Rate the dress
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Rate the Dress: subtle and sparkly 1908

There has been no Rate the Dress for the last two weeks, because I was focusing on the Fortnight in 1916, but it’s back!  Last time I did a Rate the Dress I showed two things that have not, in the past, done very well on RTD: childrenswear, and blue-green combinations.  In this case though, reactions ranged from a sprinkling of ‘it’s a nice dress, not fabulous, but I shall give it a 7’ to a LOT of ‘I want to make it!  Love!’ 10s.  Big pockets and historicism for the win!  It came in at a perfect 9 out of 10.

The last couple of weeks have been very stressful for me, for reasons that had nothing to do with the Fortnight, so I’m feeling the need for something soothing and restful in the way of frocks.  While I would never say ‘oooh, that colour is amazing!’ about a length of fabric the shade of this dress, I find looking at it very relaxing and soothing.

For me, it’s a shade that’s very appealing without being demanding: the kind of thing you wear when you want to be impeccably dressed, the epitome of tastefulness, without shouting for attention.

The embroidery on this dress gives a definite twist to dress, taking it from potentially retiring, to quite interesting.  The colour scheme is subtle, but the layout is unexpected, and the intricate patterning moves the eye around the dress, drawing it upward to the wearer.

What do you think? Is it still a yawn? Or just the right mix of detail, subtlety and refinement?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

36 Comments

  1. Elise says

    I want to marry this dress. 10!

    And whatever is happening, fingers crossed. I’m rooting for you!

  2. Rachel says

    I don’t know whether this dress is innovative or old hat for its time, but what it does, it does gorgeously. It makes me think of filigreed jewelry – or even more of some finely etched blade (even the lace collar has a serrated edge to it) but there’s nothing gimmicky about it. The dress looks very natural and at ease with itself, but it would still draw attention.

    10/10

    (I hope whatever’s causing the stress works out for the best for you.)

  3. Ah, Callot Soeurs. Every dress of their that I’ve seen pictures of, I have loved, and this is no exception.

    I love the placement of the exquisitely beautiful embroidery. I wish I knew what “metal” some of the beads are made from, so I could figure out if they have tarnished. I think they have, but even so the look of the piece is splendid. If they were silvery when new, the embroidered areas would have shimmered by candlelight, against that pale pink silk; the vision would have been breathtaking.

    My only quibble is with the longish lace cuffs; they are well-done and beautiful, but seem a bit out of place with the rest of the dress. A 9.5 out of 10.

  4. Robin G. says

    Oooh, I’d have to agree with the lace comment above – it is the only thing about the gown that bothers me. A finer, cobweb-ish lace would have been better, and in off-black rather than that heavy vanilla. 9 out of 10

  5. Alex says

    Mmm bronze satin <3

    I'm not sure about the lace, but I suppose it has darkened over time.

    I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, and say 10/10

  6. Annabelle Smith says

    It’s lovely, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat! 10/10!

  7. Lynne says

    I really like it. It’s also one of the dresses that could be worn by anyone from twenty to ninety! Very sophisticated colours, and the embroidery is really lovely. Luxury. I’m not 100% in love with the lace sleeves – a bit too long?

    9 out of 10.

  8. I love the dress except for the lace, however I suspect the lace may have changed colour from being the same as the silk to being tea colours so I’m going to give it a 9/10

  9. I am marrying that dress. I want it. I love it, it’s gorgeous, I can’t imagine it being any other colour as it is so rich and subtle and that is what I feel is needed for the amount of embroidery on it. Too high contrast and it would be GOT like.
    That embroidery! The glorious art nouveau lines and shapes of it, the back! Oh the back!
    Can I give it 1000/10? NO? Oh well, 10 then!

  10. It certainly is a very nice dress. And very restful. It reminds me a lot of Queen Maud of Norway’s gowns, although she favoured slightly stronger colours. But very regal and imposing while at the same time being subtle and muted. I can imagine the lady who wore this, and she has authority and presence. The lines are lovely, and yes, the embroidery layout is really nicely judged. I’m not quite so keen on the ecru/beige lace so that takes off a point, so, hmm, 8/10. I like it, but it’s not a perfect 10 for me, so it would have been a 9/10 with a better alternative to the ecru lace (or even no lace).

  11. Okay, now I’ve read the comments, and it’s beginning to stress me out trying to decide what colour the dress is, I had it as a pearl-grey, but is it pink, or purple, or…. bronze? (Bronze?? Really?)

  12. Charlotte says

    At first glance, this was a 10/10 – but on closer inspection the balance seems off, with a bit too much going on on the bodice. 9/10.

  13. Amy says

    There’s almost an ombre effect going on, starting from light to dark as the eye travels up. The lace placement on the back is lovely, it’s not overly done yet feels finished. Callot Soeurs works never seem to disappoint.

  14. It sits really awkwardly on the dummy. The bodice looks oddly shapeless from the front, less glamour and glitz and more potato sack. All the pretty embroidery and lace cannot give the front a more flattering cut. The back view is nicer. 6/10.

  15. The embroidery is stunning – unusual without being peculiar. As someone noted earlier, it resembles fine filigree jewelry.

