Interestingly, while numerous paintings of the late 1870s and early 1880s show women in low cut, almost sleeveless natural form evening gowns, like the one worn by Jeanne Samary, and fashion plates also show this style of gown, very few examples these gowns have survived.
Were they cut apart and modified for later styles? Did they become so soiled at balls that they were not worth saving? Did women tend to have only one evening gown, and a selection of reception dresses (the ones with low square necks, and 3/4 length sleeves) ? Is it because wedding dresses were reception dresses, not ballgowns, and wedding dresses represent a disproportionate amount of the extent historical garments?
Whatever the reason, I can only find one extent ballgown for every 10 reception dresses, so here are the ones I can find.
I’m infatuated with the orange/goldenrod colour of this dress, and the bodice is very similar to Jeanne’s dress in some ways. And the skirt, well, how can you not love metal embroideries of daisies!?!
Looking at the additional views of the dress (click on it to link through), I can’t help wonder if whoever dressed the mannequin haven’t given it a bit too much of a bustle, but otherwise is is fabulous.
I’ve already mentioned this dress in the early planning stages of the Juno gown. I love the way it combines the more artistic and unconventional aesthetic style with the traditional Victorian evening silhouette, and the draping is vaguely reminiscent of Jeanne’s gown. I still plan to make this someday.
This dress is fascinating because it shows such a tradition of styles, leading up to the type of dress that Jeanne wore. The last vestiges of the bertha are still seen, but the horizontal lines of the skirt have begun to show. On a side note, why, oh why, has the Met decided to show it on a crinoline! It’s clear it’s meant to be slim around the legs, with the folds of the train hiding where the pleat lines end!
With only three sleeveless evening dresses of 1878ish identified, I got bored and branched out:
Not a frock, I know, but aren’t these adorable, and don’t they look like they would go perfectly with Jeanne’s dress as shown in the painting?
And finally, this is not an evening dress, nor would it go with Jeanne’s dress, but it had a few elements that reminded me of it:
The ruching of the skirt may be how Jeanne’s dress was constructed (though I’m happy with my interpretation as a perfectly plausible recreation), and the train seems very similar. For another wedding dress of the same period with a different ‘possibly Jeanne-ish’ skirt, check out this one.