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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1909-1910 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered lawn, trimmed with embroidered net, lined with cotton, boned

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This stylish day dress was worn by Miss Heather Firbank (1888-1954). She was the daughter of the affluent Member of Parliament Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank. Miss Firbank was young, 'had beauty, and she adorned it with exquisite clothes of a heather colour to complement her name', according to Miriam J. Benkovitz in Ronald Firbank: A Biography (1970).

Heather Firbank bought her expensive clothes bought from leading couturier houses, such as Lucile, Redfern and Mascotte. In 1921 her wardrobe was packed into trunks and put into storage, where it remained for the next 35 years. In 1960 the Museum acquired well over 100 items from her wardrobe, which included dresses, costumes and a wide variety of accessories.

This collection forms an invaluable record of a stylish and wealthy woman's taste over a period of some 15 years, from about 1905 to 1920. In 1960 the bulk of the collection, supplemented by Ronald Firbank's manuscripts, bills and family photographs, was shown at the Museum. The exhibition was called 'Lady of Fashion: Heather Firbank and what she wore between 1908 and 1921'.

Physical description

Linen day dress consisting of a bodice and skirt. With embroidered lawn and trimmed with bands of embroidered net. The bodice is bias-cut in one piece and continuously seamed under the arms and down the sides. The Magyar-type sleeves have open vents secured by braid and with domed and crochet-covered buttons, and a similar pair of vents decorate the bodice front An inner front panel and sleeves of lawn with open-work embroidery show through the vents. A sturdy cotton bodice lining has two bones at the centre back edges where it fastens with hooks and eyes. The dress fastens over this again with hooks and eyes. The skirt (cut on the straight grain) is long and pleated into the waist. A divided overskirt of four long straight panels is linked at the lower front and back by bands of boldly patterned embroidered net. The top has a stitched and pleated belt that conceals the waist seam and fastens at the back with hooks and eyes.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1909-1910 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered lawn, trimmed with embroidered net, lined with cotton, boned


Circumference: 875 mm, Circumference: 661 mm, Width: 405 mm, Length: 1405 mm, Length: 1645 mm

Object history note

The cut of this demure unlabelled dress is especially interesting.

Descriptive line

Linen day dress with embroidered lawn and trimmed with embroidered net, Great Britain, 1909-1910


Fashion; Day wear; Women's clothes; Embroidery; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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