20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Making Music with Schiaparelli

Either I have lost my ability to find pictures of non-attractive historical frocks, or y’all have gotten soft in your ratings, because you like everything I have been showing you.  Cabanel’s young lady rated an 8.8 out of 10 (it would have been a nine, but she lost out for the limp lace), and the lady in red rated an 8.4 out of 10.

Will a 20th century frock continue the winning streak?  Or will Schiaparelli be a step too far?

Schiaparelli’s designs can never be accused of not being brave, and her 1939 music inspired collection was no exception.  This particular evening dress features musical notes embroidered in metallic thread, matching gloves, and a music box belt buckle.

Evening dress, Schiaparelli, House of Lesage, 1939. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

What do you think?  Would the dress help a pretty girl to be like a melody, or is it a bit out of tune?

Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10


  1. I would give it a 7. Although I think the gloves are over kill. If the gloves were necessary I would go with a plain pair pulling one of the softer colors from the dress. Maybe the sage green.

  2. I love the gown- sans the gloves and belt. I could see the gown with a ribbon belt- or the belt and gloves with a suit- but together… not so much.

  3. I love the hape of the dress and the belt, but I think the print is just too much for me. I might like it more if the music note print was not on the bodice and only on the skirt.

  4. OMG!!!
    This would be something that will give me dressmaker nightmare. I can just imagine the look of catastrophic remorse on the poor dressmaker’s face who had to sew this piece of awful.
    It started out as a nice flowing dress with gloves until the music symbol motifs and weird belt just sent the whole outfit to Hell in a basket with fruit and neatly tied bows.

    Because the “base” was nicely made: 3.5/10

  5. Natalie says

    I actually really like this dress. It looks like it belongs in a 30’s or 40’s black and white with a nightclub singer. I can totally see the beautiful songstress hair all curled with a magnolia in it. In my black and white image the gloves totally work. In this color image perhaps not so much. I give it a 7/10

  6. This dress looks like a costume for a musical about a small town girl who wants to make it on Broadway. Maybe it’s the matching gloves that take it over the top, or maybe it’s the heavy music box belt buckle, or maybe it’s the lobster. Wait, that’s from a dress I d like. The dress isn’t really horrible, other than the white belt being a little heavy, but it seems somehow gimmicky rather than striking. Eh, a 6.

    • Elise says

      Hahaha! I love the description of the ‘small-town girl who wants to make it on Broadway.’

      I love the cut of the dress. I just don’t think that the notes are very elegant….but I’d still wear the dress. 6.

  7. I do like the dress… and the belt is wonderful… but I would definitely do without the gloves.

    I think that the sleeves and the belt don’t go together so well. I would say you either need to get rid of the belt or make the sleeves cap sleeves (or just nix them altogether.)

    • I forgot a number 🙂
      I say a 7. the pieces are great but it’s too much in one outfit.

  8. While I utterly love the colours in the sequinned motifs together, I would have preferred this dress if the sequins had all been bronzy, to tone with the deep cream silk organza (or whatever it is). I think Natalie has it on the nose – in black and white in a movie, YUM!. Too much colour AND texture.
    Love the gloves but not with the dress – I want the dress to have fitting gloves to the elbow. The baggier gauntlet shape is a bit daywearish for me.
    Having said ALL that, I love that Schiapparelli just never let up. This dress is about pushing boundaries, not commerical viability. Like something Lady Gaga would wear, 1940’s style, not something Vivienne Leigh would have worn.
    So, picture a row of men in tails and top hats singing ‘A pretty girl is like a melody” and then a row of coy nymphs in wee outfits covered in sequinned musical staves with gramapohne record hats peeling away left and right as the camera tracks them, until the Star is Revealed, posing on a glittery fake grand piano, in this dress with the skirt trailing artfully over the edge. She opens her mouth to sing and…Now THAT I can see! Fab! 8 out of 10. 2 off for me having to have done all that work to love it!

  9. 2 out of 10. I give it 2 points for the shape and cut of the dress, but everything else is just awful.

  10. I’ve no problem with the basic style of the dress. But the color is so drab, and the music motifs are…tacky. Especially the ones on the gloves. 6 because the basic style is nice, and I’m feeling generous.

  11. I love the shape and fabric of the dress. Hate the gloves and the belt is too bulky. I don’t mind the colour of the music notes but think they’re a bit twee.

    6/10 from me

  12. Frecklehead says

    I actually like it a lot, but only without the gloves and belt. It reminds me of a 1930’s or 1940’s musical, maybe with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney lol.

    7/10 for sheer whimsicality. 😀

  13. Julia Waite says

    This reminds me of why I love Yves Saint Laurent’s Le smoking tuxedo and everything it stands for. I give it a 1 out of 10 for those mean gloves….

  14. 4. 3 points for the shape and style, which I really like. 1 more for the general musical note idea.

    The gloves really bring it down. Simple, solid gloves would work, but not those.

    I think that the style needs a belt, but not this one. It’s too light/bright in relation to the rest of the dress. If it were a darker ecru or maybe sage green it would work wonderfully.

    Also, I think that the large musical notes on the bodice and then the small ones on the hips are awkward and unbalanced. If they were the same size or perhaps started small on the bodice and got larger toward the hem it would balance it out a lot better.

  15. I wrote a long post about my relationship with Schiaparelli’s designs. And then the computer ate it.
    So here’s a very short one. It does not work for me. The bright colours make the poor gentle beige look drab. 3.

  16. Sineuve says

    No way anyone will look good in that. Not even with a pretty 30’s hairstyle. Curvy lines with sparkly notes on them? Blech.. Perhaps the idea was still fresh and fun when she designed the dress, but to the modern eye it just looks cheap, I think. And the gloves are just so ugly, they are wrong in shape, color and everything.
    Waste of time and material: 1/10 for bravery.

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