This dress is iconic in that it was the debutante presentation dress in 1951.
So what is the Debutante Ball?
The Debutante Ball marked the start of the British Social Season. It was the Presentation of Debutantes to the sovereign at the court. Young women from upper class and aristocratic families were presented by women who themselves had been presented in the past. It was a way for young girls to meet suitable bachelors in hope of finding a suitable husband from a similar social background. Application has to be submitted and if they are accepted, they would be sent a royal summons from the Lord Chamberlain to attend the Presentation on a certain day. The event involved formalities such as the presentation and curtsy to the sovereign, dances etc. The debs were required to be presented in a court dress which included white evening dress and white gloves. After the presentation, the social season commences and they would attend social events such as afternoon tea parties, polo matches, races at the royal Ascot and balls, and their coming out parties.
In the 50’s, the social structure was undergoing a shift in post-war Britain. The Presentation and the Debutante Ball began to lose royal support and it officially ended in 1958.
Below is an interesting video 1958 presentation versailles.
Pathé (2015) Debs’ Ball, Britishpathe.com. Available at: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/debs-ball (Accessed: 2 December 2015).
Edwardian Promenade, (2007) The Court Presentation. Available at: http://www.edwardianpromenade.com/etiquette/the-court-presentation/ (Accessed: 2 December 2015).
MacCarthy, F. (2006) Last curtsey. London: Faber.