Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1913 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Babani (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk crêpe, 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 blue silk crêpe, loosely T-shaped, with gold block printed around the neckline and sleeves. There are red and blue striped Venetian glass beads around neckline.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1913 (made)


Babani (designer)

Materials and Techniques

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

Object history note

There is also an identically printed and styled gown in collection, T.737-1972, in black silk velvet

Descriptive line

Gown of silk crêpe, designed by Babani, Paris, ca. 1913


Silk crêpe; Glass-beads


Block printing


Fashion; Women's clothes

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.