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Woman's Court Ensemble: Skirt, Bodice and Headdress

Designed by Norman Hartnell, English, 1901 - 1979

Geography:
Made in England, Europe

Date:
1950

Medium:
Dress: silk tulle and gold lamé with silver lamé appliqué, sequins, rhinestones, beads, and metallic thread embroidery; Train: silver lamé, gold lamé, and silk tulle; Headdress: ostrich feathers, silk tulle, imitation tortoiseshell comb

Dimensions:
Waist: 28 inches (71.1 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1950-130-1a--c

Credit Line:
Gift of Gimbel Brothers, Philadelphia, 1950

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Additional information:
  • PublicationBest Dressed: Fashion from the Birth of Couture to Today

    Norman Hartnell designed theater costumes when he was a student at Cambridge, and throughout his long career he favored theatrical clothes perfectly suited to grand occasions. The preeminent British designer of his time, he was appointed dressmaker to the royal family in 1938; his flatteringly feminine designs, often modeled after the crinolined gowns of the mid-nineteenth century, set royal style for decades. In 1947 he designed the wedding dress of Princess Elizabeth, and in 1953, her coronation gown. This lavish dress, designed for an evening court presentation, exemplifies Hartnell's gala style, with jeweled encrustations of flowers above a full skirt made of yards and yards of tulle over sparkling gold lamé. It was completed with a court headdress of Prince of Wales feathers and a train that hangs from the shoulders, and accompanied by a feather fan, all traditionally worn by a woman when formally presented to the monarch. The ensemble, the highlight of a "Command Performance" showing of British fashions at Philadelphia's Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in 1950, is one of the last of its kind, since formal evening court presentations, discontinued during the war, were not resumed. Dilys E. Blum and H. Kristina Haugland, from Best Dressed: Fashion from the Birth of Couture to Today (1997) pp. 48-49