In 1958, Vivien Leigh attended a charity event for the Boys and Girls Exhibition. At the National Spastics Society’s stand, Vivien recruited youngsters for The Whistlers, a new club for children with Cerebral Palsy. The club’s motto was “whistle for the kids who can’t.”
From the National Spastics Society’s webpage: In 1952, three parents of children with cerebral palsy set up The Spastics Society because no one would educate their children. The organisation grew and changed to become a household name. But attitudes to disabled people changed as well. The word ‘spastic’ became a term of abuse. Suddenly, The Spastics Society’s name was holding it back. We wanted to say something positive about disability. In 1994, The Spastics Society became Scope. To read more about this organization, please click here.
For the occasion, Vivien topped her curls with a white boater hat, traditionally made from straw, and which featured a dark band and veil. The outfit she chose to wear for this event was a blue, trapeze-line dress by Dior. A trapeze-line dress is one which is fitted at the shoulders, then progressively flares out as it travels down the female form. Trapeze-line dresses were the new rage from Paris, as seen in the 1958 spring collection from the House of Dior.
A Dior trapeze-line dress from the spring 1958 collection.
These dresses were designed by 21 year-old Yves Saint Laurent, who had recently taken over the helm at Dior. Just a few months before his passing, Christian Dior had personally chosen Saint Laurent to succeed him after his death. The trapeze-line dresses were a continuation of Dior’s 1955 A-line collection.
Yves Saint Laurent and an assistant make a few adjustments on one of his trapeze-line dresses, being modeled by Svetlana Lloyd. According to Svetlana, Yves was unbelievably shy.
In between whistling and signing autographs (about 300 in thirty minutes), the forty-four year old Vivien bragged that she would soon be a grandmother. My daughter Suzanne is having a baby in December. I’m fixed up in films and plays until mid-1960– not bad going for a grandmother. Not bad at all!