20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Fireworks by Chanel

High marks for the Va-va-voom stripey ’50s number last week!  That is, unless you didn’t like chartreuse, or had misgivings about the bag-pouf on the hip.  Those little niggles dragged the dress down to a still impressive 8.2 out of 10 (though the jury is still out on who would look good in it: Grace Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Marilyn Monroe or Christina Hendricks?  My money’s on Cyd.  Grace is too prim, Marilyn too cliche and Christina too curvy – it would just be too OTT, not to mention obscene, on her figure!)

Last week I missed out on posting a Halloween Rate the Dress – no real reason, I simply forgot.

To make up for it, I thought I’d post a Guy Fawke’s Rate the Dress this week.  The problem with that is that I’ve already posted James I, his wife  Anne of Denmark  not once but twice, his son and heir Charles I  as a teenager, and his daughter Elizabeth of Bohemia  (who the Gunpowder plot had aimed to replace James with) as a child.  Without good images of Guy Fawkes himself, who is left to post?

How about something else Guy Fawkes-y?  Like a fireworks dress!  Last night I drove home from sewing class and got to watch reflection of the fireworks exploding over Wellington in the buildings around me as I drove.  It was stunning.

Will you think this dress is stunning too?

Evening dress, 1938-9, House of Chanel, silk & plastic, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evening dress, 1938-9, House of Chanel, silk & plastic, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evening dress, 1938-9, House of Chanel, silk & plastic, Metropolitan Museum of Art

What do you think?  Is this the perfect celebration dress, mixing little-black-dress elegance with a bit of sparkle, or is it a little too literal?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Wow. This made a great first impression on me. As I scrolled through the photos though I was not quite happy about the design as it circled the waist. 9/10 – it must have been a blast to wear.

  2. Daniel says

    9/10 from me too – I can’t get over how effectively it photographs. It does genuinely look like fireworks! A simple shape perfectly offset by wonderful decoration and embellishment. The only problem is that the transition between bodice and skirt is a tiny bit abrupt, the way the explosion on the bodice is cut short by the waist seam, so that’s why it’s marked down by one.

    • Elise says

      I wants it! My precious! But…you’re right, since the design is funny between bodice and skirt… 9/10

      • Elise says

        Oh, and Christina Hendricks…I was thinking of a redhead with curves…Maureen O’Hara? Oh! She could pull off last week’s dress!

  3. Yes it’s literal, but sometimes it isn’t a bad thing! This is entirely gorgeous. 9 out 10, I am literally bedazzled! 🙂

  4. Spectacular. Love the effect at the bottom of the skirt, but as with the others, not too sure about the top of the designs.


  5. 9.5/10! I agree with the others; there’s something off at the front waist. And I think I’d prefer to see the back design continue the “lowering” effect of the side front fireworks. But honestly, it’s just amazing.

  6. Julia says

    The pattern is not something I would wear, but nevertheless, this dress is simply stunning. 10/10

  7. Lynne says

    10 out of 10. Love it!

    Plastic! I might be tempted to sneer, but it could actually be a very clever idea. That many glass beads would have dragged the silk down, made it more a solid garment. The plastic beads would leave the lightness and gentle swirl.

    A delightful ‘fun’ garment which is also a very beautiful and timeless dress. The waist-level issues that people have mentioned are very much the style of the time.

    And Cyd Charisse would have looked stunning in the black and gold! I am not normally a jealous woman, but oh, how I’d have loved to have that woman’s legs!

    • Oh, admiring Cyd’s legs is the right kind or jealous! That’s just wanting something truly fabulous – not hating her for having them!

    • Claire Payne says

      I agree. Cyd Charisse would have been stunning in last week’s dress.

    • Daniel says

      I think “plastic” is a very literal summation of whatever the sequins are made of (which could actually be gelatine or celluloid or whatever – “plastic” is just a cover-all term!)

  8. Divine example of a late 1930s number – how frivolous and exciting to wear it to NYE 1939, when they all thought the war would be over in 6 months.
    Not quite flashy enough for Joan Crawford, elegant enough for Norma Shearer, or maybe Joan Fontaine in a racy mood?
    Perfect 10/10 example of its era.

