Lesson Plan: The Black Dress Part 1

This lesson plan was researched and written by Mandy Prasatik, a Fall 2021 University of Texas at Tyler Intern at the Tyler Museum of Art. The lesson plan was edited by Rachel Anthony, the Tyler Museum of Art Education Manager.

This lesson plan discusses the art history surrounding two dresses exhibited in The Black Dress: Selections from the Texas Fashion Collection and Works by Nancy Lamb exhibit.

The exhibition is organized by the Tyler Museum of Art in partnership with the Texas Fashion Collection of the University of North Texas College. It focuses on the concept of the ‘black dress’, popularized by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in the 1920’s. The various dresses and accessories are placed in context with Nancy Lamb’s Social Spaces paintings.


If you use or reference this lesson plan, please leave a comment with your feedback. The lesson plan can be downloaded in the link below.


UNT Texas Fashion Collection’s Pauline Trigère, Dinner Dress: Discussion

Figure 1: Pauline Trigère, Dinner Dress, 1972, Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas College of Visual Arts & Design.


Pauline Trigère was born in Paris in 1912. Her father was a tailor and her mother was a dress-maker[1], she was raised in the craft of sewing and could work a sewing machine by the age of 10.[2] In 1937, Trigère immigrated to the United States, specifically to New York with her then husband and two sons.[3] Her recognition in the United States fashion industry grew from her ability and desire to hand drape fabrics on models, which created well-fitted clothing.[4] She spent seventy years creating fashion items and contributing to American fashion with an array of high-end clients that she styled. These clients included celebrities and even royalty, such as the Duchess of Windsor.[5] She died at the age of 93, leaving behind a legacy of mentorship, fashion and garment ingenuity. She placed her mark on American fashion and her contribution to the evolvement of the “little black dress”.[6]

This dinner dress features all-black chiffon with a draping cape that is attached at the collar and front of the shoulders.[7] The back of the dress has a swooping and deep U-shaped cutout, which the sheer cape covers. The dress drapes the mannequin eloquently while the sheer and maribou feathered cape gives the dress a lightweight and airy appearance.


Questions for All Levels:

What is your favorite feature about the dress?

Do the feathers give an illusion of weightlessness, if so how?


Works Cited

Council of Fashion Designers of America. “In Memoriam: Pauline Trigère.” Accessed November 10, 2021. https://cfda.com/members/profile/pauline-trigere.

The Washington Post. “Award-Winning Designer Pauline Trigère, 93, dies.” Accessed November 10, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2002/02/15/award-winning-designer-pauline-trigere-93-dies/5e452645-d7f8-4e60-bb08-1474b26eb5f3/.

University of North Texas. “Dinner Dress.” UNT Digital Library. Accessed November 11, 2021. https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1727934/?q=pauline%20trigere.


[1] The Washington Post, “Award-Winning Designer Pauline Trigère, 93, dies,” Accessed November 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2002/02/15/award-winning-designer-pauline-trigere-93-dies/5e452645-d7f8-4e60-bb08-1474b26eb5f3/.

[2] Council of Fashion Designers of America, “In Memoriam: Pauline Trigère,” Accessed November 10, 2021, https://cfda.com/members/profile/pauline-trigere.

[3] The Washington Post, “Award-Winning Designer Pauline Trigère, 93, dies,” Accessed November 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/2002/02/15/award-winning-designer-pauline-trigere-93-dies/5e452645-d7f8-4e60-bb08-1474b26eb5f3/.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Council of Fashion Designers of America, “In Memoriam: Pauline Trigère,” Accessed November 10, 2021, https://cfda.com/members/profile/pauline-trigere.

[6] Ibid.

[7] University of North Texas, “Dinner Dress,” UNT Digital Library, Accessed November 11, 2021, https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1727934/?q=pauline%20trigere.


UNT Texas Fashion Collection’s Madame Alix Grès, Dress of Black Crepe: Discussion

Figure 2: Madame Alix Grès, Dress of Black Crepe, late 1930s, black dress crepe, Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas College of Visual Arts & Design.


Madame Alix Grès, birthname Germaine Emilie Krebs, was born in Paris, France on November 30, 1903, to bourgeois Catholic parents.[1] Her parents were unsupportive in her desire to become either a professional dancer or a sculptor. With this discouragement, she transitioned to clothing and apprenticed for three months at the couture house of Premet around 1933. It was here she learned the basics of dressmaking and also changed her first name to Alix.[2] Her previous desire to be a sculptor is not lost upon her transition to clothing, she became known as the great “sculptress” of haute couture.[3]. Her clothing design mimics the Greco-Roman sculpture precedent of clothing hanging from the body. This accentuates the form and allows both the clothing and the figure to be seen as art.


