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Woman's Evening Dress: Bodice and Skirt

Designed by Mrs. Dunstan, American, active 1891 - 1913

Geography:
Made in New York, United States, North and Central America

Date:
1907

Medium:
Ivory silk satin with silk tulle, lace, tulle appliqué, rhinestones, and sequins; floss silk, silk chenille, and metallic thread embroidery

Dimensions:
Center Back Length ((a) bodice): 9 inches (22.9 cm) Center Front Length ((a) bodice): 10 inches (25.4 cm) Waist ((a) bodice): 24 inches (61 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1967-16-5a,b

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Priscilla de Mauduit, 1967

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Additional information:
  • PublicationBest Dressed: Fashion from the Birth of Couture to Today

    This majestic gown by Mrs. Dunstan, one of New York's many fine dressmakers at the turn of the century, was made to suit the ideal woman of the period: mature and self-assured, with a rounded figure and a commanding bosom thrust forward. Married women were especially favored by fashion at the time, since the most elaborate gowns were reserved for them. As Mrs. Frank Learned noted in The Etiquette of New York To-day (1906), at dinners, balls, and evening parties, and in their boxes at the opera, young women were deemed appropriately dressed only in modest necklines and "no jewelled ornaments...except, perhaps, a string of pearls"; matrons, however, in low-necked gowns, wore "handsome satins, velvets, crêpes or spangled nets"--as well as their finest jewels. Two contrasting types of decoration on this ivory satin creation exemplify the Edwardian love of intricate--and expensive--surface treatment, which required vast amounts of delicate handwork. The neckline and the tulle at the bottom of the skirt are embellished with organic, Art Nouveau decoration embroidered in gilt threads lavishly bedecked with rhinestones, while geometric motifs fan out from the slim waist; layers of silk tulle are applied and outlined in different types of embroidery, then further accented with metallic thread, rhinestones, and sequins in graduated sizes. Dilys E. Blum and H. Kristina Haugland, from Best Dressed: Fashion from the Birth of Couture to Today (1997) pp. 16-17.