Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E , Case 96, Shelf E, Box 51

Fashion Design

1916 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Design for a woman's grey day dress with a full ankle-length skirt and black satin dickey front. Below the figure is a decorative band showing birds on branches.
1 of a set of 276 designs mounted in 3 volumes for costumes worn on the stage by actresses in London productions.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Pen and ink and watercolour
Brief description
Val St. Cyr for Madame Handley-Seymour. Grey day dress with full skirt and black dickey front. Fashion design, 1916.
Mixed in with, and including, 276 costume designs for London productions, 1912-20, mounted in three volumes (vols. 49,50,51)
(NB: Some fashion designs mixed in with this volume (E.4938 to 5105))
Physical description
Design for a woman's grey day dress with a full ankle-length skirt and black satin dickey front. Below the figure is a decorative band showing birds on branches.
1 of a set of 276 designs mounted in 3 volumes for costumes worn on the stage by actresses in London productions.
Dimensions
  • Height: 49cm
  • Width: 31cm
Credit line
Given by Mrs. Joyce Whitehouse
Object history
Elizabeth Handley Seymour, née Elizabeth Fielding, (1867-1948) was a court-dressmaker whose atelier was based at 47 New Bond Street. She designed gowns for the Court and Society during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, most famously the wedding dress for the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) and later, her Coronation dress. These volumes of fashion designs were donated by Elizabeth's daughter, Mrs. Joyce Whitehouse in 1958.

These sketches would have been shown to prospective clients and also sent out to customers for approval, with a charge made upon the customer if the sketches were not returned within a few days' time.

When Elizabeth died in 1948 she had been married for 47 years to Major James Burke Handley-Seymour, so she must have been born c.1881 and married 1901. There is an Elizabeth Fielding identifying herself as a court dressmaker in the 1901 census (RG 13/83 f15 p19), aged 28,which would suggest a credible birth date of 1873 if it is the same Elizabeth Fielding. (NB: See note below dated 15/04/2016)

- Daniel Milford-Cottam (July 2012)

This is one of 39 designs by Val St Cyr for Elizabeth Handley-Seymour. Val St. Cyr, born Arthur Andrews Hilder in Kent in 1890, worked as a designer for Madame Handley-Seymour during the First World War. Afterwards, in 1921, he linked up with Ernest Pacey Sands to co-found the London-based fashion house Baroque Ltd., which ran from 1921 to the early 1960s.

- Daniel Milford-Cottam (July 2014)

Elizabeth Handley-Seymour's great-nephew contacted the Museum in April 2016 with biographical details on his great-aunt to clarify her history. She was born in Blackpool , Lancashire, in 1867, and moved to London during the 1890s. While she appears in the 1881 and 1891 cenusus records for Blackpool with the correct ages of 13 and 23; the 5 year discrepancy in her age on the 1901 census is perhaps explained by the fact that she was rather older than James Handley-Seymour, who she married that same year.

- Daniel Milford-Cottam, 15/04/2016
Bibliographic reference
Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1957-1958 London: HMSO, 1964
Collection
Accession number
E.4938-1958

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Record createdJune 30, 2009
Record URL
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