Support Fashion Council’s efforts to keep The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection intact and at the FIDM Museum by “adopting” an item from the collection. Garments and accessories chosen for adoption from this exceptional collection are likely to be exhibited nationally and internationally. Patrons’ names are perpetually associated with their object and included in its credit line.
With over 1,000 objects, The Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collections offers numerous opportunities for adoption. Many objects have already been adopted, including a formal gown worn by Queen Victoria at her Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and a c. 1907 Callot Soeurs evening gown worn by internationally famous beauty Consuelo Vanderbilt, the 9th Duchess of Marlborough. Among the objects up for adoption is this shimmering Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel evening dress of silk chiffon and netting hand-embroidered with thousands of black glass bugle beads.
For more information about this unique opportunity to support the FIDM Museum, contact the curatorial office: kjones@FIDMmuseum.org or 213.623.5821.
Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971) began her fashion career just before the outbreak of World War I, a time when the ideal female physique was undergoing a dramatic transformation. Curvaceous figures cinched with corsets were out—replaced by slim, boyish bodies. Chanel based her revolutionary haute couture on her own cutting-edge wardrobe. The clothing she sold appealed to newly active, independent women like herself.
This evening dress features thousands of bugle beads hand-embroidered on silk chiffon and netting in Chanel’s favorite color: black. Being sleeveless and short-hemmed, it was meant to reveal a woman’s toned and suntanned body. A lengthy beaded tassel hangs to one side; it imparted a sense of movement with the wearer’s every step or sway. On October 1, 1926, American Vogue included a drawing of a similar short black dress designed by Chanel with the caption: “Here is a Ford signed ‘Chanel.’” In aligning her design with the best-selling automobile, Vogue imparted a sense of reliability and functionality to the deluxe style. This evening dress is one of the earliest extant examples of Chanel’s classic “Little Black Dress,” a variation of which she included in every subsequent collection and a staple of every modern woman’s wardrobe to this day.