Dior 'Ecarlate' cocktail dress (before conservation)
Autumn/Winter Y-line collection 1955-56
Museum no. T.25-2007
One of the first projects that I worked on for 'The Golden Age of Couture' exhibition was a cocktail dress designed by Christian Dior for his Autumn/Winter Y-line collection in 1955-56. This typifies the Y-line motif that Dior employed - the deep V-neck and the inverted Y of the skirt pleats.
'Ecarlate' (scarlet), a signature costume in the exhibition, is cut and pieced to give the impression that it is formed in two main sections - an under layer and a simulated over-skirt tied at the waist with a fringed tie.
A number of previous repairs and alterations that were made prior to acquisition had altered the original profile. From evidence found in a contemporary image, released from the House of Dior to advertise the dress, it was possible, with the curator's help, to return it to a more appropriate shape.
Additionally the original lightweight silk underdress was in poor condition and required a considerable stitch support treatment to stabilise it before it could be mounted on a mannequin for display.