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Centre for Textile Conservation, Glasgow

1950's Dior Dress

05   /   2018

This project encompassed the full treatment of a 1950's silk satin Dior dress belonging to the Manchester Art Gallery Costume Collection.


The dress, dating from around the time of Dior’s famous ‘New Look’ style, had been a sample dress made to show to customers at the London branch of the couture house.

The silk around the neckline and underarms was fragile, with many splits and tears. FTIR (Fourier-transform Infrared Spectroscopy) analysis revealed traces of what may be an early deodorant or antiperspirant on the more brittle areas of silk, which could explain the surprisingly poor condition of such a relatively young garment.

In addition to the analytical part of the project, I carried out stitched repairs to the extensive tears in the silk, and stabilised the boned under structure of the dress, where the boning was breaking free of its constraints. The final part of the project was the creation of a padded hanger and body form.


The client had requested that the dress be made suitable for hanging storage, but the strapless under structure was not sufficiently attached to the outer dress for them to be hung on a normal hanger. I therefore made a Fosshape ® body and padded hanger construction to fit inside the dress, so that the weight of the skirts sit on the hips of the body form, relieving the shoulder areas of the strain.

During this project I wrote a blog post about some of the specific challenges this dress presented. It is available to read here.


Images ©Manchester Art Gallery Costume Collection and ©University of Glasgow.

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