Holiday party season has just stepped into high gear here in Wellington, and every venue in town is booked out for the rest of the month. My seasonal event schedule is sadly lacking in soirees that call for elegant frocks, but I’ve been doing fantasy event shopping in various museum’s collections, finding dresses that I would DEFINITELY wear had I the occasion, and ones that I want to show you, to see what you think of them. So the next few weeks are going to feature event-worthy (well, maybe) party dresses.
Last week: a bright spring green pelisse
Mixed reviews for last week’s dress, with bonus points for some people because the dress looked like a historical superhero costume!
I was really intrigued by all the speculation of who it would look good on, and the claims that most women couldn’t carry it off. Though it’s not easy to find, the pelisse’s fresh green colour looks really good on me – and is one I think of as very flattering on most women, at least in the historical sense of flattering (tends to make them look pale and mysterious, and the emphasise the contrast between skin and lips).
The Total: 8.3 out of 10
Exactly the same as the week before!
This week: a bright orange silk and embroidered net party frock from 1916
To start off my showcase of historical party dresses that a guest could wear to one of those historical extravaganzas I wish I could go to, I’ve chosen a frock from my favourite fashion year: 1916.
This dress would definitely benefit from a good steam, and the proper undergarments (a bit more petticoat-age in particular), but the basic essence of the design, and of the impact the dress would have had on the dancefloor, is still obvious.
Like many 1910s dresses, this evening gown combines two contrasting design ideas: a bold colour, and delicate layering, with each element of the dress revealing subtle detailing.
The skirt is made of three layers of net, each embroidered with silvery threads. The topmost layer of elaborately worked net is almost completely hidden by the overskirt of vivid orange silk, and would only be revealed as the dress moved and swayed around the wearer.
The orange silk, vibrant as it is, is not left alone to speak for itself. Instead, it features panels of heavy beading, with pearl and glass beads of different sizes, and chenille embroidery, forming forming floral and geometric patterning down the front and back of the dress.
The silver, orange, and white of the dress is offset with a splash of black in the form of a corsage of black velvet and aigrette feathers pinned to the waist.
The whole dress is a play on contrasts: muted and vibrant, bold and subtle, delicate and robust, fitted and voluminous.
The Goldstein Museum of Design website has some excellent images of the layers of the dress, and how it opens, which I highly recommend checking out if you’re interested in historical dress construction.
What do you think of it?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
A reminder about rating — feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting. It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.
(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5. I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it! And 0 is not on a scale of 1 to 10. Thanks in advance!)