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Evening dress

Evening dress

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1913 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lucile, born 1863 - died 1935 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Satin, trimmed with chiffon and machine-made lace, silk velvet, lined with grosgrain, whalebone

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In 1960 the Museum acquired a cross-section of Miss Heather Firbank's wardrobe dating from the early 1900s to 1920. The particularly distinctive garments include understated pastel-coloured day dresses, immaculately tailored suits and graceful evening dresses, such as this satin gown. It reveals Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) in a fairly restrained mood. The long slit skirt is especially interesting, although its draped construction is not too revealing despite Lady Duff Gordon's claim that she had 'loosed upon a startled London . . . draped skirts that opened to reveal the legs'.

Lucile was born Lucy Sutherland in London in 1863. She began dressmaking for friends, and in 1891 opened her own fashion house. She married Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon in 1900. Lady Duff Gordon became a celebrated fashion designer with branches in New York (1909), Chicago (1911) and Paris (1911). She was famous for her clever use of fabrics to create soft and harmonious effects, subtle colour schemes and romantic dresses, particularly suited to evening wear. As she wrote in Discretions and Indiscretions (1932): 'For me there was a positive intoxication in taking yards of shimmering silks, laces airy as gossamer and lengths of ribbons, delicate and rainbow-coloured, and fashioning of them garments so lovely that they might have been worn by some princess in a fairy tale'.

Physical description

Silk satin evening dress trimmed with chiffon and machine-made lace. With cummerbund of silk velvet. The bodice is lined with grosgrain and supported with whalebone.

Long slit skirt with a curved train and gathered into a high waist. The fullness of the front is draped up and caught at the top of the right thigh to give the impression of an overskirt. There is no seam at the right side, but the right front panel is lapped over the back so the slit is not too revealing. The curved-trained hem has a deep facing of ivory satin attached to a crêpe cream chiffon lining. The bottom curve of the train has a line of small lead weights.

The bodice, which has short Magyar type sleeves, is mounted on a cream crêpe de chine lining, and consists of a double layer of fine cream plain weave muslin overlaid with a band of bold and coarse machine-made burnt out lace, and two outer layers of cream crêpe chiffon. The outer edges have a machined picot finish. The bodice have a wide cummerbund of black silk velvet ribbon which is caught to the bodice to create a random ruched effect. At the top front right of the cummerbund is a pleated band of black silk velvet ribbon. The right back is decorated with a floating trail of black silk velvet ribbon attached to the waist and by its side is a swag of black silk velvet ribbon which conceals a side opening which press studs fastens. The bodice has a cream grosgrain waist stay with a prong buckle-type fastening. The bodice is mounted on a broad lightly boned wide cream grosgrain waist foundation which fastens at the right side with hooks and eyes. The dress has a complex hook and eye fastening system at the bodice back. The skirt has an attached petticoat of fine plain weave cream silk with a wide border of machine-made lace threaded with a peach silk ribbon which terminates with a bow at the right side.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1913 (designed)


Lucile, born 1863 - died 1935 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Satin, trimmed with chiffon and machine-made lace, silk velvet, lined with grosgrain, whalebone

Marks and inscriptions

'Lucile Ltd, 28 Hanover Square, London W1'
Woven on a label on the bodice, green on cream


Circumference: 19 in waist

Descriptive line

Silk satin evening dress trimmed with chiffon and machine-made lace, Lucile, London,1913


Fashion; Lace; Evening wear; Women's clothes; Formal wear; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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