Valerie Steele Picks the Most Iconic Dresses of the Twentieth Century
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The Impossible Collection​

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John Galliano for Dior, 1997​​

Photo: Laziz Hamani
Kitu S-line gown in black silk taffeta with fishtail train. Inspired by the corsets worn by warriors of the Dinka tribe in East Africa and the hourglass silhouette of Belle Epoque, this dress features a Masai-style beaded corset and choker, as well as painted tropical flowers in organza. ​
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Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garcons, 1997​

Photo: Kishin Shinoyama, 1997
White-stretch nylon-urethane dress with down padding.  This controversial 1997 collection was derided by critics,  who claimed that the padded dresses deformed the female body.  ​
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Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, 1972​

Photo: Laziz Hamani
Evening dress in cigaline, embroidered in absinthe green by Vermont. One of Marc Bohan's intricate creations as the head designer of Dior, succeeding Yves Saint Laurent. ​
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Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior, 1959​

Photo: Laziz Hamani
Armide tulle short evening dress with silver sequins. Audrey Hepburn immortalized this dress in a 1959 fashion shoot by Richard Avedon in Paris.
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Christian Dior, 1947​

Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource, New York
Silk jacket, wool skirt. This Bar Suit was the most famous look in Dior's influential 1947 collection.​
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John Galliano for Christian Dior Couture, 2000​​

Photo: Laziz Hamani
Tulle gown and hand-painted pink and ecru silk taffeta. This provocative collection was inspired by the clothing of the French homeless, according to Galliano. "Of course, it's hard to imagine a couture client shelling out $25,000 for a dress just so she can look like a bum," Cathy Horyn noted at the time.
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Cristobal Balenciaga, 1953​

Photo: Jacques Boulay/Courtesy of Belanciaga Archive
Balloon evening dress in silk taffeta. This gathered gown is a classic example of Balenciaga's play on volume.​
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Roberto Capucci, 1956​

Photo: Claudia Primangeli/L.eC. Service
Silk taffeta evening gown with ten skirts. Though he later gravitated to more abstract shapes, this early Capucci design is an example of haute couture as art.
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The Impossible Collection of Fashion​​

Photo: Courtesy of Assouline
Available October 1 from Assouline, $650.


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