Vintage Dior dress - 1950s?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by Panopticon, May 10, 2018.

  1. Panopticon

    Panopticon Registered Guest

    Hello there,

    This is my first time posting to this forum, though I have been lurking for some time. I’m hoping someone here might be able to advise me.

    Earlier this year, I purchased what I believe to be an early-mid 1950s Dior cocktail dress, from a vintage boutique in Toronto, Canada. Please see the photos I’ve uploaded.

    As you can see from the photos, it is not a haute couture piece, but was made in England by the London branch of Dior (which I understand opened in 1952).

    The boutique described the dress, on the sales tag, as follows: “Christian Dior (1953?) black silk taffeta, tulip skirt with bustle, dress”. It has an overskirt with a large bow in back, and a boned interior corselet. It is fully lined. The main seams are sewn by machine, but there is also a great deal of hand-finishing inside the dress. There is a long back metal zipper, marked ‘Lightning’.

    There are some issues with condition: the fabric around the underarm seams has begun to shred (see photos). The sleeve is unusual and is constructed with a triangular gusset - the fabric at the triangle points is what’s degrading. Also, the hem was loose when I bought the dress, but I have since repaired that. The hem contains three button–shaped weights (sewn at the side and back seams) as well as bias strips of black linen.

    The dress has three labels:
    • A large one at back (to the left of the zipper) reading "Christian Dior London Ltd – UK Reg’d – Modele Original – Made in England”, and stamped with a serial number: 28917.
    • Another at the back left of the corselet, identical to the first but with a different serial number: 33266.
    • A smaller white label at back right of the corselet, reading “Galeries Lafayette London”. I assume from this that the London branch of Galeries Lafayette was the original retailer of this dress.
    I have a number of questions which I hope some of the experts frequenting this forum may be able to answer (or point me to others who can):
    • Is the suggested date of this dress – 1953 – likely to be accurate? I would be thrilled to confirm that this dress was indeed made while Dior himself was still alive.
    • I presume the serial numbers on the label mean something – how can I find out more? Would it be worth contacting the Dior archive in Paris?
    I absolutely love this dress. It is a little large for me, however – I would consider having it altered to fit, and the small holes in the underarms repaired, but didn’t want to proceed with any such work until finding out more about the dress.

    Thank you all in advance for your advice and opinions! And if it would help for me to take and post additional photos of the dress, I’m happy to do that – just let me know what you would like to see.

    IMG_6366 (1).jpg

    Attached Files:

  2. bycinbyhand

    bycinbyhand Trade Member

  3. Pinkcoke

    Pinkcoke Trade Member

    This would be fairly comprehensive to alter so unless you're willing to spend on a high end seamstress to do it I would not alter a it will damage it's value to be done poorly or to a lesser standard than it was made.
  4. Panopticon

    Panopticon Registered Guest

    Many thanks for the replies so far. I agree that alterations would be difficult - though I do know someone who could do it. On the other hand, I could just gain 20 lbs and then the dress would fit perfectly. ;-)

    Any other opinions on it would be gratefully received.
  5. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    I agree that altering it will lower its value considerably and it wouldn't be easy to do. You could have the underarms restored, but that is all you should do. Even putting up the hem lowers the value. Dior London only started in 1952, so it can't be earlier than that, but the dress looks more 57-58 to me, which would be Bohan, who was designing at Dior London at the time.
  6. Linn

    Linn Trade Member

    I agree with Jonathan on the dating - '57- '58.

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