Christian Dior (French, Granville 1905–1957 Montecatini)
Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1956
Not on view
By tacking the soft fabric to a rigid underbodice in frozen folds, the designer took full advantage of the attributes of the dress, combining strict silhouette and lissome flow. The fabric spirals around the body in a torque of drapery that is only possible through the surety of an infrastructure.
Summer residence of France's kings and queens and royal hunting grounds for centuries, Compiègne is a richly evocative place. In one of Dior's last great historicist collections, he used the mystique of Compiègne for a dress with the silhouette of the crinoline forms of the Second Empire. Its lush textile may also be an homage to the long history of such French silks and dress fabrics. Although the undeniable focus of this gown is the virtuoso wet-draping effect of the bodice, the subtle center-front inverted skirt pleat recalls Dior's earlier interest in scissorlike construction.