Rate the dress
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Rate the Dress: ca. 1925 Royal Flush (possibly by Poiret)

It would be hard to match last week’s Rate the Dress pick for sheer impact, so this week I’ve selected something a little simpler: a mid ’20s evening dress with a sense of fun and whimsicality, and a possible provenance to Poiret.  Will you find it no less loveable (or no less hateable)?  Let’s find out!

Last week: a c. 1892 Pingat ‘tea dress’ or tea gown

I knew when I posted the Pingat tea gown that it was going to elicit very strong reactions, good or bad.  Some of you just loved it.  Some of you loved it for sheer chutzpah.  Some of you thought it was hideous, but were impressed by the design impact.  And some of you thought it was just hideous.

(I fell into camp 3.  I couldn’t help but to admit the dress was effective, but I just couldn’t like it!).

The Total: 8.5 out of 10

Forget the dress rating.  Go check out the comments!  10/10 for those!

This week: a ca. 1925 playing card themed evening dress, possibly by Poiret

It’s coming up to Art Deco Weekend in Napier. Sadly I won’t be making it this year, but I’m using it as inspiration for this week’s Rate the Dress pick.

This dress was sold at auction in 2011. According to family history it was hand-painted by Poiret for one of his seamstresses (the grandmother of the seller) and worn to a ball held by the Compte de Beaumont.

The attribution to Poiret’s workshop isn’t confirmed.  The dress does have design elements similar to his work.  The gathered skirt at the natural waist and asymmetrical neckline are both details he used in numerous garments.

As a designer Poiret wasn’t known for his polished finishes.  His garments were meant for overall impact, rather than close inspection.  His relatively ‘crude’ sewing, however, rarely showed on the outside of garments.  I’ve always felt that the description was someone in comparison to the other great design houses of the ‘teens, who were known for their exquisite detailing.

Whatever this garment looks like on the inside, from the exterior the dress has some nice finishing touches. The multiple rows of shirred gathering control the fullness of the skirt and help it to drape beautifully.  Narrow white bindings or borders on the sleeves and neck are echoed in the skirt hem, pulling the shape of the dress together, and emphasising the angles.

The dress is presented for auction sale rather than museum display, so it’s still a bit crumpled, and lacks the fullness that a real body and the proper undergarments would provide.  Even as it is, the intent of the garment is still clearly visible.

What do you think?  Is this dress coming up trumps?  Is it queen of your heart?  A royal flush?*  Or should it just be flushed?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it!  Thanks in advance!)

* Did I get those right?  I’m not very good at card analogies.  Mr D & his cousins banned me from the family poker games when I kept mixing up poker & pool (I think it’s perfectly understandable.  One has a pool and you poke things in the other – clearly the names are wrong, not me.  (also the part where I kept winning while telling them exactly what I had – they just couldn’t believe someone would be that honest, and kept expecting that this time I must be lying.  They thought it was bad form)).


  1. Claire Payne says

    It is certainly a fun frock. I love the story that Poiret hand painted the card design and would like to believe it is true. The asymmetry is on trend, especially the style of the hem. I am less keen on the shape of the neckline and the way the waistband rises. Not a frock for a serious occasion but I rather like it. Thank you for sharing.

    7 out of 10 from me.

  2. There is something for everyone’s taste. This just looks tacky to me, like a bad re-fashion, and I’d never wear it. But what do I know. Perhaps when fresh and new it was charming. 6/10

  3. I love it, it has an Alice in Wonderland vibe. 10 out of 10. I’d wear it if it were mine

  4. I love the pattern (can’t call it a “print”, since it’s hand painted). I love the way the fabric drapes. But I don’t like the asymmetrical waistline. I’m good with asymmetrical hems, but the asymmetric waistline just makes the dress look defective. The asymmetrical neckline, which is meant as a counterpoint to the asymmetry of the waist, “shows the intent” (as the Dreamstress says), but doesn’t bring the dress close enough to beauty for me to love it.

    6.5 out of 10.

