19th Century

Juno dress: Things I wish I had known

When I first started the Juno Victorian Goddess dress, there was only one image of my inspiration gown available:

Evening Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858—1956), ca. 1890, 2009.300.635, Met


So I guessed what the train looked like, and what the back of the bodice looked like, and lots of other stuff.

Original bodice front

Original train

And I got it wrong.  Because the Met got the Brooklyn Museum’s costume collection and put up more images of the dress, and now I know that the the train looks like this:

Evening Dress, House of Worth, ca. 1890, back view, 2009.300.635, Met

The train is fancy, not plain, the bodice laces, and the bodice trimming is much more controlled.  And just look at the sleeve details, and the way those pleats fall!

Evening Dress, House of Worth, ca. 1890, 2009.300.635, Metropolitan Museum of Art

She looks so pleased with herself!  And this shot really shows how far off the shoulders the bodice sits:

Evening Dress, House of Worth (French, 1858—1956), ca. 1890, 2009.300.635, Metropolitan Museum of Art

And the other side of the dress.  Now I can see that the tulle catches back up:

Evening Dress, House of Worth, ca. 1890, silk, 2009.300.635, Metropolitan Museum of Art

And just look how different it looks without a full bustle.  Is this an original 19th century image (dubious), or the donor in the 1930s or a later museum model (far more likely)?  And is it just me or do the ruffles at the hem look not at all the same as the ones that we see today?

Evening Dress, House of Worth, ca. 1890, 2009.300.635, Met

So now that I know what the gown is supposed to look like, I just can’t be content with my version.  So, in complete disregard of the poll that I put up on the site, I have pulled the Juno dress pretty much completely apart (at least the skirt part of it), and am putting it back together.

I started by blithely pinning toile fabric to Isabella with mad abandon.

Let’s just say that didn’t work so well:

Uh...the army called, they want their camo tent back

Then I got smart, and carefully analysed the duchesse satin draping, and did that part.  And it looked pretty darn good.

Then I had to decide what to do for the tulle draping.  Silk tulle is impossible to find in NZ, so I’m having to be creative.

Option 1:

Blue and silver silk striped gauze. The colour isn't quite that good in real life, the handle is much too crisp, and it clashes with peacock feathers.

Option 2

Silver and white net lace. The colour is a bit too clash-y. And it's a synthetic

Option 3

Gold silk tulle. Perfect drape, historically correct, but I only have small scraps left over from the Laurel dress and the colour is too contrast-y.

So, with three imperfect option, I decided I was just going to have to make it work and create a perfect option.  I’m un-dyeing the gold silk tulle (and some extra gold tulle which I had dyed black for the Laurel dress) and dyeing it blue to match the duchesse silk.  Ridiculously complicated.

I’ll keep you updated!


  1. I love this dress, it is wonderful. What a cool project. I think the reason why the pleats look different in the photo of the dress worn with the full bustle is that it is now in a museum collection, or owned by a collector who has not ironed the pleats into the tulle, probably because the silk fabric is too brittle. I would go with the lace, tulle is almost a kind of lace anyway, and although it is always a little different looking at a photo to the real thing, I think the lace is the most beautiful match, out of the 3 fabrics you have, and you have plenty of it. Perfect darling!

  2. I’m so glad to know I’m not the only person who makes things ridiculously difficult.

    “Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.” -Carlyle

  3. Madame Ornata says

    The front of the dress is beautiful enough, but now the back is known, I could fair swoon with the gorgeousness of it all. I really love the detailing on the back and the cute way the sleeves fall off the shoulders. So pretty, before I wanted it, now I want it so much it aches (sigh)!

    It is a shame it has now caused you extra work but knowing you as I do, I think when it is done you will not regret taking that extra time to rework it. The dress truly deserves it and it is a suitable medium to showcase your inspirational knowledge and talents oh Dreamstress.

Comments are closed.