This early 19th century evening dress is made of extremely delicate silk, embroidered with gold sequins and metal thread. It’s a status garment, meant to convey wealth and prestige.
A walking dress was a trainless dress that one could walk in without any part of the dress touching the ground. In an era dominated by horse-drawn vehicles (among other less salubrious refuse that might end up on the streets), the resulting debris picked up by long, trained skirts could be rather foul, and it’s not surprising that the elaborate trains of the 1870s and early 1880s did not last.
This week’s rate the dress illustrates how widespread the global textile trade was in the mid-19th century, and how a dress worn in Europe or the Americas might be made from fabric woven in China. It also brings up an interesting discussion of how Asian fashion and textiles have been perceived, and pigeonholed, in the West.