Keyhole Cut Out Bra & Lace Half Slip By Christian Dior

Keyhole Cut Out Bra & Lace Half Slip By Christian Dior, c. 1957, Great Britain. The Underpinnings Museum. Photography by Tigz Rice.

Date: 1957

Origin: Designed in Paris, made in England by R. & W.H. Symington

Fabric: Nylon & machine lace

Brand: Christian Dior


A lace and nylon bra with a centre keyhole cutout and velvet trims, and coordinating pull-on half slip, which originally would have featured detachable garter straps that have now sadly been lost. These designs were part of the first licensed lingerie range by Christian Dior.

The ready-to-wear lingerie collections of the late 1950s saw signature design elements such as luxurious laces, lattices of velvet ribbon and velvet linings.  Colourways were either white with sugar pink trimming or plain black.  The collections were extremely high end: the combination of difficult construction and design, French-sourced materials and limited market meant that stock was limited and prices were high. Nevertheless, the collection was a great success. A corselet from the collections was advertised in 1959 as costing £7.19s.6d, approximately £170 in 2016.

Christian Dior was a trailblazer of post-World-War-Two fashion, launching his ‘New Look’ collection in 1947. The previous war years took a very economical approach to fashion, with many restrictions on clothing. Initially the ‘New Look’ was criticised, as it centred around the image of a corseted figure with sloping shoulders, a small waist and long, voluminous skirts. It required specialist foundation garments to achieve, as well as a great deal of fabric at a time of economic shortages. The collection ended up defining an entire era of fashion, with Dior emphasising the importance of foundation-wear to achieve the appropriate silhouette for outerwear.

The license for ready-to-wear Christian Dior lingerie was won by the R. & W.H. Symington factory in 1957. The range’s designs were outlined in Paris, then refined and produced in the Leicestershire-based factory. The range was very exclusive and sold in high-end department stores such as Harrods and Selfridges. The collection was launched in September 1957 at the London-based Savoy hotel; although Christian Dior himself was meant to attend the event, he passed away within the month.


From the collection of Karolina Laskowska

Museum number: KL-2022-034


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