Gown

1790s (weaving), 1795 - 1800 (sewing)
Gown thumbnail 1
Gown thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This gown shows how the traditional construction techniques of 18th-century dressmaking adapted to the high-waisted styles that became popular in the late 1790s. Pleating remained a convenient method of fitting a gown to the individual wearer and retaining fullness at the back. Here the silk is arranged in a series of narrow pleats on either side of the centre back. This produced the desired Neo-classical style: a closely fitting upper bodice with a full, slightly trained skirt. The pale colour of the silk with small abstract motifs also demonstrates the Neo-classical influence.

In keeping with earlier 18th-century styles, the gown is open at the front, to be worn over a petticoat. The cut of the bodice, however, conforms to the new high-waisted style, gathered at the waist with a drawstring neckline. A lining in the form of an inner linen bodice is another legacy of earlier construction techniques.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk and linen, hand woven and hand sewn, whalebone; hand-woven brocade, hand-sewn
Brief Description
A woman's gown, 1795-1800, British; Figured cream silk satin, brocaded with floral sprigs, 1790s, British
Physical Description
A woman's gown of figured cream silk satin, brocaded with floral sprigs. The gown is open at the front with a high waist and shaped, elbow length sleeves with 3 deep horizontal pleats. It is made of 5 widths of silk, gathered in fine pleats in groups of 3 at the front and sides, with 9 fan-shaped pleats on either side of the centre back seam. The bodice fronts are gathered at the bottom and have a hem casing with a silk ribbon drawstring at the neckline. They extend over the shoulder and join the back in a diagonal seam. The bodice and sleeves are lined with linen. The bodice front linings are separate from the bodice fronts, with a hem casing and drawstring at the neckline. The centre back seam is boned on either side.



The coarse linen stitched around the neckline and lower edge of bodice fronts was added later, probably to protect the fraying silk underneath.
Dimensions
  • Shoulder to hem at centre back length: 186.0cm (approx)
  • Bust of linen lining, under armholes circumference: 97.0cm (approx)
  • Silk, selvedge to selvedge width: 48.0cm
Style
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Given by Hermoine Field
Summary
This gown shows how the traditional construction techniques of 18th-century dressmaking adapted to the high-waisted styles that became popular in the late 1790s. Pleating remained a convenient method of fitting a gown to the individual wearer and retaining fullness at the back. Here the silk is arranged in a series of narrow pleats on either side of the centre back. This produced the desired Neo-classical style: a closely fitting upper bodice with a full, slightly trained skirt. The pale colour of the silk with small abstract motifs also demonstrates the Neo-classical influence.



In keeping with earlier 18th-century styles, the gown is open at the front, to be worn over a petticoat. The cut of the bodice, however, conforms to the new high-waisted style, gathered at the waist with a drawstring neckline. A lining in the form of an inner linen bodice is another legacy of earlier construction techniques.
Bibliographic Reference
Hart, Avril and Susan North, Historical Fashion in Detail: The 17th and 18th Centuries, London: V&A Publications, 1998, p.58
Collection
Accession Number
T.116-1938

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record createdAugust 15, 2006
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