Rate the dress

Rate the Dress – 1700s mantua

The assessment of  last week’s dress was fairly unanimous, with most people expressing that Maria didn’t do the dress justice.    As Jo-Anne astutely summed it up, the dress was overpowering.  Some of you did approved of Maria’s ‘death stare/don’t give a damn/emo’ attitude though, and combined with the stunning (if mis-worn) dress she rated a 6.5 – not a complete failure.*

I’m still in a glitzy, metallic mood (OK, when am I not in a glitzy, metallic mood!), so I present for your consideration this turn-of-the-century (the 18th century) Italian confection of Madonna blue and silver, from the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Are you in love?  Or are you in like?  Or is your reaction more along the lines of “burn it now please?”

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10

*P.S. Am I the only one that was really, really tempted to photoshop Kristen Stewart’s face into the painting?  I swear, it would make total sense if she was a reincarnation of Maria!


  1. I generally like the shape of mantuas anyway (they’re so graceful!), and the metal embroidery on this one is exquisite. A 9, definitely. I’d make it a 10, but there’s something slightly off about the proportions of this one.

  2. 10 10 10 10 10. Love mantuas, and this one is particularly fabulous. Love the little bustle-like thing going on at the back.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. MrsC says

    Oh yum. Isn’t it exquisite! I love also how it’s displayed, with all of the bits that are not part of the old garment just plain white. I think it must have been made for an older lady with maybe a thicker waistline. The fabric is so beautiful and the shapes too, love the slight puff of the pulled back pretendy overskirt into a bustle, it’s almost a promise of things to come 160 years later.
    If I could give this a 12 I would.

  4. Absolutely, without doubt, a 10. Very graceful, very elegant, very… toned down for such an exquisite gown. Balanced out. Whatever. Lovely.

  5. Oh dear, I’m afraid I’m going to bring the average down a bit with my decidedly ‘meh’ response. I love blue; I love goldwork (especially silver on blue); I love the 18th century. But I’m not generally a mantua-fan, and I’m definitely not a fan of the OTT fontange era, and I just can’t find much to like about it really. Not loving the very small pattern – it’s too busy – and the train looks like they ran out of matching fabric or couldn’t be bothered to keep embroidering. I do agree with Mrs C, though, I love the way it’s displayed with the white items sorta fading into the background yet giving some context. 4/10 (sorry, guys!).

  6. Dawn says

    I give it a 9. I’d give it a 10 if were made entirely of the bustle material! I prefer simpler patterns (obviously!) but I have to admire the talent and patience that went into all of that embroidery.

  7. Well, I’m with GentlewomanThief. I like the colors and the era but it just seems odd to me. At first I thought it was an 1870’s gown that was all wonky. Upon realizing it was actually from the 18th century made me all the more meh towards it, but kudos to that poor person who had to do all that amazing embroidery! WOW. 5/10

  8. Well…I am between in like and in love. I adore the textiles–especially the plainer accent piece on the train. I’d prefer the gown fabric if it were just a touch less ornate, but it’s still lovely. And the colors are swoonworthy. But I’m not terribly fond of mantuas, and this one does not seem like there’s quite enough to the construction to support that much bling. The shape feels just shy of flattering. Plus frontages put me in mind of fancy-folded napkins at a formal dinner, only plopped on a head rather than on a plate. Overall–a 7.

  9. MrsC says

    The other thing that I think is remarkable is how bright the colour is! Blue is a very fady colour in silk, but this looks like it is ten years old not 300+. A-mazing. I wonder how it survived, not only not remodelled but in one piece and as blue as the day she first put it on…

  10. From the other comments I guess it helps that I have no experience with mantuas whatsoever. *giggle* I actually like the shape of this one more. It looks more natural. I don’t like the wasp waist of the one Catherine linked to… sorry.

  11. Paul Miller says

    I don’t mind the proportion of the skirt to the bodice, but the sleeves seem baggy and untailored to me, which I think lends to a cumbersome quality of the overall silhouette. I agree with some others about the busy scale of the fabric. In home textiles, we call that kind of fabric a ‘ditsy’ and it is invaluable in bridging scale between large patterns and solids, but to my eyes it feels tiresome used as the primary fabric, even if on something as small as a dress [small compared to a sofa or window treatments]. What I do love is this neckline, my very favorite decolletage from any period, and one that I still think flatters almost all women. 6/10

  12. MrsC says

    Oh my goodness, I love the shapes in the wool one. I love how the fold backs of the bodice flow into the wrap around that cascades at the back. So sculptural!

  13. Emily Rains says

    LOVE it!!!! Beautiful shape and color! It gets a 10 from me 🙂

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