Last week’s Rate the Dress was a cherry-bedecked Worth gown, and while it got a lot of love, the general consensus was that the cherry pattern wasn’t quite balanced properly across the dress, and the pigeon breast wasn’t entirely working, even if one was a fan of pigeon breasts. Plus, the sleeves had so clearly seen better days that it was hard to envision exactly what those better days looked like. So, all these pulled the dress down to a nice-but-not-fabulous 8.1 out of 10.
This week’s Rate the Dress is 110 years earlier than last week’s, an entirely different colour, and an entirely different style of dress, and yet to me there is an aesthetic resonance between the two. Something in the back pleats, the very round flowers, and the puffed cuffs its shown with in the fully dressed version make me think of the two dresses together, and so showing you this one this week just makes sense:
The Met describes this close-backed 1780s dress of floral silk as a Robe à la Polonaise, and while there is considerable discussion in the historical costuming world if that is the correct term for all dresses with picked up skirts, I’ve left the descriptor as the museum has applied it in this case.
The dress features vivid yellow silk, of the shade often described as Imperial Yellow, ornamented with even rows of pink flowers (probably peonies), around which flutter moths and butterflies. The silk was almost certainly hand-painted in China, and imported into the West. In Chinese iconography, the combination of peonies and moths symbolises the attraction between men and women, which would certainly give the dress a very flirtatious appeal!
The petticoat and front edges of the overskirt are ornamented with self fabric trim with rounded pinked upper edges, and vandyke pinked lower edges, all pressed into crips pleats.
The Met has paired it with an elaborately embroidered fichu, mushroom hat, puffed cuffs, dress cane, and green shoes. What do you think of the overall style, and the museums styling?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10