The strong combination of the complimentary colours, deep blue-green and red, was created using the latest fashionable chemical dyes at the time. This textile, woven with a large, bright red rose pattern on a dark and solemn background, shows the new taste in colours. The thickness and stiffness of high-quality silk fabric, like this fabric was ideal for creating the clear, sharp lines of the bustle style. In order to highlight the backside, cloth, ribbons, fringe, and other ornamentation increased the dress’ volume, as was the tendency of this period.
Lady Gladwyn was the wife of the British Ambassador to Paris from 1954 to 1960. She hosted the state visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in April 1957, and invited her great friend Lady Diana Cooper to attend the dinner held at the British Embassy on Tuesday 9 April. This dress was worn by Lady Diana, the wife of the former British ambassador in Paris. Lady Diana was a leading socialite of the time and a great friend of the society photographer, Cecil Beaton, who described her as a ‘tour de force of aristocratic beauty’.
Women with coquettish airs were imposing in robes à la française and robes à l’anglaise throughout the period between 1720 and 1780. The robe à la française was derived from the loose negligee sacque dress of the earlier part of the century, which was pleated from the shoulders at the front at the back. The silhouette, composed of a funnel-shaped bust feeding into wide rectangular skirts, was inspired by Spanish designs of the previous century and allowed for expansive amounts of textiles with delicate Rococo curvilinear decoration. The wide skirts, which were often open at the front to expose a highly decorated underskirt, were supported by panniers created from padding and hoops of different materials such as cane, baleen or metal. The robes à la française are renowned for the beauty of their textiles, the cut of the back employing box pleats and skirt decorations, known as robings, which showed endless imagination and variety.