Possibly the most beautiful dress in the history of the world, and, incredibly, in a wearable size (provided you are not long-waisted) and sound condition. Clearly a museum piece, but we know how I feel about that, right? It's a dress, it's meant to be worn (albeit carefully)! So here we go...
Original dress from the 1850s, this silk organdy evening or ball gown consists of bodice, skirt, and matching fichu (that's the little shawl) in pink-on-white floral with a subtle lattice pattern running through the sheer, crisp fabric.
Bodice is boned and meant to sit quite low, off the shoulders. Mancherons (sleeve caps) over pagoda sleeves. Multiple vertical darts. Fully lined in white cotton, with interior "pockets" for bust pads.
The skirt closes at back with hooks & eyes on a cotton twill waistband, above a mesmerizing set of tiny, hand-sewn pleats. Gorgeous ruffles cascade to the floor. Seriously, I've found it very difficult not to eat this dress. It's that yummy. Oh, and it has a functional pocket on the right side. Yes, really.
The handwork is wonderful. It's trimmed all over with ruching and ruffles. The traditional piping, which was used to strengthen the seams (its gorgeousness is merely a side effect) is the tiniest and most delicious you've ever seen. Single piped everywhere but the bodice edge, which gets double piping, as was the mid-Victorian style.
We show it over a 120" cage crinoline (hoop) and over-petticoat (neither included). To recreate this full look, you'll need both. You can also use the pieces separately. The skirt would work well for late-Victorian or early Edwardian impressions, as the waist, when crossed over at back, creates the shape and gathers necessary to accommodate a small or large back bustle.
Labels: none - entirely home sewn by hand
Fiber/Care: no tags, silk organdy (crisp and sheer) with cotton bodice lining and pocket; dress is light as a feather, the entire ensemble weighs less than a pound.
Condition: please see photos and click to enlarge them as they're part of the description. dress presents beautifully. stains (only one bad one, at hem edge of skirt) are likely permanent, but there are no non-repairable or unpatchable tears or rips, and none are conspicuous or detract from the overall impression. Bodice had been basted (very large stitches) to skirt, but is now separate. Bone in front center bodice is broken. We let down an old tuck of the entire lowest ruffle. We have not cleaned the dress. Other than scattered spots and tears from use, fabric is sound and not splitting or shattering or dry-rotting. No odors.
Garment Measurements: please see photo collages with measuring tapes. dress was made to fit someone with a bit of meat on her bones, and then altered to fit someone of similar size, but much shorter (little sister? daughter?). It would not fit Cecelia the Dress Form at the shoulders and upper back (too tight), and was too big on her bust and waist (clipped to fit in photos).
I offer my own measurements and how it fits me to help you determine if it will work for you, if you intend to wear it: bust 35.5" (32D), waist 27" uncorseted, height 5'5.75". Bodice closes easily (though bust is snug) but is too short to meet waistband (I'm very long-waisted). Skirt waist is too big (move or add hooks to adjust). With dress form raised to about 5'8", it's long enough to reach the floor with a fully-extended 120" hoop. Without a hoop it would drag the ground.
(BDV SKU: 00581-001)
☞ Our items are not newly manufactured "vintage style" pieces. They are true vintage, at least 20 years old. In this case, 160 years old! So please read condition report provided above and look at every photo carefully. Email us with questions, and to see additional photos. ☜
Note: Any significant overages in shipping fees (where applicable) will be refunded. International customers are responsible for any taxes or import fees.
~ Proud member of the Vintage Fashion Guild ~