Monday, January 13, 2014

History's Runway: The Givenchy 'Les Muguets' (Lilies of the Valley) Gown, 1955

Gown by Givenchy, 1955
Les Muguets -- The Lilies of the Valley
Made for the Viscountess de Bonchamps
Collected by Cecil Beaton
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Formal evening gowns, well into the 1950s remained an essential part of a society lady’s wardrobe.  A lady often had a wardrobe filled with a variety of sumptuous gowns, usually couture, which were lavishly embroidered and accessorized with jewels.  These gowns were meant to be worn to receptions and balls, the opera or the theatre. While some were worn more than once, a majority of these gowns were commissioned for a specific occasion, and worn only once.

This dress of white silk organdie is embroidered with silk thread and sequins from top to bottom in a repeating pattern of lily of the valley--done entirely by hand by one of the many specialist workshops in Paris where each tiny sequin and stitch was placed individually by a team of highly-skilled embroiderers.

The full-length, strapless dress with a high waist and train was worn with a pair of full-length black evening gloves.
  It was designed and made in Paris in 1955 by Hubert de Givenchy for the Viscountess de Bonchamps.  The gown was later purchased by famed Society photographer Cecil Beaton who presented this, as well as an important collection of gorgeous gowns, to the V&A.

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