  9. Oh. Oh. Oh my. I’ve never had a rate-the-dress dress cause my jaw to literally drop, but this did! I love the fireworks effect and am just in awe at how gorgeous this is. I am totally giving it a 10/10!

  10. I can’t believe this is from the 1930’s, it seems more modern to me. I can only imagine what this looked like in motion. 10/10.

    • Spot on Carolyn! I think I agree with the others, 9/10 in the photos – but I have a feeling that on a real body it will be absolutely spectacular!

  11. Cornelia Moore says

    meh. cut’s fine, colors are fine, but the theme is poorly done. these are shaggy dog fireworks, looking more like water spouts from a syncronized waterfall than actual fireworks. chrysanthimum explosions done in a more Japanese style would appeal more. not impressed or inspired, just ok, and that’s for the clean cut. sorry, I know everyone else loves the fireworks, but they rub me the wrong way. so 10 for the cut, but 4 for the decor. it’s just that to me it doesn’t look right, doesn’t look like real fireworks, and comes off…furry somehow. sort of looks like an Afghan dog face to me, lol….dunno. maybe I’m just off today…

    • Demented Seamstress says

      I agree, The long sparkly bits on the skirt fall flat.
      The bits around the waist look so awkward and out of place, they remind me of a Dr. Seuss animal with long floppy ears.

      I give it a 7.

  12. This dress is honestly straightforward without any extra chasers and wonderfully done. I love the simple black dress as a base then the flowing shining ribbons of “fireworks”. The dress is classy, fun with enough edge so it doesn’t come off as cheesy or ugly.

  13. I LOVED this dress the moment I saw it. I love the colors popping off the black and especially love the placement of the fireworks.

    I give it a 10 out of 10

  14. Claire Payne says

    I agree with the earlier comments about the waist detail. Somehow it stems the flow of the ‘fireworks’. Being thoroughly over black as part of my wardrobe, the colour instantly puts out my bonfire (even from the designer of the LBD). However, I cannot ignore the fact that this is Chanel and is a wonderful shape (lots of skirt swish I suspect) so for this I give it 8 out of 10.

  15. Tenshi says

    8 out of 10 for reasons mentioned by previous posters. A pity the design does not continue smoothly from top to bottom. Still, it’s a stunning dress and I imagine it to be even mroe so in motion.

  16. Way too litteral! Why have such a gorgeous creation, that one could only wear at new years?
    Makes me think of Händel’s Watermusic….
    The pretty sparkles and all the work that went into it just about drags it to a 7 out of 10 for me.

  17. Russinka says

    9/10 for me, it only lost a point because I actually think it’s a little (tiny bit) tacky to modern eyes BUT in it’s day it would have been stunning and new and different. I’m not overly fond of the shape either (mostly cause I know it wouldn’t suit my figure and I’m just vain enough that it puts me off) but on the right body type it would be stunning!

  18. I think “stunning” is the perfect word for this dress! It is gorgeous and I WANT IT. 10/10 from me!

  19. I adore it. I LOVE the shape at the waist. I love the two downwards black dips over the legs, it is a very sexy line and nice to see something that isn’t just about a central point. I see the shapes of the blck more than the shapes of the sequins and that in itself is an intriguing device.
    It would have been daring and striking then in ways it maybe wouldn’t be now when so much more of 20th C fashion liberalism has flown under the bridge, so to speak.
    9/10 because I really have to take a point off any dress this shape since I think it is a teency bit of a cliche. But only a teency, one point’sworth!

  20. Give it to me, I will wear the (expletive) out of this dress!!! I see what others dislike in it but none of it bothers me. I adore it. 10/10

  21. fidelio says

    Oh, my. 10/10.

    Also, I agree with Cyd as the lady for last week’s dress. She had the legs, the figure, and the coloring for that one.

  22. 8. Fabulous but I don’t like the colors on the black. Seems a bit childish. The detail though (in another color) is fantastic!! Love it.

  23. Wow, I’m late.

    I still almost don’t want to comment on this one; I’m not sure how I feel about it. Maybe I just don’t feel anything about it. I don’t really love it, but I don’t hate it, either. What I’m guessing is beading is somewhat pretty, but I think the placement and design deserved some minor tweaks to make it look amazing. I have to say, though, it would make great New Years dress.

    Six out of ten for potential and meh-ness. 🙁

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