When there was talk of what’s new in fashion, magazine journals in the 1930’s often heaped the praises of elite French couturiers such as Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli, Vionnet, etc. One American designer who also stood out as the cream of the crop in fashion was the House of (Elizabeth) Hawes. Her designs were practical first and foremost, but wittingly stylish and smart.
A Look Back….
In 1937 the infamous American Socialite Wallace Simpson (who became the Duchess of Windsor) was photographed by Cecil Beaton wearing the collaborative design of Schiaparelli and Dali known as “The Lobster Dress”. The sexual connotations of the gown did not help the public’s negative view of her; a divorced (American) woman that wooed King Edward VIII from the throne when Britain was on the brink of war naturally sparked a media frenzy and the rest is history.
The two piece set was made in 1939 by the House of Hawes and incorporates bold red lobsters. The lounging robe or dress with red front ties is made of fine raw silk and the lobsters are painted on. The palazzo style red pant complete the ensemble. The couture details, pleating and construction are absolutely astounding. Pure perfection. And like Schiaparelli, Hawes wittingly incorporates color metal zippers (one red and the other beige) in this design. The wit and practicality of her designs can be see in this tribute to the Lobster Dress.
We owned this rare set for a few years having purchased it at auction on eBay. We suspected that it was some undocumented Schiaparelli creation. We knew we had acquired a real gem and after months of research, exploring extensive designer works of Schiaparelli, we turned to documented lobster designs of the 1930’s and discovered the Schiaparelli-Hawes connection. The ebay seller had inherited the lobster set from a relative who had traveled the world during her lifetime. The two piece couture set would have been custom made for this client. See the Collectibility Rating below. ♦
Read more about the Schiaparelli Lobster Dress here. http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/65327.html
Hawes lounging pajamas using horses as inspiration are housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Collectibility Rating Chart
- Age Rating
Created in 1939
- Condition Rating
Sold nearly pristine; Dusting or gentle darkening of lounging coat toward and at hem noted.
- History Rating
Elizabeth Hawes authenticated. Piece was never labeled. Custom designed for client.
- Workmanship Rating
Haute couture construction with unconventional zippers
for Ornate Features
Discovered on eBay: 2008-2009
This gown was sold to a major collector in 2015
Price Realized Following Research: $4080