You didn’t quite warm up to last week’s blonde silk Lanvin frock, declaring it underdeveloped in design an execution, and it came in at a paltry 5.9 out of 10 – quite poor for Lanvin!
Since not-quite-yellow designer wasn’t your thing, this week I present a properly yellow frock, purportedly from the wardrobe of a duchess.
This robe a la francaise of brocaded silk is came from the wardrobe of ‘Lydia Catharine, Duchess of Chandos (m. 1736)’, the third wife of James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos.
The gown shows evidence of re-styling common in mid-18th c gowns, as fabric was so valuable that even the wealthiest women often had their frocks re-made to match the current fashions. Lydia died in 1750, so the re-style would have been done by the next owner of the dress.
I’m being fanciful here, but I’d like to believe the next owner might have been the 2nd wife of Henry, the 2nd Duke of Chandos. Anne (d. 1759), a former chambermaid married Henry in 1744 (coincidentally, only 4 months after the death of the 1st Duke, who might conceivably have objected to his son and heir marrying a maid). The story of the 2nd Dukes marriage to Anne, if it is to be believed, is quite unusual, and either horribly creepy or quite romantic, depending on how you look at it.
As the Gentleman’s Magazine retold the story a century later in 1832:
The Duke of Chandos, while staying at a small country inn, saw the ostler beating his wife in a most cruel manner; he interfered and literally bought her for half a crown. She was a young and pretty woman; the Duke had her educated; and on the husband’s death he married her.
Oh my, the 18th century, when you could save a woman from an abusive relationship by buying her! The mind boggles…
It’s equally possible that the next owner was someone entirely random, as the 1st Duke died with enormous debts, and Lydia sold off huge amounts of furniture, artwork, and personal effects to pay for them.
Interestingly, we have single images of three different presentations of the gown, on three different mannequins, with two choices of stomacher to match, to guide our rating.
The gown is generally quite typical of its time, but has some interesting twists – like the curl of the trim which frames the skirt opening, which was part of the inspiration for the trim of my pet-en-l’aire.
What do you think?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10