Questions for All Levels:

What elements of the dress look sculptural?

How does the belt help the dresses’ design?


Works Cited

Steele, Valerie. The Berg Companion to Fashion. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.

University of North Texas. “Dinner Dress.” UNT Digital Library. Accessed November 11, 2021. https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1727934/?q=pauline%20trigere.


[1] Steele, Valerie. The Berg Companion to Fashion. (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015), 378.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 379.


Texas Elementary School TEKS

Kindergarten, First grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade


Kindergarten:

§117.102.b.1.A: gather information from subjects in the environment using the senses;

§117.102.b.3.C: identify the uses of art in everyday life;


First Grade:

§117.105.b.1.A: identify similarities, differences, and variations among subjects in the environment using the senses;

§117.105.b.3.C: discuss the use of art in everyday life;


Second Grade:

§117.108.b.1.A: compare and contrast variations in objects and subjects from the environment using the senses;

§117.108.b.3.C: analyze how art affects everyday life and is connected to jobs in art and design;


Third Grade:

§117.111.b.1.A: explore ideas from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;

§117.111.b.3.C: connect art to career opportunities for positions such as architects, animators, cartoonists, engineers, fashion designers, film makers, graphic artists, illustrators, interior designers, photographers, and web designers;


Fourth Grade:

§117.114.b.1.A: explore and communicate ideas drawn from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;

§117.114.b.3.C: connect art to career opportunities for positions such as architects, animators, cartoonists, engineers, fashion designers, film makers, graphic artists, illustrators, interior designers, photographers, and web designers;


Fifth Grade:

§117.117.b.1.A: develop and communicate ideas drawn from life experiences about self, peers, family, school, or community and from the imagination as sources for original works of art;

§117.117.b.3.C: connect art to career opportunities for positions such as architects, animators, cartoonists, engineers, fashion designers, film makers, graphic artists, illustrators, interior designers, photographers, and web designers;


Texas Middle School TEKS

Art 1, Art 2, and Art 3


Art 1:

§117.202.c.1.A: identify and illustrate concepts from direct observation, original sources, personal experiences, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;

§117.202.c.3.C: explain the relationships that exist between societies and their art and architecture;


Art 2:

§117.203.b.1.A: identify and illustrate ideas from direct observation, original sources, imagination, personal experiences, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;

§117.203.b.3.C: compare and contrast relationships that exist between a society’s art and its music, literature, and architecture;


Art 3:

§117.203.b.1.A: identify and illustrate concepts from direct observation, original sources, imagination, personal experience, and communities such as family, school, cultural, local, regional, national, and international;

§117.203.b.3.C: evaluate the relationships that exist among a society’s art, music, theatre, and dance;


Texas High School TEKS

Art Level I, Art Level II, Art Level III, and Level IV


Level I:

§117.302.c.1.A: consider concepts and ideas from direct observation, original sources, experiences, and imagination for original artwork;

§117.302.c.3.A: compare and contrast historical and contemporary styles while identifying general themes and trends;


Level II:

§117.303.c.1.A: use visual comparisons to illustrate concepts and ideas from direct observation, original sources, experiences, narration, and imagination for original artworks;

§117.303.c.3.A: examine selected historical periods or styles of art to identify general themes and trends;


Level III:

§117.304.c.1.A: analyze visual characteristics of sources to illustrate concepts, demonstrate flexibility in solving problems, create multiple solutions, and think imaginatively;

§117.304.c.3.A: research selected historical periods, artists, general themes, trends, and styles of art;


Level IV:

§117.305.c.1.A: consider concepts and themes for personal artwork that integrate an extensive range of visual observations, experiences, and imagination;

§117.305.c.3.A: research and report on selected historical periods, artists, general themes, trends, and styles of art;


You can see these artworks in-person at the Tyler Museum of Art’s current exhibition: The Black Dress: Selections from the Texas Fashion Collection and Works by Nancy Lamb.

The exhibition is open until January 30, 2022. Visit the exhibition page by clicking on the image below.

For more educational resources created by the Tyler Museum of Art, visit our YouTube page by clicking on the YouTube button or clicking the link below.

If you use or references this lesson plan, please leave a comment with your feedback.

Thank you for visiting the Tyler Museum of Art’s Education Blog!

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