Evening dress by Cavanagh

Evening dress by Cavanagh

Evening dress made for Lady Cornwallis for the Coronation celebrations
Designed by John Cavanagh (1914-2003)
London, England
Spring/Summer 1953
Brocaded silk
Museum no. T.294-1984
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Given by Lady Cornwallis

This evening gown formed part of the John Cavanagh ‘Coronation’ collection. Although Cavanagh had been in business for just one year, he had already secured a reputation as a talented designer who catered for a discerning clientele, producing refined couture in luxurious fabrics.

The fabric was designed by Oliver Messel (1904-78), at the time Britain’s foremost designer of costumes and sets for stage and film, who was commissioned by Nicholas (‘Miki’) Sekers, who owned West Cumberland Silk Mills, an innovative textile company. The fabric was made using a weave particular to the Sekers company at this time. It is made of two separate layers of silk joined to form the design of scattered orchids woven in oyster, pale pink and green silk enriched with gold threads.