Evening dress

Former Attribution: Formerly attributed to House of Balenciaga (French, founded 1937)

Designer: Richard Tam (American, 1941–1990)

Date: 1968

Culture: American

Medium: silk, linen, feathers

Credit Line: Gift of Louise Rorimer Dushkin, 1980

Accession Number: 1980.338.6


Taking its cue from the dancing dress, this dress was an obvious choice for cocktails, with its lighthearted feather skirt and simple, pared-down construction. By the late 1950s, the etiquette barring bare arms before eight o'clock in the evening was no longer adhered to, allowing a variety of sleeveless and even slightly décolleté pieces to infiltrate the cocktail venue. Undoubtedly worn with a pair of elbow-length gloves and a cocktail hat, this dress falls to the appropriate just-below-the-knee length in front, but has a more formal train. Silk gazar, a mat high-twist textile, was a wonderful execution for the cocktail hour. Gazar's texture and drape were lavish, but certainly did not exhibit the ostentation of evening wear.