For fashionable society women, ballgowns were the outfits which allowed the best opportunity for the most extravagant "dressing up". After the Second World War, in the later 1940s and throughout the 1950s, gowns usually took the form of fantasy floor-length creations using voluminous quantities of fabrics and trimmings. Indeed, in many ways, the 1950s saw the height of glamour in evening wear, exemplified in the work of stylish French and English designers, who could be commissioned to produce expensive and dramatic "one-off" outfits.
This gown by the South African born designer Victor Stiebel (1907-76) has a vast softly-gathered skirt in pink cotton organdie, printed with white spots with an attached white pique shawl-collar. This dress was a catwalk piece, commissioned by the Manchester-based Cotton Board directly from the designer, and shown at one of their fashion parades, in the Hyde Park Hotel in London in 1953. The original black and white photograph survives, showing the stylish and rather imperious model, Barbara Goalen, wearing the dress on this occasion. (see below)
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