    The color is remarkable and indescribable – somewhere in a range between silver and pastel puce.

    For me the lines of the dress are graceful and beautifully blended with the embroidery.

    10 of 10

  16. sewcharacteristicallyyou.comThe color scheme is muted enough without being dull and boring. I like the embroidery, but personally like how the back of the dress was executed better than the front. I like the lace, but the sleeve length with that much lace on the edge seems a little clunky, (personally).
    All in all it still gets a 7/10 from me.

    Sarah
    http://www.sewcharacteristicallyyou.com/blog

  17. ProfessorBats says

    An 8 for me. I’d call it a light taupe, and I find the color very elegant. I love the embroidery on the front, while the back is harder to judge on a dummy. In movement, it probably looks stunning, but as shown, I’m unsure about the heavy concentration of embroidery at the back hem, and the way it weighs down the fabric. The design on the back, drawing the eye to the open, un-embroidered spaces, seems rather erotic to me. Especially in this almost-nude coloring. So is the wide lace at the decolleté, which, given that the lace would reveal tiny glimpses of skin, is quite low. I think the wide lace cuffs on the sleeves are fine because they match the neckline lace, and would probably look much less conspicuous against fashionably pale skin than against the stark white dummy. But I have reservations about the sleeves. The heavy concentration of embroidery near the edge makes the odd just-above-the-elbow length very obvious, detracts from the clean lines of the bodice, and provides a too hard transition to the lace cuff. To me, it’s not the lace but the sleeve embroidery that’s the problem. If the embroidery was only on the top sleeve/shoulder part, creating a nice waist-defining V shape, and none or very light embroidery lower on the sleeve, I think it might be a ten.

  18. Anna says

    definitely 10/10
    Elegant, toned down(I’m not a big fan of bright-colored frocks) but at the same time very decorative.
    the only thing I’m not happy about is that they certainly could display on a mannequin with a correct silhouette and size(or do their little tricks so a dress would actually fit it). this one doesn’t do this dress a justice. it’s like they don’t care for a dress to look good. i hate to see it on museum photos. the most awe-inspiring court dress might end up looking terribly on a modern-slihouetted mannequin. 🙁

    • While I’m sure you didn’t mean to be hurtful with your comment, it’s best to keep in mind that there are actual people, with feelings, who dress the mannequins, and that they have enormous constraints in terms of time, money, and the fragility of the garments to deal with when they dress and photograph an item. I know for a fact that there are curators and collection managers and a number of museums who read this blog, and they all struggle with poor pay, and not enough resources to deal with all the items, display them, AND meet the requests of the public who want information about items.

      While I acknowledge when a garment isn’t presented to its best advantage, to help people visualise it as it might have been, I always try to imagine the people who actually dressed the item, and how they would feel about it. A custom dress form can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so not every garment will have one, and staging many garments for photographs will take 2-3 man days per garment. Some garments are so fragile it’s almost impossible to really stage them so they fit and look perfect, as a dressform in the ideal size would put too much strain on the garment. If a garment isn’t going to be photographed for a book or a show, collection managers often have to make the decision to take a little less time getting it absolutely perfect for a photograph, in the interest of making getting more of the collection photographed, and available to the public. I’d always rather have any photograph of a garment online, rather than none at all, even if the display isn’t 100% perfect.

      As someone who is always stressed getting ready for events, and does many of them as charity benefits for museums and other organisations, and could make a lot more money doing things that don’t make as many people happy, it really hurts when people criticise something that I spent hours of unpaid labour on, and tried and tried to get as nice as possible, because it isn’t ironed as well as they think it might have been, or doesn’t fit the model as perfectly as it fits me. So I always try to keep that in mind with museum staff – they aren’t paid like professional stylists, and they are just trying to make as many items as possible accessible to the public. Saying it looks like they don’t care about their work is pretty harsh. 🙁

  19. Pamela says

    I think it’s gorgeous! And – since I was just seeing pictures wiz by of Pippa Middleton and her new engagement ring – I can imagine her wearing it and making it work in any era! 10/10

  20. Amie says

    I loved it! I am in the, ” lace cuffs must not be of original color” camp. However, I love this dress.
    Whenever presented with these historical garments, I try to think of who the intended wearer would of been, and what is the purpose of the garment. I also try to imagine myself in the garment.
    How spectacular would it be with appropriate period hair, jewels, footwear?
    I just love everything with this gown. The v shape on top is beautiful.
    I give this one a 10/10

  21. India says

    For the most part I rather like this dress. Putting aside my built in prejudice against three quarter sleeves whatever the period (awkward to wear and awkward to look at), I agree with others that the sleeves are the weakest point of the design. The lace and the body of the sleeve seem out of balance. Otherwise an elegant dress for an elegant lady but with perhaps a touch of the dowager about it. 7/10

  22. I looooooove the motif in the center! Love, love, love the application and placement of it on this dress, and the color is wonderfully elegant.

    9/10

  23. As an object, it is gorgeous. However, I wonder how the unusual colour would interact with the skintone of a flesh-and-blood woman (assuming it was intended to be worn by a white(ish) woman). Near flesh-tones are often horribly unflattering. 8/10

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