Charles James’ 1955 “Butterfly” gown features a body-conscious sculpted sheath and large bustle skirt, which is reminiscent of the tightly fitted bustle dresses of the early 1880s.
L’Eléphant Blanc is part of Yves Saint Laurent’s Trapèze collection for the House of Dior, Spring/Summer 1958, which introduced the versatile trapèze silhouette to haute couture. Saint Laurent’s first collection at Dior placed him firmly on the path to becoming one of the most well-known designers of the twentieth century.
No longer “society’s best kept secret” as the Saturday Evening Post called her, Ann Lowe is recognized as a pioneering African American couturier. Her pieces are preserved in renowned museum collections including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum at FIT.
Fashion in the 1950s saw a clear gender divide. While men and boy’s fashion moved towards a more casual day-to-day style, women and girl’s fashion prioritized elegance, formality, and perfectly matched accessories. Couture womenswear saw rapid change with new designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy disrupting the overtly feminine silhouette popularized by Christian Dior while novel prints and colors marked a playfulness in fashion for both men and women.
Sophie Gimbel’s black cocktail dress is studded with sequins and rhinestones, which gives the impression that the dress is covered in stars. It reflects the influence of Christian Dior’s “New Look” silhouette and the emergence of cocktail attire in the 1950s.
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