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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Evening dress

Designer:
Mainbocher (American, 1890–1976)
Date:
ca. 1938
Culture:
French
Medium:
silk
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946
Accession Number:
C.I.46.4.1
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."
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Two by Two," September 10, 1996–November 17, 1996.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seeds of Fashion," February 15, 1951–August 31, 1951.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Blithe Spirit: The Windsor Set," November 1, 2002–February 9, 2003.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Paris Openings, 1932–1940," November 19, 1940–February 11, 1941.

The John Wanamaker Auditorium. "Exhibition of Dresses Worn by Well-known Women of Europe and America," May 1, 1940–May 31, 1940.

John Wanamaker. "Exhibition of Dresses Worn by Well-known Women of Europe and America," June 5, 1940–July 5, 1940.

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