Evening Dress thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Evening Dress

ca. 1810 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Sprigs, hand-embroidered in chain stitch with gilt metal thread and embellished with spangles (sequins), decorate this delicate evening dress. It is made of machine-made black silk bobbin net and would have been worn over a silk underdress of a lighter colour. Elaborate and delicate dresses like this one were worn for special occasions such as balls.

Net dresses were very fashionable and their popularity was spurred by new inventions. The development of machine-made net in the late 18th and early 19th centuries meant that gauzy lace effects were increasingly affordable either as trimmings or garments. The bobbin-net machine was patented by the Englishman John Heathcoat in 1808 and produced a superior net identical to the twist-net grounds of hand-made bobbin lace. It was so successful that women in the highest ranks of society, including the Emperor Napoleon's first wife, Josephine, wore machine-net dresses. Initially, however, all machine nets were plain and had to be embroidered by hand.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Machine-made silk bobbin net, hand-embroidered with silver gilt braid and spangles
Brief Description
Evening dress, machine-made black silk bobbin net, hand-embroidered with silver-gilt spangles and braid.
Physical Description
Ankle-length evening dress with a high waist and short puff sleeves made of machine-made black silk bobbin net, hand-embroidered with silver-gilt motifs in chain stitch and spangles. The seams and edges are finished with gilt metail braid.
Dimensions
  • Nape to hem length: 93.5cm
  • Width: 34.5cm (Note: across the back)
  • Depth: 15.5cm (Note: depth of bodice from neck to waistband )
Credit line
Given by Messrs Harrods Ltd.
Summary
Sprigs, hand-embroidered in chain stitch with gilt metal thread and embellished with spangles (sequins), decorate this delicate evening dress. It is made of machine-made black silk bobbin net and would have been worn over a silk underdress of a lighter colour. Elaborate and delicate dresses like this one were worn for special occasions such as balls.



Net dresses were very fashionable and their popularity was spurred by new inventions. The development of machine-made net in the late 18th and early 19th centuries meant that gauzy lace effects were increasingly affordable either as trimmings or garments. The bobbin-net machine was patented by the Englishman John Heathcoat in 1808 and produced a superior net identical to the twist-net grounds of hand-made bobbin lace. It was so successful that women in the highest ranks of society, including the Emperor Napoleon's first wife, Josephine, wore machine-net dresses. Initially, however, all machine nets were plain and had to be embroidered by hand.
Bibliographic Reference
Johnston, Lucy with Kite, Marion and Persson, Helen. Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 2005. 146-7p., ill. ISBN 185174394.
Collection
Accession Number
T.795-1913

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdDecember 19, 2007
Record URL