Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Lanvin does 1910s poofs

Last week’s crazy floral border print 1860s Rate the Dress certainly evoked a range of responses, and some interesting speculation on how much the ensemble had been altered, and when.  One thing you could almost all agree on was that the bodice was a bit blocky and awkward, but other than that there was no consensus.  Some of you LOVED the skirt fabric so much the bodice didn’t matter, some of you hated the fabric full stop, and some of you thought the fabric was amazing, but that it couldn’t make up for the terrible bodice.  All in all, the dress came in at a very disappointing 6.3 out of 10, showing that fashion has to be a bit more restrained and a bit better  made to get the nod from more of  you voters.

This week I present a dress with two sets of images: one, carefully presented and perfectly steamed and arranged into shape, and another, an excellent set of reference images, clearer and brighter, but lacking the elegant crispness of the first.  It’s an excellent opportunity to see a dress prettily staged, in a way few institutions have the resources to achieve, and in the raw, with all the ravages of time visible.

This Lanvin dress, shown first in perfect presentation, is characteristic of her very soft, whimsical, feminine style, and her interest in history.

While the overall silhouette, raised waistline and asymmetrically wrapped skirt of this evening dress are typical of the 1910s, Lanvin took her inspiration from the fashions of the second half of the  18th century for the details of the garment.  The black tulle peeking from the sleeves is reminiscent of engageantes, and the layers of the draped surplice bodice evoke a fichu.  The puffed overskirt is a reference to the poofs and drapes of a bustle over-skirt.

What do you think?  The first image gives a better picture of how the dress would have looked when first worn, the second may help explain the details.  It’s certainly a quirky frock, but does quirk have it’s own charm, and is this a case when it keeps fashion history interesting and unique?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10


  1. Rachel says

    It has a loose blousy top! I’m supposed to hate it, but I don’t. I really like how the dress plays with both shape and color, sectioning itself off abruptly but still maintaining its softness with its long curving lines – the wrap effect of the skirt, the overskirt’s puffiness, the long notches in the sleeves. I love the sleeves! And I like that it’s plain net instead of lace – it adds contrast without making the dress seem heavy.

    I’d love it more if the top had more structure – some sort of embellishments to the shoulders and the skirt’s hem, because it feels a bit vague and unfinished. But there’s still something appealing in how flowing and uncluttered it is, despite the complex silhouette.


  2. I like the overall impression and how it’s reminiscent of classical garments. The pale honey color is lovely.

    I tend to hate modern versions of balloon skirts, but for some reason I find the balloon hem of the tunic charming.

    The only thing I don’t care for is the black sleeve flounce – it strikes me as being too much.

    8 of 10

  3. Julia Ergane says

    I like the draping of the dress. It looks a bit like the ancient Greek peplos with the addition of the extra flounces on the sleeves and skirt, as described. I am a lover of ancient Greek/Roman dress. The black net is interesting. I would be interested in seeing it with a netted lace with a Key or Acanthus border to highlight the Greek theme. My rating is 9/10
    PS: I do love Lanvin’s frocks. It is too bad that My Sin is no longer available (tears — it is/was one of my favourite perfumes).

  4. gogmsite.netThe top reminds me of a late 17th century posing gown. In fact, add a bit of lace and few pearls and it’s Madame de Montespan’s dress. But aside from that the top looks both classy and comfortable. In fact, it might be the ultimate lounge wear since you could it wear it as pyjamas as well as something suitable formal for the Queen’s birthday gala dinner.

    Unfortunately, this dress does not end at the top. And from the hips downwards, it’s just missing the “oomph” to balance all this other stuff at the top. It’s too plain or has not enough volume… I don’t actually what’s missing but it is missing. 8/10.

  5. Oh, dear.

    I *hate* this one. Even in the first, well-presented image, this looks to me like a Halloween costume, It looks like something a well-meaning mom might whip up for an eager daughter, with pale peach and orange bedsheet poufs and black tulle, and a bunch of fake flowers (fruit?) salvaged from an earlier project. The stacked puffs and the pleated tulle bunches hanging from the sleeves add up to a silhouette that would not be flattering on any figure. Worse still (for a designer garment) it does not even look well-crafted, though I bet a many a 6-11 year old would fancy herself as graceful as the Roman goddess Flora in it.

    It may well incorporate a lot of clever references to earlier historical styles, but in my opinion the first responsibility of a designer is to make a garment that is attractive and will look well on its wearer. A 2 out of 10.

  6. This dress is certainly unique, and is interesting from the historical fashion perspective. From a “do I actually like this fashion?”, I have to say I don’t. I can’t decide what the poof from the waist and the hip reminds me of, but I just think it looks funny. The netting is certainly not as heavy as a lace would be, but it looks a little odd sticking out of the sleeves. Well, that is my two cents worth. I have to say that the color is pretty and works well with black. 3/10


  7. Was a bit thrown by the founding date, but I guess they’re counting Lanvin’s millinery establishment as early Lanvin. Not really a fan of this particular dress – maybe when it was much newer and crisper and bouncier – but it generally does little for me. I want to like it more, but it looks bunchy and awkward to me, and the pale yellow is a bit insipid. The net accents also seem a bit nothingy – just plain net? Plus the berry accent doesn’t quite sync with anything. It’s a cute dress, but generally, a sense of off about every detail I’m afraid. Rating? Um. Gonna say 4.5/10, Lanvin hadn’t found her metier yet with this dress and I know she can and has done LOTS much better.

