White Satin Ball Gown with Heavily Beaded Bodice, 1955


Powdery-blue or blue-grey satin evening gown. Floral embroidery of silver, pink and blue-grey colored metallic threads (some appear to be tarnished silver, others may be synthetic) decorated with iridescent rhinestones and tiny sequins. Embroidery diminishes towards bottom of dress; no embroidery at hemline. Skirt smooth and curved in front, gathered in back. At center-back waistline is a large asymmetrical vertical bow with attached sash. Corselet inside of bodice. Bodice stiffened with white cotton net. Skirt lined with white silk organza; four layers of white nylon stiffened with horse hair. Inside-skirt of white silk crepe. Clothing label: AUTOMNE-HIVER/Christian Dior/PARIS/MADE IN FRANCE. Stamped on label: 78059. This dress was made for Elizabeth Parke Firestone, daughter of Harvey Samuel Firestone, for the re-opening of the Vienna Opera House, which had been badly damaged during World War II. It was worn with a mik stole; the embroidery is an interpretation of 18th century Chinoiserie. Mrs. Firestone was photographed extensively in this dress. Life Magazine included photos of her in an article about the Vienna Opera re-opening, mentioning this gown specifically. A number of articles also discussed the extraordinary cost of the dress - it was said to cost $10,000, but this cannot be verified. Some columnists claimed that the dress was decorated with real diamonds, but it was not.

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