Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Evening dress

Design House:
House of Chanel (French, founded 1913)
Designer:
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, Saumur 1883–1971 Paris)
Date:
1939
Culture:
French
Medium:
silk, cotton, rayon
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. John Chambers Hughes, 1958
Accession Number:
C.I.58.34.18a–c
Not on view
Chanel's ascription of beauty to the Gypsy first manifested itself in the late 1920s, when she produced a range of Gypsy-like jewelry that hinted at Byzantine inspiration. Later, in 1935, Chanel further upended social and sartorial conventions by dressing as a Gypsy to Mrs. Reginald "Daisy" Fellowes' Bal Orientale. Reprising this look for her spring/summer 1939 collection, she produced a range of Gypsy-style dresses that were demure in silhouette, but bold in their formal borrowings from lingerie and underwear. Most daring were crinoline overskirts and, even more audacious, the revelation of broderie anglaise underslips. Other dresses from the collection featured lace ruffles at the bodice and the hem of the overskirt and underskirt, a design detail that re-occurred in her autumn/winter 1940 collection. A new feature, however, was her use of red, white, and blue - the colors of the Tricolor or French Flag. Originally an embracement of romanticized marginality, the Gypsy had become an expression of patriotism.
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