Dressing Up, Dressing Down

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dress & suit 2007.23

Object Name: dress & suit

Artist/Maker: Christian Dior, Paris
Role in production: maker
Place of Creation: Europe, France, Île-de-France, Paris
Date: 1949

Accession Number: 2007.23
Image Copyright: ©Manchester City Galleries
Credit: Manchester City Galleries

Physical Description

Medium / Material
  • silk
  • faille
  • corded

Black, narrowly corded, silk-faille ensemble, comprising bodice and 2 separate skirts, one narrow and one wide. Bodice with a wide neckline and fold-over collar, and 3 self covered buttons, lightly boned with tulle inner corset section fastened to the front with hooks and eyes. Large woven label, 'Christian Dior, Paris, 02195' with hand written ink label to reverse, '72081'. Two interchangeable skirts, in matching silk, one narrow with 12 self covered buttons fastening CF, and one circular with 4 buttons to fasten at side hip.
The suit was commissioned by Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, from Christian Dior, Paris, in 1949. Two sketches and one model photograph from the Dior Archives identify a very similar outfit from spring/summer 1949: Ligne Trompe L'oeil. There is a photograph of the Duchess of Winsdor with the Duke, at Waldorf Towers in June 1948, wearing a very similar black New Look suit. The suit with its separate narrow and wide skirts exemplifies the twin silhouettes of the 'New Look' and meant that the Duchess could produce different looks with the same bodice. The outfit was presented by Wallis to her lady's maid in Paris, Joan Martin, who then left it to relatives.The Duchess was very slim and 5feet 5inches tall.


Type: bust
Height: 86 cm

Type: waist
Height: 56