Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Evening dress

Designer:
Madeleine Vionnet (French, Chilleurs-aux-Bois 1876–1975 Paris)
Date:
fall/winter 1938–39
Culture:
French
Medium:
metal thread
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946
Accession Number:
C.I.46.4.25a, b
Not on view
"Mrs. Harrison Williams was a chef d'oeuvre, breathing a rarefied air of mystery, like some undine or goddess from another world who yet chooses to dress in the height of fashionable conventionality."
Cecil Beaton

In December 1933, Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Vionnet, Balenciaga, Molyneux and Mainbocher named Mrs. Harrison Williams the "Best Dressed-Woman in the World." Like Lady Mendl and the Duchess of Windsor, she possessed an inconspicuous elegance, which she achieved by choosing the clean and subdued lines of Vionnet and Balanciaga. Vogue observed, "She never orders the 'successes' in a collection, but instead, the costume which is noticeable only on second glance."

Mrs. Harrison Williams' style and beauty have been immortalized in art, music and literature. In "Ridin' High" Cole Porter sang "What do I care if Mrs. Harrison Williams is the best dressed woman in town." In Truman Capote's Answered Prayers, she was the model for the character Kate McCloud.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The 10s, the 20s, the 30s: Inventive Clothes (1909–1939)," December 13, 1973–September 3, 1974.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of Fashion," October 23, 1967–January 1, 1968.

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.

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