Evening ensemble

Designer: Emanuel Ungaro (French, born 1933)

Date: 1990–92

Culture: French

Medium: silk

Dimensions: Length at CB (a): 62 in. (157.5 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Anne H. Bass, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.345.15a–c


Emanuel Ungaro's classical gown, like the magnificent peplos and capacious himation befitting the noblest Olympian goddess, is discrete in its coverage. With the attributes of the Greco-Roman gods so clearly defined, it is possible to ascribe mythic identities to contemporary garments even in the absence of explicit identifications. Current notions of classical dress are surprising in the breadth of their parameters. They are based in part on the original variations and manipulations of the antique models, the attributes accrued to it over time by artistic convention, and the twentieth-century adaptation of ancient methods to modern forms. That the dress of people two-and-a-half millennia in the past can imbue a design of today with the aura of myth and timeless beauty suggests that the classical mode, like Penelope's weaving, is continuous and without end.