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Rate the Dress: Edwardian Metallics

Evening dress by Augusta Lundin, 1913, Sweden, silk georgette with gold, silver and copper silk thread embroidery, lamé, velvet, gold lace, chiffon, satin, Göteborgs Stadsmuseum

I’m  currently choosing fabrics for costume designs in bronze and copper, so this week’s Rate the Dress seemed perfectly in keeping with my mental design board.  Or, mostly in line!  The designs I’m working with are very aged and worn; all verdigris and corrosion.  In contrast, this week’s 1910s evening dress is all crisp and polished, almost bright and shiny as the day it was made.  Will you like it?

Last Week: a pink and black striped 1890s reception dress

A very mixed reaction to last week’s Rate the Dress.  Everything from ‘smitten’ to ‘just no’, and every descriptor from ‘restrained’ to ‘exuberant.

Those who didn’t like it weren’t sure about the pink and black though: was the pink to pale to hold its own? And they definitely weren’t in love with the sleeves (I suspect they were a lot better when they were new).

Those who did like it liked it because it was such a perfect exemplar of the 1890s, or in spite of the fact that it was 1890s…in other words, for every possible completely contradictory reason!

The Total: 7.7 out of 10

A slight improvement on the week before.

This week: A 1910s evening dress in copper and bronze

It’s pretty amazing that this 1910s evening dress is only separated from last week’s dress by 30 years.  The fabrics, silhouette, and design aesthetic are all strikingly different.  In contrast, my students today are all wearing clothes that are basically identical to what was worn 30 years ago (in fact, a lot of them are literally identical – late ’90s ‘vintage’ is all the rage amongst the hip young things who were wearing diapers when these garments were first sold!)

Evening dress by Augusta Lundin, 1913, Sweden, silk georgette with gold, silver and copper silk thread embroidery, lamé, velvet, gold lace, chiffon, satin, Göteborgs Stadsmuseum

Evening dress by Augusta Lundin, 1913, Sweden, silk georgette with gold, silver and copper silk thread embroidery, lamé, velvet, gold lace, chiffon, satin, Göteborgs Stadsmuseum

While this dress is radically new compared to the 1890s silhouette, it is nostalgic in its own right; the silhouette and decorations look back to Ancient Greece and Rome.  The sleeves, banded overtunic, and bodice girdle are all re-interpretations of classical dress. It’s characteristic of the 1910s take on Hellenic styles that this dress is coloured, turning its wearer into a goddess in bronze and copper, rather than a marble statue in white.

What do you think?  Would Venus herself have envied the wearer of this frock?

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.

41 Comments

  1. Divine. If this was the only dress I ever got to look at I would be happy. Is it one of Queen Maud of Norway’s? I confess, her whole wardrobe from this time makes me happy. I still think your moth dress is one of the most beautiful costumes I’ve ever seen.
    10/10 but I would say 120/10 if that were a thing. <3

  2. Anna Maxwell says

    I really like it. Cohesive design and very elegant. I would love to wear it. 10/10

  3. wendy says

    this reminds me of fortuny. i love the colors and the overall shape.

    solid 10

  4. nofixedstars says

    a gorgeous frock from my favourite fashion period…stunning. i love everything about it, and wouldn’t tweak a thing.

    rating: 10/10

  5. Theresa Diaz says

    I adore it. The color is so rich, the design emphasizes the fabric. The trim is stunning. It’s perfect.
    10/10

  6. I love the basic silhouette, colorway, fabrics, and the pattern on the metallic(?) trim.

    However, there is one thing that bothers me – the shape of the bodice girdle – it somehow feels put on upside down to me.

    9 of 10

    • kathy in KY says

      I agree about the upside-down effect of the bodice. Seems like putting your most gorgeous trim onto the bottom slope of the bust is kind of wasted except for very flat-chested ladies. What would it look and feel like when the busty wearer sits down??? Other than that, what a fabulous, gorgeous dress!!!! I want one. 9.5

  7. Michelle says

    I love everything about this dress…color, materials, style….
    10/10

  8. This is lovely! I see absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t wear or don’t like. 10/10 and I’d like one for myself, please.

    Best,
    Quinn

  9. Nancy Tomashesi says

    Stunning.
    I don’t even really have a comment. I just love everything about it.
    10!

