Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Evening dress

Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976)
ca. 1938
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946
Accession Number:
Not on view
Cecil Beaton photographed the Duchess of Windsor wearing this dress for British Vogue in 1939. To highlight and complement the eighteenth-century silhouette of the gown, Beaton photographed the duchess seated in a Louis XV chair against a Piranesi backdrop. During the late 1930s, as a reaction against sociopolitical realities, fashion and the decorative arts were heavily influenced by period revivalism.
Cecil Beaton was the Duchess of Windsor's official photographer and played an important role in constructing her public image. The pair first met in 1930, when the duchess was married to Ernest Simpson. Beaton's initial impressions of Wallis Simpson were far from favorable, describing her as "brawny and raw-boned in her sapphire blue velvet." On his next meeting, however, which took place in 1934, he found her appearance much changed: "I liked her immensely. I found her bright and witty, improved in looks, and chic."
Related Objects

Evening ensemble

Artist: (a) Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976) Date: 1960s Medium: [no medium available] Accession: 1975.53.55a, b On view in:Not on view

Evening dress

Artist: Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976) Date: spring/summer 1949 Medium: nylon, rayon, cotton Accession: C.I.64.41a, b On view in:Not on view


Artist: Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976) Date: ca. 1963 Medium: wool Accession: 1970.163 On view in:Not on view

Evening skirt

Artist: Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976) Date: 1949 Medium: cotton, synthetic Accession: 1970.253 On view in:Not on view

Evening dress

Artist: Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976) Date: 1953–57 Medium: silk, metal thread Accession: 1973.42 On view in:Not on view