Mme. Grès (1903-94)
Spotted net with gathered side drape
Museum no. T.245&A-1974
Given by Mrs Leo d'Erlanger
Cocktail dresses gained a new popularity after the Second World War. They were worn at early evening or '6 to 8' gatherings. Since guests usually stood and mingled the gowns could include complex bustles and skirt details, which would be crushed if sat on.
In his book 'The Little Dictionary of Fashion' (1954) Christian Dior (1905-57) described cocktail dresses as 'elaborate and dressy afternoon frocks', preferably in black taffeta, satin, chiffon and wool. These confections became the personification of the 'little black dress' and were often accessorised with gloves and small, elaborate hats.