Evening ensemble, Peter Russell

Evening ensemble, Peter Russell

Evening ensemble (dress and coat)
Peter Russell
1937
London
(Coat) Interlined with undyed wool and lined with silk faille; (Dress) Pleated pale pink matt crepe, embroidered with beads and diamante
Museum no. T.363,363-1974
Given by Mr John Fraser

Couturier clothing like this was custom-made for each individual client, and was out of most women's reach. However, couture influenced the silhouette and style of more affordable fashions, and dressmakers everywhere followed its lead. The prevalent 1930s style was the bias cut, in which fabric is cut diagonally to the grain of the fabric, creating garments that skimmed over the body's curves. The 1930s silhouette is therefore slinky and close-fitting and the line was simple and uncluttered.

Towards the end of the 1930s, however, the fashionable silhouette altered slightly and the prevailing streamlined shape was gradually replaced by wider shoulders and constricted waists. Also, designers introduced embellishments like bold prints and surface decorations in an attempt to break away from the minimal adornment of the bias-cut line.

This elegant evening ensemble was designed by London couturier Peter Russell. It was worn by Mrs John Fraser (Ruth Vincent) and given by her son, Mr John Fraser. An almost identical version made in lamé was featured in Vogue magazine, where it was described as an ideal presentation dress.