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Ball gown

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1885 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moiré silk overlaid and trimmed with machine lace, and lined with silk, cotton and whalebone

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Hon. Mrs Tyser, in memory of the Dowager Lady Remnant

  • Museum number:

    T.429&A-1990

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

May Littledale (née Primrose) wore this romantic ball gown shortly after her marriage to Henry Littledale in 1885. Unfortunately she did not have long to enjoy it as she died the following year.

May had excellent taste in dress and the gown is at the height of fashion for its time. The heavily boned bodice is laced behind like a corset and extends into a deep point, which gracefully curves over the back of the skirt. This emphasises the tiny waist and bustled (padded at the rear) silhouette that were hallmarks of stylish dress in the mid-1880s. The bodice is also cut fairly high on the hips to allow for the folds of moiré silk draped across the front and sides of the dress to complement the huge bow.

During this period drapery was often composed of separate pieces mounted onto the foundation skirt rather than being formed by the cut of the skirt. Here, a small cushion sewn into the back of the waist and a stiffened lining pulled into shape by tapes help the skirt project behind while remaining flat in front.

Physical description

Floor-length ball gown consisting of a bodice and skirt in moiré silk overlaid and trimmed with machine lace.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, made)

Date

ca. 1885 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Moiré silk overlaid and trimmed with machine lace, and lined with silk, cotton and whalebone

Object history note

Registered File number 1990/1787.

Descriptive line

Ball gown consisting of a bodice and skirt in moiré silk with machine lace, probably made in Great Britain, ca. 1885

Materials

Silk (textile); Cotton (textile); Baleen

Techniques

Machine-made lace making; Lined; Boned

Categories

Fashion; Women's clothes; Lace; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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