This week’s Rate the Dress moves away from the fitted bodices with fabric poofs of the last two, to a sleek silhouette, with visual interest provided by embroidery.
It’s an interesting garment from both a design perspective, and as a historical artefact. I hope you enjoy discussing it!
Last week: a 1780s gown in buttercup yellow
Reactions to last week’s yellow Italian gown were a distinct improvement on the week before. It was described as “delightful and “a lovely summery garment”. A few people didn’t like it though, either for the colour, or too much poof. And almost everyone felt that the ruffle placements on the petticoat was rather odd.
The Total: 8.1 out of 10
Good, but not brilliant.
This week: a 1920s dress with pink peonies.
This 1920s dress was worn by Australian socialite Molly Fink, whose 1915 marriage to Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman, the Raja of Pudukkottai, caused social scandal and political censure.
The marriage challenged the British Government’s attempts to keep Indian and European colonists in India socially separate. They refused to recongise the marriage and acknowledge Molly as Rani. The Tondmain’s settled in Australia, and then France, and the Raja was eventually forced to renounce his position in favour of his brother.
This dress dates from the Tondmain’s time in France. Despite being essentially forced into exile by the British government, they remained friends with a wide circle of British nobility, artists, and literary figures. They were received by George V and Queen Mary, and socialised with siblings Cecil and Nancy Beaton as well as Elsa Maxwell and William Locke.
Molly was noted for her elegant dress, and this frock, by eminent French couturier’s Callot Soeurs, reflects her interest in fashion.
The dress is one of a series of frocks featuring embroidery and beading based on Chinese export garments that Callot Soeurs did in the mid-1920s.
While Callot Soeurs probably did not intend it, and Molly herself may not have made the link, the dress also references Indian design. The trade in fabrics from China through India from the 16th century onward influence motifs in Indian palampore. Motifs from Chinese painted silks were incorporated into Indian chintzes, and both made their way to Europe Note the stylised rocky ground with lush flowers springing from it in both Molly’s dress and this 16th century palampore and the one linked above.
What do you think? A worthy dress for a noted fashionista, with a small but subtle not to the country she was forever linked with, but could never call home?
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.