  10. Amy Davidoff says

    A stunner of a dress. Did the silk come from Fortuny? I’d love this in my collection. I didn’t know anyone else in that period knew how to do the micropleating.

    10/10

  11. Copper and gold–two of my favorite colors!–with a beautiful silhouette in gorgeous fabrics and just the right amount of decoration. (In fact, I knew as soon as a glimpsed it, before I looked at the details, that I had to give it a 10.)

    10 out of 10.

  12. Claire Irvine says

    I absolutely adore this, I would wear this in a heartbeat
    10/10

  13. Kathy Hanyok says

    This gown is an absolute gem! Like Mrs.C, I could admire it forever. Thank you for a beautiful Monday! 10

  14. Jamie j LaMoreaux says

    is 100 possible? I love it x10. what a wonderful way to start a Monday, by seeing this dress perfection.

  15. Elaine says

    I love the colors and the fabric. Very elegant! I’m not too sure about the neckline, but that is a minor quibble. 9.5/10

  16. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Wow! That is so carefully controlled lushness, the perfect cut and detailing for the era … and I look really GOOD in that color.

    10

  17. Terese Damhøj Ommen says

    Wow! Normally I just read and don’t comment, but that dress is a Wonder. 10/10!

  18. Emma Louise says

    I love it! & I actually think it would suit me. I wish I could see the back too.
    10/10

  19. Lillianne says

    Oh gosh, I really love this dress. I don’t have the height to do it justice but my daughter does and she has lovely red hair that is the perfect shade to go with this elegant gown. I can just picture her in it. 10/10

  20. Kim Kingston-Durgin says

    Absolutely stunning. It looks like it was just delivered from the dressmakers. 10/10.

  21. Andrew says

    Beautiful! Stunning! Astonishing! Show-stopper! Magnificent! Marvelous! This dress is beyond words! Its so powerful that it made me comment on this site when I never did it before! 10/10

  22. Alissa says

    I love the skirt, and the trim, and I looove that the sleeves aren’t “droopy Edwardian”. But my goodness, if I don’t just want to yank that center trim off and sew it back on an inch lower! The proportion seems off to me.

    I feel bad doing this since it will be the lowest score (so far)!
    8/10

  23. Susan Golian says

    Splendid – elegant and unfussy – the underlying principles of my own fashion sensibilities. I would happily wear this tonight.

    The decoration on the bodice is awkward, but perhaps it was absolutely perfect on the original wearer.

    The colours and fabrics are sumptuous. I love it.

    9.5/10

  24. Lisa says

    WOW. Interesting to see that how the handling of certain elements makes all the difference. In other dresses, sometimes the horizontal line of an overskirt makes a dress seem blocky, but here the tiny downward curve of the overskirt at the sides, and the overall muted harmony of trim to the main fabric, makes that line perfectly acceptable, if not perfect. Likewise, sometimes I don’t care for an entirely separate trim used at the neckline or bodice, especially if the same color or trim is not used elsewhere. But here, the simplicity of that inner band of cream with just the touch of bronze on the edge means it is not overdone or in too much contrast to the rest of the dress. I could go on and on, but: 10!!!

  25. Carol from Cambridge says

    I don’t usually comment, but have follow RTD for several months. This dress is absolutely stunning in its ornate simplicity. May I have one in navy with silver trim? 10/10

  26. AnnaKareninaHerself says

    Oh I love it. I can see this working beautifully for women of colour, too . Actually it’d be flattering for so many different types of women. That’s the first time ever I’m giving a dress a 10/10. It’s stunning.

  27. Stéphanie says

    These are SO not my colours, but I love this dress. This is most uncharacteristic for me, because I typically don’t like anything coppery or bronze. However, this may be the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. The whole dress is so harmonious and so liquid looking. It makes me think of either a bronze goddess or a fairy. It radiates authority and benevolence for me and I can see it on a mature woman. If I went to a party and the hostess was wearing this, I think that I would immediately feel welcome and relaxed. 10/10

  28. Veronica says

    I’ll take one please. I love the texture contrasts, and while I concur with others that some small details in the trim arrangement might not the most flattering, I really like the cohesive look of the dress. This blog post has just sparked a week-long dive into early teens fashion and a definite I-want-to-make-a-dress-of-the-period …
    Am I allowed to take a punt and predict the rating will be the hallowed above-9.7?

    10/10

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