Evening ensemble

Design House: House of Chanel (French, founded 1913)

Designer: Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel (French, Saumur 1883–1971 Paris)

Date: 1936

Culture: French

Medium: silk

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Stephen M. Kellen, 1978

Accession Number: 1978.165.16a, b


In tune with the fashions of the 1930s, Chanel went through what has been called her "romantic" period, typified by lace and tulle gowns with skirt ruffles or flounces. Although the clothes are seemingly antimodern in their aesthetic, Chanel asserted their modernity by revealing and emphasizing the techniques of their construction, such as vertical overstitching to hold the soft lace tiers in fixed flounces. By using the virtuoso hand-sewn details of the couture as both structural and decorative devices, Chanel was responding to the clarion call of modernism that required design to speak of utility and truth to materials.