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The evening dress came into vogue in Paris during the mid-19th century, when various forms of nighttime entertainment became popular among the French aristocracy. Such dresses assumed an important role in defining its wearer, giving the woman a way to express her wealth, personality and identity.

This exhibition showcases evening wear designed in the 150 years following 1852, the beginning of the Second French Empire, tracing the history of elaborate gowns, and their diversification as haute couture (custom-made “high fashion” clothing) came into demand.

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