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Evening dress and belt

Evening dress and belt

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1806-1808 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hand-sewn silk crêpe, and hand-embroidered with silk chenille

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Georgiana Bordewich (née Pelham Clinton)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This evening dress has the typical high-waisted, fashionable line of 1806-08. It is gathered at the back of the skirt from the high waistline and is very slightly trained to give an elegant silhouette. The bodice, sleeves and hem are decorated with a charming design of trailing nasturtium flowers, leaves and tendrils. The flowers and foliage are worked in naturalistic colours and simple stitches but the embroiderer's choice of chenille to give a soft velvety texture enriches and enhances the three-dimensional qualities of the pattern.

The nasturtium most commonly grown in the early 19th century was a climbing plant with orange flowers. It was popular both for its bright colours and easy cultivation and as a salad plant. It seems a strange choice to decorate an evening gown but the blooms may have carried a message. Many flowers symbolised emotions or carried meanings which are unfamiliar today but were more widely understood in the past. The traditional meaning of the nasturtium was 'patriotism'. This dress was made during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) when Britain was at war with France and it is possible that nasturtiums were chosen to signify the wearer's support for her country and those who were fighting on its behalf.

Physical description

Evening dress made of embroidered ivory silk crêpe and a matching belt embroidered in green chenille.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1806-1808 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Hand-sewn silk crêpe, and hand-embroidered with silk chenille


Length: 127.5 cm nape to hem, Circumference: 58 cm waist, Circumference: 63 cm Bust seam, Length: 104.5 cm Under bust seam to hem (front), :, Length: 112.5 cm Under bust seam to hem

Descriptive line

Evening dress made of embroidered silk crêpe and matching belt embroidered in chenille, Great Britain, 1806-1808

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Johnston, Lucy with Kite, Marion and Persson, Helen. Nineteenth-Century Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 2005. 190-1p., ill. ISBN 185174394.


Silk crepe; Chenille


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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