Rate the dress
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Rate the Dress: Uber-lingerie frock by Lucile

With an impressive score of 9.3, last week’s Russian evening/court gown on Nadezhda Polovtseva continued our run of well-received Rate the Dresses.

It came up in the comments, so I thought I’d reassure you that I’m really not trying to pick garments that I’m sure you’ll like!  My goal is always to choose something that I think it interesting and provides grounds for discussion, and (with a few exceptions) I can rarely predict how a garment will taken.  So let’s find out how this one does…

I’ve been looking at lots of 1910s evening gowns for the construction of my Costume College Gala gown, so this week’s Rate the Dress is on-theme, with a confection by the queen of 1910s romantic froth: Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon.

This dress is the ultimate mid-1910s iteration of a lingerie gown: a delicate lace frock which uses techniques borrowed from lingerie construction, like lace insertion, hemstitching, faggoting, layers of texture showing through sheer veiling, and dainty ribbon trimming.

The overall effect is etherial, fragile, and utterly feminine, with a sweetness that turns the potential risqué overtones of peek-a-book lace and details taken from ‘underwear’ into a demure whole.

Even Lucile’s label is all sweetness and froth:

Dress, Lucile (British, 1863–1935), 1916–17, British, silk, cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978.288.1a, b

Dress, Lucile (British, 1863–1935), 1916–17, British, silk, cotton, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978.288.1a, b

Sadly, the presentation of this dress never affords us a view of the hem, so you’ll have to imagine how it finishes, and how much of a view of clocked stockings and delicate satin shoes would have been provided.

What do you think?  Is the overall effect of all this texture and and daintiness charming and appealing, or a little too cloying and confusing?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

17 Comments

  1. The front of the bodice looks to me oddly like a rear view, but I’ll assume that such is not the case.

    It’s lovely! Cool and graceful, with the twin appeal of “isn’t that a negligee” and “so sweet and innocent.” But the rear-ish looking bodice keeps me from giving it a perfect score.

    9 out of 10.

  2. MayravB says

    Hm, I’m usually a fan of white/cream lace (a big, big fan!) and especially of white/cream lace in the Edwardian era/teens, but I don’t find I care for this. Somehow the bodice looks small but saggy, instead of elegant. Like, a lacy pigeon breast bodice (and I’m taking shots in the dark at terms so correct me if I use the wrong ones/eras) is elegant and full, and a lacy flapper dress or, I dunno, flat-ish bodiced tea gown is elegant and flat, but this is neither.

    Now that I look more at it, I wonder if it would look better on a mannequin/person with a more protruding bust. Well, regardless, I don’t like all the crossing of angled layers: the v-neck, with angled straps (but not the same angle) and the curved lace and then the curved over-part (but not the same curve). Nope, I don’t like it.

    6/10

  3. Tegan says

    While I normally love Lucille and frothy lingerie gowns, this one isn’t really doing it for me. I think it’s the way it looks like a crazy quilt with all the different pieces that are embroidered or are net or are lace etc etc.

    Overall it’s pretty, but I’ve seen better. 7/10

  4. Emma says

    I like it a lot. I rather like the sweetness of it (which it somehow manages to pull off, despite also looking like a petticoat.) I also like that it remains fairly simple despite all the lace and embellishment. Just lovely.
    10/10

  5. Judi says

    I find myself unimpressed by a style I’d usually love. These types of lacey- lingerie dresses are stunning on very young ladies, but this one seems less than stunning. When I look more closely, though, I think its simply the effects of age on the lace and silk flowers and the presentation that is really lacking. The underbodice isn’t sitting correctly, and I think its on the wrong size mannequin. And, as you mention, it’s disappointing to not be able to see the bottom edge.
    6/10

  6. Sarah says

    Having done some fine heirloom sewing, I give it a 10/10. Love the bodice straps under the netting.

  7. Florence says

    One question first:
    What ist faggoting? I never heard of that technique.

    Now onto the dress:
    Mh. It really doesn’t do anything for me. I can’t even pinpoint why I don’t like it, but it’s somehow underwhelming.
    Sadly, after the last few dresses which were big hits for me
    5/10

    • Tegan says

      It’s an embroidery technique where you join to pieces of fabric together with an airy, ladder like stitch. It makes it not a seam, but a kind of lace effect.

  8. Sweetly pretty. The detailing is lovely and the effect is delicate, but it’s not really for me. For what it is, it is very nice, but I tend to prefer Lucile pieces that are a bit bolder and more flourishy, and this seems very, very, very ingenue to me. In fact, it’s not full-on Lucile enough for me, I’m afraid! Very, very pretty but kind of forgettable, unlike some of her other designs. 6/10.

  9. I very much like the simplicity of the shape, and the vertical-horizontal-diagonal lines of trim. What puts me off is the ribbon roses and handling of the ribbon trim at the bodice. The gathering of the bodice give the ribbon a bunchiness which is amplified by the blobs of ribbon roses.

    8 of 10

  10. mom says

    I think it is sweet, slightly fussy and over-the top with different sort of lace insets and embroidery and what have you, but redeemed by the simple, flowing, graceful lines and by sticking to one colour only.

    8/10

    NB: Thanks for giving so much background information, concerning lingerie style dresses etc.

  11. Emma C says

    8.5/10, I love all the delicate lace, and lingerie gowns are usually my favourites, but this one isn’t doing it for me as much as some I’ve seen. It’s a bit sweet perhaps? Super fun selection though!

  12. I find myself strangely ambivalent with a dress style I would normally love. There’s nothing in particular I can point to – it just doesn’t sing for me.

    I agree with others who think the dress is on the wrong size dress form.

    7/10.

  13. Katie says

    It’s detailed and delicate but the bodice is a bit too fussy. I wonder what it would look like on a person though – the bodice is quite see-through and I think skin tone showing through would be nice. 8/10 from me – I love the skirt.

  14. Julia Ergane says

    The bodice of the dress is rather frumpish and there is nothing else about the gown to redeem it. 5/10

  15. I like it, but I don’t love it. I think part of it is the way the top gives the illusion of a halter top- the top of the bust piece raises up, and the tapes over the shoulders aim inwards- and it doesn’t go with the rest. Also the wide satin belt looks uncomfortable, whereas a lot of lingerie dresses look relaxed.

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