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Given by Jennifer Aylmer Jones MBE
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Not all theatre costumes are designed by a specialist theatrical designer or made by specialist costume makers. Sometimes a well-known fashion designer supplies dresses for the stars of a contemporary production; in the 19th century, long before the fashion shows and cat-walk, this was a good way of advertising and ensuring that their creations were seen by a wide audience. The practice continued into the 20th century, and this example was supplied by the great French couturier Paquin for the actress Cecily Byrne as Hetty Temple in Dorothy Massingham's play Not in Our Stars in 1924.
This dress would have been selected from Paquin's current fashion portfolio, not 'designed' specifically for the play and the particular character. It is a deceptively plain 1920s dress, gathered on the hips, its simplicity offset by the complex decorative motifs through which the belt passes and with which it is trimmed. Byrne was the only member of the cast dressed by Paquin; the other costumes were designed by Elspeth Phelps.
Costume probably for Hetty Temple worn by Cecily Byrne. 1920s straight wrap over long dress of old gold velvet with long sleeves and deep V neck. The sleeves and neck are edged with cream lace. The dress is gathered on the side hips. Attached at the back at low waist is a long belt, which passes across the left side of the dress, where it passes through a decorative motif, and hangs down the left front of the dress finishing in a decorative motif with a long fringe. The under part of the wrap over skirt is of old gold silk? The dress is unlined.
Object history note
Costume probably for Hetty Temple worn by Cecily Byrne in Dorothy Massingham's play 'Not In Our Stars' performed at Wyndham's Theatre, London, 4th February 1924. The play was adapted from the novel by Michael Maurice. The director and designer of the production are not credited. The costumes for Cecily Byrne were by Paquin, and the other costumes were by Elspeth Phelps.
Straight wrap over long 1920s dress of old gold velvet with long sleeves and deep V neck probably for Hetty Temple worn by Cecily Byrne in 'Not In Our Stars', Wyndham's Theatre, 1924
Silk (textile); Velvet; Lace; Fringe