  8. I should love this – I love Lanvin – but it’s reminding me of a paper bag. Agreed: earlier Lanvin, waiting to find the way forwards. I’m giving it a 5.

  9. apricots says

    It looks very comfortable and I like the slit sleeves (interesting without being over the top), the structure of the belted waist to keep it looking smart, the way the colour and the draping work together. The v-neck front and back adds interest, although I suspect it wouldn’t sit right on the front if you were well-endowed.

    However, the black tulle neeting thing is just odd- surely it would be uncomfortable in the sleeves, and it just looks vague and cheap in the skirt. It doesn’t look finished on the edge and brings the look down for me. Maybe some kind of lace would have looked better? I’m not sure.

    Despite those quibbles it looks like nice comfortable eveningwear, so I’m giving it an 8.

    • apricots says

      Had another look at the top, the draping might still work for the busty? Hmm.

    • About the tulle – this is silk tulle, which is very, very soft, and not at all scratchy like modern nylon tulles. So it wouldn’t be uncomfortable in the sleeves.

  10. I would also really love to love this one but there’s just something not quite right about it. Or, perhaps, something missing. This Lanvin really, really needs to be on an actual lady to get the full effect and I think it would be just so much lovelier. The dummy really takes away from the gown, perhaps distracting somehow.
    Alas…looking at it as it is right there in the photograph I think I would like it better if it was sleeveless and the hem straight instead of curved about.
    6/10 (until I see it on a real lady).

  11. Kathryn says

    Ok. The sleeves are really cool, and I love that she was experiementing with earlier eras in her fashion. I used to do the same thing in fashion school-incorporate Lanvin and Poiret-era touches into my modern work. So it delights me that she did it too.

    Buuuuut, sleeves aside, this does feel sort of like freshman student work (or at least *my* freshman student work! Lol) So many ideas, and she had to try them all out in one single dress! I think I’ve made that critique of another dress from the same era on here before, which is odd for me becaue I do love this time period. But the social context of the 1910s lent itself to a great deal of new fashion experimentation and fresh ideas, so I shouldn’t be surprised that not all of it was successful.

    Anyway, my biggest critique is of the skirt-the bubble skirt/tulle combo is cool, but the proportions are off to me. A longer, drapier bubble would look better, I think, as would a lower hem on the black tulle. A commenter above said the tulle would look better if it were finished in some way. I definitely agree. I love that she was trying some crazy ideas, and she got halfway there in terms of success, which merits some points. 7/10

    • Kathryn says

      Oh yeah, and I forgot to say I really love that belt. It’s charming.

  12. Buttercup says

    There is something not quite right about this dress. I like the bodice and the sleeves but I do not like the skirt. For me it’s a 3 out of ten.

  13. I really don’t like the hip bag or the black net under it, the bodice is fine for the era, but I just can’t get past that bag. 4/10

  14. As I was scrolling down, I saw the bodice at first and thought “Oh! Pretty!” and then came the skirt. Not only does it make the dress look like puffed out bedsheets, it just doesn’t do well for anyone’s form. High waistline and puffy around the middle? No, thank you. I think it would MUCH better, if the black net came down from the waistline and over the skirt in an open front, a-line fashion. Basically, get rid of the flotation device in the middle and this would be a rather lovely dress. As is, 4 out of 10.

  15. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    It’s a good example of the stylish dresses of the era – lots of hip detail and floof paired with a slim hemline.

    I’d give it a 6

  16. I’m going to be contrary and say I adore this frock! I’ve been going through a yellow phase lately, so this colour is really doing something for me. And I’m a slut for silk tulle. I really like the little strawberries?/flowers? at the waist. I’m not sure I would wear it myself, but 9/10

  17. Yvette says

    This is a very dowdy dress. It looks like it doesn’t do the lady any complementary favors . If I was to give it a modern day excuse it would be that it was an experimental dress of crossing asian/oriental features with a small shock of raw edges. I give this quizzical dress a 8 because Im sure this dress looks great on someone or it would make you feel at least somewhat decent on “those” kinda feminine days.

  18. I much prefer the one you made that was similar in the honey silk. I do like it, there’s something a bit mad about this era that appeals to me, but I am not in love. 7/10

  19. Anna says

    The upper part of dress is voluminous and rich, but then you look down, at the skirt that , in comparison looks too simple . There no volume to balance the silhouette, no beading, no applique, no lace, no embroidery to balance the look despite unproportional silhouette. And this tulle looks unfinished at the bottom. But in the end i think this dress would look wearable with just a few adjustments. 4,5/10

  20. India says

    A late one: I’ve come back and forth to this dress umpteen times. First I liked it and then I didn’t and then I liked it again ……. pretty much for all the positive and negative reasons everyone else has given. Overall I think I’m coming down slightly on the positive side mostly because I think I’d quite contentedly have worn itif I’d been alive then although I doubt it would have been a favourite. So maybe an on the fence 6.5/10?c

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