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Rate the Dress: Lucile does lace and roses

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

The last few dresses I’ve shown you were so crisp and precise, almost clinically perfect, even if you didn’t necessarily think they were attractive.  I decided it was time to find something a little softer, with a bit of layering and randomness.  And who better fits that bill than Lucile, the designer who made layering, embellishment, and a blurred line between lingerie (late Edwardian style) and luxurious partywear her calling card?

Last Week: an 1880s reception gown in two parts

Last week’s dress really boiled down to: were you team bows, or team no bows?  Team bows thought the bows tied the dress together, and cleverly hid the problem often caused by 1880s front ruched skirts (aka, what’s the point of the ruching?).  Team no bows…just didn’t like them.

FTR, I’m from Hawai’i, so obviously I’m team bows #letsgobows

There was also some discussion of whether the train made sense or not, if the bodice and skirt made sense together, and lace colour.

The Total: 7.5 out of 10

A teeny tiny improvement on the week before, but hardly what could be called a roaring success.

This week: A Lucile evening dress in tulle, lace and satin

This Lucile gown was sold at auction a few years back, and definitely wasn’t in the best condition.  Some of its embellishments are crumpled or missing, and there are marks and stains (most obviously at the underarms)

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Despite the condition issues, I think the design intent of the gown is still clearly visible. It features Lucile’s characteristic layering of fabrics and textures, with multiple layers and hues of delicate tulle and detailed beading over lace over lush satin over yet another layer of embroidered and appliquéd lace.

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

The mix of subtly blended colours: sky blue and evening purple with pinks, yellows and greens in the flowers, is a classic Lucile touch.  It’s experimental and inventive without relying on vivid, loud colours.

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

The dress is notable for featuring one of Lucile’s most famous touches: pulled up or slit skirts which revealed large expanses of [stockinged] legs.  Lucile said “If I never did anything else in my life, I showed that a woman’s leg can be a thing of beauty, instead of a ‘limb,’ spoken of only in the privacy of a fitting room.”

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

While her ‘mannequins’ may have shown off the full length of stocking, Lucile’s clients inevitably chose a more modest version of the look, with layers of lace and tulle keeping the legs rather more discreetly veiled.    That’s exactly what this dress shows, with a froth of lace and ribbon embellished tulle obscuring the opening of the picked up skirts.

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

Evening gown, silk satin and silk net, with appliqués and beading, Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon, ca. 1914, sold by Augusta Auctions

What do you think?  This dress is classic 1914, and classic Lucile, with every possible embellishment of the era.  Does it work?

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.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. 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.

25 Comments

  1. Heather says

    This dress has such lovely dreamy, soft, relaxed vibes for such a fancy piece. I think the color combo is lovely and can definitely picture it in a less worn, newer state in my mind!
    9/10

  2. Vicki Jane says

    Can you imagine just how divine this would have been new? Just lovely. 10

  3. I .love the silhouette and the range of fabrics and the artful draping and the beaded trim, everything EXCEPT the roses, which strike me as being one element too many. Everything else is clean lines, but the rose appliques just look lumpy.

    8.5 of 10

  4. Elaine says

    I love the colors and embellishments. The dress appears to fit so closely toward the bottom that I wonder how anyone could walk in this. But maybe that is just how it appears, and actually the lifted skirt would have allowed plenty of room to walk. 9/10.

  5. The color scheme–exquisite, fit for a goddess of the air. The handwork–stunning. The little flowers are beautiful, and the beading is deployed in tiny touches that really make the dress. I’m not fond of hobble styles, but this dress is beautiful enough to overcome my objections. I don’t care for the clump of roses in the center front across the beaded band on the skirt, but the other views are exquisitely tasteful, including the back view.

    9.5 out of 10

  6. Nanny Norfolk says

    In two minds about this, some things I love the colours for instance, the silhouette and the back view is fabulous. Plus the embellishments on the sleeves and on the dress are lovely.
    Just don’t like the roses or the Lacey bottom. But it must have looked wonderful when new.
    9/10

  7. I squealed…I love Lucile!
    The back is exquisite and I am going to riff on the sleeve embellishment one day
    I love the tiny beads on the sash.
    I can see the dress glittering in candlelight
    The front of the dress does seam a bit bedraggled but I am putting that down to 100 years of improper storage
    10/10

  8. nofixedstars says

    love this dress! the 19-noughts and teens are my favourite period. such a shame about its condition. i am not usually a big pastels person, but the delicacy of this—especially by candlelight—is just charming. there is a similar dress i’ve seen frequently on the internet that is very similar to this one, only in violets and deep blues with dark trims…that is my dream evening frock from the period. if it’s not by lucille, it’s awfully similar. those deep purple-blue harmonies haunt my dreams, but i would not turn down a replica of this one!

    it’s such a perfect exemplar of the moment, and so sheerly lovely: a sartorial confection.

    rating: 10/10

  9. Alice says

    Beautiful gown–I love the fabrics and the colors. My only quibble is it seems overkill to have both the gauzy overskirt and the gathered underskirt. I’d eliminate the overskirt if I were the client. Still, a lovely dress. 8 out of 10.

  10. kathy in KY says

    I recall the classic advice about how much jewelry to wear: before you leave the house, take off one piece. I would quick scrap the lace at the bottom — not only does it not go with anything else in the dress, but imagine how filthy it would be after mopping the floor as you walk. I like the roses, and before I threw out the bottom lace I would cut off the little flowers and save them for another day.

