Two piece cocktail ensemble comprising a black cloque silk bodice, with very wide low neckline; and a fitted tapering black silk satin skirt with applied front made-up bow. Unlabelled, but Dior Tulip line, Printemps/Ete 1953. Belonged to the private collector, BillyBoy*, the avante-garde artist, designer and art collector who has been collecting top-end couture for 40 years and who lives in Switzerland. He bought it in the 1970s on the advice of Mr Francois Lesage from a society woman in Paris, to whom he agreed anonimity. There are similar models illustrated in French Vogue Avril 1953 (p.88) with the same wide neckline and satin skirt; or in L'Officiel Septembre 1953 (p.67) for a Duchorne advert for Dior.
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.
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery