Crisp, black grosgrain silk gives a sharp definition to this stylish if deceptively simple cocktail dress which still looks back to a 1950s silhouette. However, its neat unfussy lines are created and supported by a complicated understructure using stiffened black net, boning, foam bust padding and a layered underskirt. Elegant but unfussy, this dress exemplifies Dior's 1954 declaration that "a little black frock is essential to a woman's wardrobe".
In 1947, Christian Dior staked his place in fashion history with his famous "New Look", featuring sloping shoulders, nipped-in waists and voluminous skirts. His new, romantic styles marked a sudden end to the angular, fabric-saving designs that had dominated women's fashion during World War II and in the immediate aftermath. The two outfits below are both designed by Dior, the first in 1953 and called 'James'; and the second in autumn/winter 1957, Dior's last collection, called 'Automne'.
The Christian Dior label continued to prosper after the designer's death in 1957 under the leadership of Yves Saint Laurent from 1958 to 1960. This dress is from YSL's last collection before Marc Bohan took over for a 30 year spell at the House.
Full item descriptions:
"cocktail dress" [1984.713], Christian Dior, London, Samuels, Manchester
"dress & jacket" [2007.34], Christian Dior, Paris
"dress & jacket" [2007.35], Christian Dior, Paris