    Not crazy about the floating panel, which I gather is supposed to fasten to the wrist, but at least it’s plain. I give it an 8.5

  11. JessieRoo says

    Normally I love 1910’s evening gowns, and this one has a lot of nice elements. Yet, it looks a bit slapdash. Though each is nice, some of the elements are too disparate or too fussy to work with the rest. Someone on FB mentioned that this dress made them think of spring. It makes me think of spring too; spring’s awkward arrival, when flowers just begin to bloom out from the dirty slush surrounding them. Winter is lovely and spring is lovely, but the intersection of the two is drab and disheartening and not at all pretty (at least where I’m from). That’s how I feel about this dress. I think it would be much more successful without the colorful rosettes, or conversely, with the rosettes, but none of the cold blue border applique on the tunic and sleeve hems. The back is quite nice though!

    4/10

  12. Penny says

    I love it. I think the embellishments all work together very nicely. It’s so elegant and lovely. 10/10.

    Is the under-bodice a strapless corset type thing? Or does it connect to the sleeve lining and shoulders?

  13. Lisa A says

    I’m a big fan of this silhouette, but somehow I think there are too many different elements or maybe they don’t work as well together as I would like. When I saw the photo, I felt the need to examine and identify each part to make sense of it, like a checklist: “Oh, okay, that’s beading,” “That’s an appliqué,” “There is some lace,” and so forth. I wouldn’t want to wear a checklist dress. 7

  14. Claire Payne says

    Oho! A Lucille! Well this dress had me enthralled to the knees then oh la la! It all went wrong. The ruching ruins this dress for me and that lacey net sticking out just doesn’t work at all. My first thought was “tripping hazard.” Such a pity as I love the colours, the layers and the general waftiness of it all. It looks better from the back. The embellishments are lovely and I like the fabrics. I just can’t get over the ruching and net to give it more than

    7 out of 10

  15. Margot says

    Would be a 10 without the addition covering the legs, tho the material/lace is beautiful. The way it is runched up at the front is divine.

  16. Kathy Hanyok says

    I love the roses! And up close I love the beading on the sleeves. I’m not sure whether these elements blend well together, but I do admire this gown. I am not familiar with Lucile. Thank you for introducing us.9/10

  17. Haven’t seen a Lucille dress in a while. The colors and the lights and shadows created by the layers and the fringe– like golden rain — and beaded spots on the sash are so beautiful. The leaflike trim in the gunmetal satin is too.

    From there, the dress elements diverge and become overloaded. I cannot help but wonder if the tulle and lace insertion underlayer was chosen by the client. The lace is traditionally patterned and doesn’t play all that well with the other more organic trim. The ribbon embroidery work — eh, it was such the thing those decades, and the dress might have well been named Flora to evoke a Grecian nymph. You know, April showers and vlue and purple skies bring May flowers and all that. The wearer’s coiffure may well have been one of the popular Grecian styles with ribbon bands. Can’t you see it?

    However, I wish Lucille had riffed instead off the other trim, creating leafy appliques in gunmetal and beads where the ribbon work is, and using bead-spotted and ribbon-banded tulle at the bottom to echo that at the waist. It might have worked better, at least to our eyes?

    Then the dress might be called April Evening Shower. A little more moody 🙂

    Still and all, an 8 of 10 for mostly lovely and subtle effects

  18. Cirina says

    I would chop off all the flowers and the lace underlayer. In my eyes, it clashes with everything else.

    7.5

  19. Emma Louise says

    Those underarm sweat patches has me imaging that the wearer had a great time partying hard all night! As for the design: I love the back view, but like some of the other reviewers I’m less sure about the flowers and lace insert.
    8/10

  20. PepperReed says

    9.5/10

    Just a beautiful dream. To see this worn when new would be amazing. Half point deducted for the lace bottom — I wish there was a bit of it else where to tie it in to the dress better, but overall still very lovely.

  21. Jane Craven says

    I like this dress and I wonder if the frothy lace at the base has changed colour over time do, its not quite the shade it was. I also wonder if the wearer felt the dress was a little too short for their taste, so used the lace petticoat look to give it the appearance of more length? I love the robbon flower embellishments too. Rating 8/10

  22. Puffles says

    I adore this dress, I’m partial to layering and lace – however, like someone mentioned above, I don’t love the roses, particularly the arch on the bodice. I don’t think it flows with the other lines. I don’t mind them so much on the lace, but they still feel like something of an afterthought.
    However, all of that is outweighed by my love of the blue appliques on the sleeve and hem. I think the texture and colour give the dress a lovely floral feel while still working with the rest of the design.
    overall, 9.5

  23. Catherine says

    I don’t even like 1910s dresses, and I love this. The colors are beautiful, the lace revealed by the pinned-up skirts is gorgeous, and the only thing I’m not as sure about is the placement of the appliqued flowers.
    9.5

  24. Johanne says

    As Catherine Raymond said, “. . . exquisite, fit for a goddess of the air.” I feel as if I am out of breath when I see this dress. It is ethereal.

    10/10

  25. ElOmbu says

    I’d wear it in a heartbeat. I love this period and i love all the too muchness of this one.
    10

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