It's not often we have a video devoted to a single dress – but then this is no ordinary dress. Its white silk woven with multi-colored sprigs of flowers and embellished with bright coordinated trimming, this is a spectacular example of a 1760s sack-back dress with matching petticoat, and clearly the work of a talented mantua-maker. This is Georgian high-fashion at its most stylish.
The silk shows enough wear to prove the dress was worn more than once, but it still must have been a family treasure, carefully packed away by members of the Dalrymple family, where it has remained ever since. It's possible that it was worn by Anne Broun, right, as her wedding dress when she married Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, in 1763. She died only five years later in 1768, and the dress might have been set aside in her memory. Miraculously it escaped the fate of so many 18th c. dresses, and was never cut apart and remodeled for later wear, or modified into a fancy dress costume.
The multi-colored floss fringe trim (and plenty of it!) is particularly noteworthy. See this blog post for more about such trime, andhow it was made.
Recently restored and conserved, the dress is currently on display for the first time at Newhailes, a National Trust of Scotland property near Edinburgh, until June 29, 2015. Alas, a trip to Scotland this month isn't on our schedule, but Emma Inglis of the National Trust of Scotland was kind enough to share this short video with us - and now with you.
Right: Anne Brown (of Coalstoun), by Allan Ramsay, c.1761, private collection. If you received this post via email, you may be seeing only an empty space or black box where the video should be. To view, click here.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.