You can't really see the detail on this dinner dress in this image, so click on it to be taken to the Met Costume Institute page so that you can enlarge to your heart's content. Or at least enough to see the buttons holding the drape along the hip.
I love this dress, I really do, although it is a full-day's drive past anything I would (or could) ever realistically wear. This is clothing as art, which is beautiful (as opposed to art clothing, which, with a few–very few– is horrific). In fact, I am so convinced that this dress is art-with-a-capital-A that I have a very, very large poster from the Met exhibit hanging in my apartment, and I am otherwise philosophically opposed to museum-exhibit-ad posters. But I will gladly put up with a little extraneous typography to be able to look at this dress every day.
I do wish, however, that I could see this on a live model. What happens to those side drapes when you stand up straight? Do they hang like panniers? Or stick out straight behind like tailfins? I suppose wearing something like this makes you incapable, physically and spiritually, of standing up straight. A dress like this compels one to slounge, that sophisticated combination of slouching and lounging. I wonder how many he sold of this model, and I wonder who wore it, and where, and I wonder if anyone tried to get him to make it in something shockingly vulgar, like hot.jpgnk duchesse satin. Like all great art, this dress asks more questions than it answers, and one can return to it again and again and always find something new.