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Evening dress

Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    New York (retailed)
    Paris (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1894 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Stern Brothers (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk velvet with glass beads and sequins, bead-embroidered net, lined with silk, tulle, boned

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Major and Mrs Broughton

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This sumptuous evening dress has huge puffed sleeves which were highly fashionable during the mid 1890s. One of the advantages of these large sleeves was to make the waist look small by comparison. The shoulder width was counterbalanced by the size of the skirt, which widened at the hem - an effect that was achieved by gores, shaped panels, box pleats in the back of the skirt and stiff interlining.

The skirt and bodice is embroidered in beads with exquisite butterfly and ribbon motifs. Butterflies were popular in 1894. The Queen in April illustrated an example by the couturier Felix.

The label 'Stern Bros., West 23rd , New York' is stitched to the waistband. Stern Bros., one of the largest New York department stores of the time, imported models of Parisian fashions for copying.

Physical description

Dress consisting of a bodice and skirt of blue silk velvet. It is trimmed with glass beads and sequin embroidery and bead-embroidered net with a design of butterflies. It is lined with black silk.

Place of Origin

New York (retailed)
Paris (possibly, made)


1894 (made)


Stern Brothers (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk velvet with glass beads and sequins, bead-embroidered net, lined with silk, tulle, boned

Object history note

The dress has the quality and design of a couture model, although not the label.

This dress was owned by Cara Broughton, née Cara Leland Huttleston Rogers (1867-1939), who married Urban Hanlon Broughton (1857-1929) in 1895. As Urban H. Broughton died before he could be elevated to a peerage, their eldest son Urban H.R. Broughton (1896-1966) became 1st Baron Fairhaven of Lode on 20 March 1929, while Cara became 1st Lady Fairhaven. This barony became extinct on Urban H.R.Broughton's death, but a later barony, Baron Fairhaven of Anglesey Abbey, co. Cambridge, was granted to him in 1961, with a remainder to his brother, Henry (1900-1973), to enable this title to continue after his death without male heirs.

This forms part of a large donation of late 19th and early 20th century garments and accessories (with a few historical textiles) donated to the Museum in 1972 by Cara's grandson and Henry's son, Major Ailwyn Broughton and his wife, a year before Ailwyn became Lord Fairhaven following his father's death.

Some of the nineteenth century garments are thought to have been worn by Cara's sister, Anne (1865-1924). If this dress was worn by Cara, she probably chose a black dress as she was a young widow. She married Bradford Ferris Duff on November 17 1890 but sadly, he died the following year of a lung ailment. By 1894, it would have been permissible for the young widow to gradually re-enter social life and attend evening engagements. This extremely fashionable black velvet gown with black bead embroidery would have been considered an appropriate half-mourning evening dress for a smart young widow. It could well have been one of the first smart evening gowns Cara had after her widowhood, which suggests a reason why she might have chosen to preserve this particular dress. (DMC)

Correction/addendum, also by Daniel Milford-Cottam, March 4 2013:

A label attached below the Stern Brothers tag on this dress is marked "A.P. Rogers 1894". Abigail ("Abbie") Palmer Rogers (1841-1894) was the mother of Cara. She died suddenly on 21 May 1894 following an operation, which would make this one of the last evening dresses she owned. It was probably preserved by her family in her memory, which is why it has survived in such excellent condition.

Descriptive line

Dress consisting of a bodice and skirt of embroidered silk velvet, possibly made in Paris, retailed by Stern Brothers, New York, 1894

Production Note

Possibly made in emulation of a Paris couture design or, given its quality and design, could be an imported Paris model gown sold by the Stern Brothers department store.


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


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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