Evening dress

Designer Elsa Schiaparelli Italian

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In contrast to the dinner suit's hard, masculine elegance, evening dresses of the mid- to late-1930s were softer and more feminine. Perhaps as a response to the reality of war, designers cast a nostalgic look to past styles. Particular interest was focused on the period 1850-1900, a time of relative stability in French politics and society. Designers translated styles from this period into ultra-romantic evening gowns intended to make women's figures elegantly voluptuous. Inspired by the silhouettes of the 1870s and 1880s, Vionnet, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli created dresses with bustles. Unlike the bustles from these periods, however, their fullness was achieved not through wiring or boning, but by the fabric alone.

Evening dress, Elsa Schiaparelli (Italian, 1890–1973), wool, brass, French

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