Tuesday, 12 February 2019



Ecarlate, silk faille afternoon dress, 1955

I spent a blissful afternoon today at the V&A's Dior exhibition ... and ladies, it is simply ravissante, one exquisite gown after another. As the reviewers say, no social context at all - but does it need to be spelled out? I'm quite aware of the post-war impact of the New Look because it didn't take much to get my mum reminiscing about the allure of full skirts with their yards and yards of fabric. I do think the V&A might have shown some of the punishing corsetry that it took to achieve those tiny waists. And prices. I'd love to know  - but if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Wasn't Mrs Harris's Temptytion four hundred and fifty quid?

Temptation was a black velvet gown, floor-length, encrusted half-way from the bottom up with a unique design picked out in beads of jet that gave to the skirt weight and movement. The top was a froth of cream, delicate pink, and white chiffon, tulle and lace ...

I was half expecting to see Temptytion on display this afternoon. (Incidentally, I got there at 3pm and to my amazement, it wasn't crowded. But don't dillydally if you need to book as I think it's already sold out until May.)  



There was this chic grey wool ensemble from Olivia de Havilland's wedding trousseau in 1955. And Princess Margaret's 21st birthday gown (with rather an ugly belt). And the most delicious little black dresses and hats that all seemed to have belonged to Margot Fonteyn.



 Look at the fabrics  ...




And the toiles ...

The garden room is enchanting, a pergola of cut-out paper wisteria and lilac roses.

I adore the English, dressed not only in the tweeds that suit them so well, but also in these flowing dresses, in subtle colours, which they have worn inimitably since the days of Gainsborough.





Lilies of the valley were Dior's favourite flower.

























Not so sure about the Galliano years. Although Marie Antoinette would have have loved it.




And this was exquisite ...



But this wasn't! You look at every single one of the 1950s dresses and think, "If only ..." The recent ones - not so much. But do go. It's a fabulous exhibition.

6 comments:

Toffeeapple said...

What a marvellous way to enjoy your day. Most of those dresses are stunningly beautiful, lucky you.

Mary said...

Most of them were ravishing, Toffeeapple - and just a few more recent ones that might have looked better in Top Shop! It's a huge exhibition, I could have done with half an hour longer.

Veronica Cooke said...

Oh Mary, I was dribbling by the end of your post. Descriptions (and pictures)of cakes and clothes have this effect on me! I would love to see this exhibition even if I have to wait for May. I particularly like the 1950s clothes as it was the era I was born and I vaguely remember some of the styles.

I started my first day at school in 1959 aged 4 and three quarters dressed in a green coat, with matching green leggings (like gaiters) matching green hat and wait for it - a matching green muff! God knows where my mum got the outfit from; it was way above our price range, but I used to receive mysterious donations of good clothes throughout my childhood. I never found out where they came from...

Mary said...

Well, I can see where you got your passion for clothes, Veronica! A muff for school! I had one for Sundays. I remember my first-day- at-school coat and beret - and my best friend's! In fact, I can remember quite a few outfits c1959-very early sixties.

Gina said...

I’m going next month and having seen your pictures, I can’t wait!

Mary said...

You'll love it, Gina.