Cocktail dress in black silk satin; short cap sleeves, v neck line, single breasted, fastening with 5 self fabric covered buttons, spiralling tiered skirt. Unlabelled but probably Dior's Autumne/Hiver 1950 Oblique line. Belonged to the private collector, BillyBoy*, the artist 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 woman in Paris, who also owned a labelled Martinique ball gown (lot 80), and who wore Dior exclusively in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Dior introduced his Oblique or 'slanted' line for AW 1950 and had models with skirt which had diagonally slanted tucks (see American Vogue, 1 Sept 1950, p.132. See Dior in Vogue, p. 71 for another model with a short black crepe evening dress 'with diagonal tucks' slanted to one side. Also French Vogue Sept 1951 for a very similar skirt by Dior (p.41) The dress was said by the vendor to be Dior's ZigZag line of 1948 and there are some similarities: see sketch showing similar skirt in Alexandra Palmer: Dior (V&A 2009) p.59. Also L'Officiel, Avril 1948 p.76 'La ligne Zig-zag de Christian Dior'. with similar skirt.
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