Object of the Month – February 2011
1950s evening dress
This 1950s evening dress is one of the star items on display in our All Dressed Up exhibition. The exhibition features men’s and women’s outfits from the 1890s, 1920s and 1950s.
In 1947 the French designer Christian Dior launched his New Look, inspired by the full skirts and corseted waists of the 1890s. After the clothes rationing and utility wear of the war years, women were eager to return to a more romantic and feminine look. Popular Hollywood film stars also had a huge impact on the way women wanted to dress.
In the 1950s a more glamorous and sophisticated style developed for evening wear which was a welcome change fromthe neat pencil skirts and sweaters of everyday wear. Fashionable evening dresses were often strapless with a boned bodice, narrow waist and a full skirt held out with layers of stiff petticoats. They were worn with stiletto heeled shoes and matching handbags.
In All Dressed Up, as well as this dress you can see more glamorous evening dresses, gentlemen’s morning and evening suits, underwear from the 1890s – including a corset – and a range of shoes and other accessories. They are displayed alongside paintings from the Herbert’s collection and a Triumph scooter!
All Dressed Up runs until 27 March at the Herbert and admission is free.