  5. Buttercup says

    This dress has an Alice in Wonderland meets tea towel vibe to it. The front makes me think of Alice in Wonderland and the back bodice looks just like a tea towel my Grandmother owned . I would love it if the designer hand painted the designs otherwise his great skill is crooked seam lines.

  6. Maire Smith says

    That’s stunning. I love the way the asymmetry in the construction echoes the asymmetry on a playing card.

  7. I think it would have been lovely when new and I wish I could see it properly presented with proper undergarments, ironed and on a mannequin. Still, I think it’s really gorgeous.


  8. Nan Jorgensen says

    I love it! Love the authentic looking colors, mildly softened by time, asymmetrical , and the flattering 20s element. I saw Poiret dresses in a musée de la mode in Marseille. I think it’s probably his!

  9. Bernice says

    I can safely say that I absolutely love this dress. The (admittedly) at first rather lumpy waistline would look much more logical on a moving
    person I think, and I love the very playful card pattern. I think overall this is a lot less dramatic but a lot more wearable than many 1920s dresses (OK, I guess anything with massive playing cards and a bright blue background slightly curtails the wearability of a garment but it’s eccentric while still being quite informal and not overly ostentatious.) In conclusion, I just really like how this dress works although that may or may not be due to my general infatuation with the 1920s.
    (I agree that an iron and some better presentation would be nice but that’s not the dress’ fault)

  10. 2/10 looks like some body playing dressup in Granny’s old tablcloth even allowing for it age and possible deterioration of color it’s
    frumpy. And Wow that’s the most negative I have ever felt about a gown you posted. Total gut reaction.

  11. Lalaith says

    Would be nice for a costume party but I can’t imagine wearing it anywhere else.

    If intended for a costume party, 9/10.

  12. the way the asymmety is expressed makes me think that it has been pulled askew, but I do like the way the skirt gathers are distributed.

    Although there must have been much skill printing the fabric, it does have too much of a home-decor vibe for my taste.

    7 of 19

  13. Rachel says

    The cards feel a little silly and clumsy to me, but what a beautiful shape this dress has, everything pulled so elegantly up to the left. And I can imagine how dynamic all the card shapes would be as the dress moved, the skirt spinning around with a turn or fluttering as the wearer sat and crossed her legs.

    I’d prefer a different, colorful, geometric design (maybe something darker including a bit of sparkle?), but I still very much like it for what it is.


  14. Lisa Rea says

    I love the cut, and since I am in Las Vegas, I especially love the painting. 10/10! I would definitely wear it

  15. Not too impressed. Even with the Poiret connection. Maybe better feeling about it if it were pressed.
    But as someone said, maybe good for a costume party? I can see the asymmetric styling might be a nod to overlapping cards, but still.
    So, I think 5/10 because I hope it was for costume or someone known for loving to play cards or something. But not enough to think this was even a good thing to wear in that period.

  16. The concept here is great. I love it in theory, and I want to love it in practice too, but I can’t. I do like the arrangement and placement of the cards around the hem. It accentuates the hem and shows a nice use of colour and shape. However, something about the contrast between the blue background on the bodice and the mostly white skirt seems a bit discordant to me, and I think I would like it more if the bodice also had a white background with cards accentuating the neckline area, similar to what’s been done with the skirt hem.

    All up, 7/10

  17. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    It looks like a tablecloth my mother used for bridge parties.

    Removing the presentation and just looking at the dress … I can see it for a dinner party with cards afterward, for a costume ball, or to wear to a casino. But seamstresses were usually not invited to balls given by the nobility, so the story is likely highly embroidered. What I could believe is that the seamstress scavenged “cabbage” from her work and made the dress for herself from what wasn’t used for a client’s dress.

    Nice asymmetry on the neckline. But the distribution of the design is a bit awkward and the back waistline looks badly sewn and sagging instead of asymmetrical. The neckline is angular but the waistline is rounded.


  18. I really don’t love it. Instead, I’m perplexed and put off by it. It doesn’t strike me as polished or elegant… I would not wear this.

    Is it allowed to give a 0/10? If not, then 1/10 from me.


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