Last week I showed you an 1880s gown in persimmon orange brocade with a slightly historical flavour. While orange can be tricky, the fabric was generally popular. The sleeves, however, were generally un-popular, and most opinions found it very nice, but not spectacular. A few of you loved it, but a few of you hated it, balancing the rating at a 7.1 out of 10 – which seems a pretty fair assessment of the general feeling toward it.
Since the warm persimmon orange of last week’s frock was so popular last week, I thought I’d stay in the warm, autumn-y colour range for this week’s Rate the Dress. This ca. 1775 robe a la francaise from the MFA Boston features a busy cotton print with a dark red ground. The MFA have chosen to pair the dress with a cream border printed (or painted) cotton petticoat.
Cotton was still a luxury fabric in the last quarter of the 18th century, and the heavy glazed cotton of this dress was likely to have been a particularly expensive cotton: dark red grounds were generally more expensive than light coloured grounds. The very desirable fabric may explain the unusual juxtaposition of the fabric and the more formal dress style: cotton robe a la francaise are quite rare compared to silk. Cotton fabric was more likely to be used for slightly less formal dress styles, like robe a la anglaise.
While the petticoat that the MFA have paired the gown with was probably not worn with it originally, it’s in keeping with the luxurious gown: the border printed fabric of the petticoat would have been equally expensive, and equally exotic and novel.
The mannequin may be slightly distracting, but hopefully you can look past it to envision what the ensemble might have looked like in 1775. With that in mind, what do you think of it? Beautiful use of a busy but very ‘of its time’ pattern, or cluttered and fussy?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10