This antique gown is authentic European Couture gown, circa 1912. It is a superb example of late Edwardian, fashion. This is a lavishly beaded, sumptuous silk, floor length gown, with train. Very Downton Abbey season 1.
It is a wearable size and is so, Maggie Smith / Violet of Downton Abbey. All you would need is a tall walking stick to be a stand-in on the series.
Measurements in inches: Bust 34 -35, Empire waist 32, natural waist line 36, hip up to 42, across upper back shoulders 16.5, around the neck is 13.5, sleeves from shoulder to hem are 22.5, Length from shoulder to front is 57, length from shoulder to back hem of the train is 68 inches.
The couturier label, sewn onto the Petersham reads: Hoflieferant, Leiste Badach Wiesden. Literally translated from the German, Holflieerant is " Purveyors to the Imperial and Royal Court". The crest at the left of the words was bestowed upon those who supplied goods and services to the Imperial and Royal court of Austria-Hungary in Vienna. From my research I find this couturier design house did not survive World War I.
As a couturier gown, it is a ONE OF. That is, this one gown was designed and made for a specific client. There were no copies. This gown was commissioned in Vienna Austria before World War I. It was built for a woman who attended court functions or was connected to the Royal court of Austria at the time.
The all silk gown with raised waistline was made to give a column or empire silhouette. The silhouette looks to the fashion history of Paul Poiret established after 1908 when "S" corseting was abandoned for the longer, slimmer lines that followed the Victorian era.
The waistline was raised until it was a column like empire line after the styles designed by Paul Poiret. Because of his influence, after 1907 fashion history looked toward a new direction when a longer line corset became fashionable. The corset almost reaching the knees was intended to make the figure look slimmer. Women of means who were on the Titanic in 1912 may well have worn gowns based on similar designs.
This INTRICATELY built dress is made in layers of the finest silk, both sheer and satin. It is LAVISHLY BEADED both front and back and on the sleeves. The gown is hand sewn and hand beaded. With couture crafting it is an AMAZING work of art!
The bodice features hand made lace over illusion netting, trapunto quilting in gold bullion thread with beading and embroidery over the net in an elegant Art Nouveau motif. The high neckline, lined in net and reinforced with boning is covered with lace and bullion embroidery.
The floor length skirt with back train is attached to the bodice above the natural waistline. Three rows of trapunto quilting give accent to the waist line.
There is a net shawl and panel attachment (over dress) that forms caps at the shoulders. This over dress decoration falls to mid calf, both front and back. All edges are COMPLETELY HAND BEADED with jet beads. The remainder of the over dress is netting. It covers the gown from the shoulders to mid calf.
The wrist length sleeves are done in three layers. The top layer is bloused with a wide band of beading near the hem. The second layer is solid silk. The final layer, that extends to the wrist is net with a wide band of beading that covers the cuff (and covers snaps). The beading extends up the arm to the elbow. The beaded panels are 4 - 6 inches wide.
It closes with with an intricate arrangement of hooks-and-eyes and snaps. The inner bodice has its own hooks-and-eyes. The petersham at the empire wast also closes with hooks. This gives stability to the overall fit. There is boning at several places inside the lining. The hemlines are weighted.
A note about the bead work. Many sizes and shapes of jet beading were used. This is jet beading. Not perfect, a few missing. Amazing work and rare to find so much real jet.
There is a profusion of faceted, triangular, round, bugle and seed beads. There are flat platelettes, triangular shaped jet that form squares. A large display at the back uses square jet beads to form a large triangle focal point. From this hang tassels and beaded balls. This beaded area hangs 12 inches! This design is repeated at the bottom of the FRONT PANELS.
Condition: The fabric is very strong overall. There is a fist size tear in the VERY UNDERSKIRT lining. There are some 4 or 5 small discolorations on the outer layer of the dress. These are perhaps water marks? They vary in size from a pea to a quarter. I do not have the expertise to treat them. They are just off color a bit. There are some missing a/o broken beads. Not enough to detract. Slight re-arrangement of beads is possible.
The gown could be worn with EXTREME care. Damage may occur if the fabric is stressed, pulled or manipulated. It is recommended for museum a/o display. The lining is especially at risk.
It does display beautifully on a mannequin. This is a rare, one of a kind.
If you follow Downton Abbey, this would be the perfect piece for Maggie Smith's character, Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham season 1.
Item ID: vc1109
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