bow to left; horizontal waist with pleated skirt; full skirt with attached black net underskirt; CB zip to waist; underarm set-in gussets; woven label, black on cream 'Christian Dior Ltd London' and stamped '9937' Donor paid £8 for the dress, second hand, in 1958 and wore it up to 1960. Her aunt, Eva, had a friend who used to repair and alter clothes for a Yorkshire lady and from this friend she bought second-hand several dresses for her daughters from a sale in aid of the lady's chosen charity. This was one of the donated dresses. See 2016.17 for a similar model.

Display Label

A short, boxy jacket and three-quarter length sleeves lend an almost doll-like quality to this white suit by Yves St Laurent at Dior in 1960, and casts a retrospective eye towards Chanel's celebrated boucle suits. Dior's famous New Look, characterised by narrow waistlines and wide skirts had a long reign in the world of haute couture, and the Gallery recently acquired a coat dress in chestnut silk satin by Dior in about 1955. This dress belonged to Faith Eaton, the Queen's doll restorer who lived in Little Venice, and the suggestion has been made that this outfit was far to grand for her, so was a perquisite from the Queen or Princess Margaret in the late 1950s. Another black cocktail dress of the same date was bought from Christian Dior, London around 1956, followed by a dress dated 1960, when slimmer and shorter styles were popular, and daywear was increasingly required to look neat, chic and simple. The next three images show the Duchess of Windsor's Dior outfit of about 1950 which she commissioned to have interchangeable wide and narrow skirt, exemplifying the 'New Look'. Then there are two seminal collection outfits from the Zigzag line (1948) and the Tulip line (1953). The last image, a printed silk cocktail dress, is from 1956. Dior's died suddenly in 1957 leaving behind a fashion house at the peak of success. House of Dior has maintained its position in the forefront of couture, employing its iconic logo to good effect in peripheral accessories and products as varied as perfume, luggage and handbags. A series of high-profile head designers working under the Dior label, starting with Yves St Laurent, and including such figures as Marc Bohan and John Galliano, have added glamour, humour and panache to the respectability of a long-established company, and ensured its continuing success.

Object Name

cocktail dress

Creators Name

Christian Dior, London

Date Created



length: 107cm
bust: 86cm

accession number


Place of creation




© Manchester Art Gallery

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