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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1913 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Babani (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk velvet, block printed with gold pigment, trimmed with glass beads

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Fr. Sebastian Bullough

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This gown belonged to the famous Italian actress Eleonora Duse (1858-1924), noted for her association with the poet and playwright Gabriele d'Annunzio. Duse was a great friend of the designer Mariano Fortuny (1871-1949) and was known for the fact that she used very little make-up in an age where acting demanded dramatic costumes and disguise. Duse was the first woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine in July 1923.

The dress was purchased from Vitaldi Babani, a designer-importer who launched his business in 1895. His shop 'Babani' was situated at 98 Boulevard Haussman. Along with the designer Paul Poiret, Babani was licensed to sell Fortuny designs in Paris. In addition to retailing Fortuny designs, Babani sold Liberty textiles and produced fabrics and garments of his own design that bore the influence of these designers.

Physical description

Gown of black silk velvet, loosely T-shaped, with a gold pattern block printed around the neckline and sleeves. It also has red and white striped Venetian glass beads around the neckline.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1913 (made)


Babani (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk velvet, block printed with gold pigment, trimmed with glass beads

Object history note

There is also an identically printed and styled gown in collection, T.735-1972, in lightweight silk crepe

Descriptive line

Gown of block printed silk velvet, designed by Babani, Paris, ca. 1913


Silk velvet; Glass-beads


Block printing


Fashion; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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