Once lost, now found
Country Life UK|November 25, 2020
Featured in Vogue and modelled for Princess Margaret, a haute-couture Dior dress then vanished for 50 years. V&A curator Claire Wilcox describes a fashion mystery
Claire Wilcox
WHERE do all the lost dresses go? This is a question that haunts curators such as me. For every exquisite example of haute couture in our collections, there are always others that we wish we had.

One such was Christian Dior’s Zemire, from his autumn/winter 1954 collection. I only knew it from photographs: posed in front of the Eiffel Tower; grainy footage I found in an obscure digital archive; part of a lineup of gowns shown to Princess Margaret at a charity event in Blenheim Palace in 1954 (Dior loved to dress The Queen’s sister—her feminine, hour-glass shape perfectly suited his New Look). I’d read the description in Vogue, which explained the fabric was grey silk, with fox-fur trimmed cuffs. I’d even seen Dior’s original presentation charts with a snippet of the silk pinned to it, a tiny sketch and the name of the house model who was to wear it: Renée, Dior’s favourite.

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