Circa 1909-1910 figured silk foulard dress accented with flat black piping features a print of stylized mallow flowers—pale purple with black centers-- on a soft white ground.
A Gibson-style high necked yoke or chemisette of ecru filet net, embroidered with dimensional little flowers and piped at the very top, sits inside the dress’ round collar, the outline of which is also piped. The chemisette is attached along the right side and bottom of the collar, and attaches on the left with hooks-and-eyes, and at the top back of the neck. (Please note that, at 13”, the chemisette neckband was too fitted to close around the dress form; it is however in perfect condition).
The sleeves--gently puffed at the shoulders—are shaped and fitted by a trio of tucks at the elbow, then tucked (as well as piped) again at the wrists for a cuff effect.
The elaborately tucked “waist” or bodice opens off-center to the low hip, fastens with a series of hooks and eyes, and is attached to the skirt with what was described at the time as a “crushed girdle”. Its polished cotton lining has underarm dress shields, and a detached, corset-like front that closes with hooks and eyes.
The (unlined), gored skirt has smooth panels in the front and flaring box pleats, for fullness, in the back. Three horizontally piped-and-tucked sections create a flounced effect near the hem.
The fitted sleeves and high-waisted, gored skirt are typical of 1909-1910 (high-waisted dresses were referred to as “Empire models”), and pale purplish hues like wisteria, lavender, lilac and mauve had been popular since the middle of the decade. A 1910 article explains that the color mauve got its name “on account of its resemblance to the purple markings of mallow, a plant which the French call ‘mauve’”—and which I believe to be the flower represented in the print.
Though most dresses worn out of the home in the Edwardian period had back closures, the elaborate construction and silk fabric of this one suggest that it was a day dress rather than “house dress” despite its front opening. Photo #8 shows dresses from the 1909 National Cloak & Suit Co. catalog with similar style details (high waists, fitted sleeves, gored skirts, partial flounces, “figured foulards”, etc), and a dress from the 1909 Delineator magazine with similar neckline treatment that, like the one here, opens to the side in front.
Measurements are as follows: Bust 34”, shoulders 14.5” waist 25”, sleeves 23.5”, length shoulder to top of “girdle” 14”, length shoulder to hem 52”, and sweep at hem 128”.
Good condition, with the silk sturdy and free of any holes or fraying as is the lace chemisette. There are two tea-colored stains, ¼” and ¾”, on the front center above the waist, and a third ¼” one near the elbow of the left sleeve (photo #6), and two 1.5” abraded sections to the flat piping under the hem, invisible while worn (photo #7). In addition, the print has sections of subtle colorfade, most noticeably on the sides of the sleeves and down the front center of the dress.
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