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1930-1932 evening dress (1953.388)

The boyish fashions of the 1920s had aimed to disguise as much as possible the female form, presenting a flattened angular silhouette. From 1930, the sexy slinky female form returned with sculptural figure-hugging bias-cut styles in clingy crepes and jerseys. Typical is this silk crepe outfit in bold contrasting panels of fuschia pink, emerald green and black, which moulds tightly to the figure and pools at the feet, revealing everything of the curves and bumps below. Crucially influencial were the new glamorous Hollywood stars such as Joan Crawford and Carole Lombard who were photographed in sculptural-style evening dresses which looked directly to classical models and silhouettes. Fashion at this date also looked to neo-classical styles popular at the turn of the twentieth century, when fabric was also used to drape the body (see below).

There is a label in the dress for the expensive London couture house, "Handley Seymour", which was patronised by the elite of London society and which had been chosen to make the wedding dress for the Duchess of York, later Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in the middle 1920s. This dress is unusual in having an attached cowl in black attached to the yoke, which can be drawn up over the head as a hood.

Full item descriptions:

"evening dress" [1953.388], Handley Seymour