Evening dress

Designer: Madeleine Vionnet (French, Chilleurs-aux-Bois 1876–1975 Paris)

Date: 1939

Culture: French

Medium: cotton, metallic

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, 1952

Accession Number: C.I.52.24.2a, b


This dress of pale pink lamé and black silk lace appliquéd with black silk velvet is from the personal collection of Monda Bismarck. American socialite Mona Strader was born in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1917, Strader married Henry Schlesinger, a Milwaukee businessman. That marriage ended in divorce three years later. After a second marriage in 1924, to James Irving Bush (the "handsomest man in America"), which also ended in divorce, she married Harrison Williams, an Ohio financier and multimillionaire. It was during their marriage that she became known as one of the best dressed women in America. Widowed in 1953, Mona married Count Edward von Bismarck, grandson of Otto von Bismarck, (the "Iron Chancellor"), whereupon she became the Countess Bismarck. Upon the Count's death, 15 years later, in 1970, the Countess married his doctor, Umberto de Martini, who, after his death in 1979, was discovered to have been commiting bigamy.