Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

Browse the Collection


Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: 1977.0458.007

Date: 1949-1950

Maker: Elizabeth Arden

Designer: Antonio Castillo


Pale blue chiffon evening gown with draped bodice and long flowing drape attached at side of skirt; heart-shaped bodice front; pleated chiffon draping criss-crossing breasts; midriff front and bodice back fitted with darts and seams; twisted and rolled chiffon attached under breasts, extending up into a shoulder strap and attached to top of side back edge; bodice lined in taffeta with boning sititched along seams; left side metal zipper closure; skirt attached to bodice at waistline; long skirt gathered in front and fitted in back with darts on side-backs; long chiffon panel attached at right side of skirt seam; skirt hem and three sides of scarf panel are hand rolled; entire dress is lined in gray rayon taffeta.


This dress was made for the donor, Mrs. William Rhinelander Stewart (Jane Newboldt Stewart), by Antonio Del Castillo in 1949 when he worked for Elizabeth Arden in New York City. In the spring of the following year, she wore it to the wedding of Anne Legeandre Armstrong in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Born in Madrid in 1908 to Spanish upper-class parents, Castillo studied architecture at the University of Madrid. In 1936, at the onset of the Spanish Civil War, he left for Paris with plans to embark on a diplomatic career. Instead, he began designing dresses, hats, and jewelry for the fashion houses of Paquin, Piquet, and Chanel. Castillo, together with Balmain, Balenciaga, and Dior, was considered one of the most promising of the generation of Paris designers to emerge after World War II. The beauty products entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden wanted to be the first to bring Paris fashion to New York; in 1945 she persuaded Castillo to work in the haute couture department of her New York salon.

His first collections won rave reviews. Castillo remained with Elizabeth Arden until 1950, when he was invited by Jeanne Lanvin's daughter to design for her mother's firm in Paris. From 1950 to 1962, the House of Lanvin-Castillo was known for elegant clothes, slender lines, long flowing skirts in rich fabrics, and elaborate embroideries. From 1964 to 1969, Castillo headed his own couture house in Paris. In 1971, Antonio Castillo won the Academy Award in costume design for the film Nicholas and Alexandra.

Credit: Gift of Janet Newboldt Stewart