I recently visited the Masterworks: Unpacking Fashion exhibition currently on display in the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They're not kidding about that title, either: every garment truly is a masterwork, and in exquisite condition. It's an amazing exhibition, and if you're fortunate enough to be in New York, it's definitely worth a trip to the Met.
With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, this dress from the exhibition seems particularly appropriate to share. This dress is simply fun, and it made everyone who came around the gallery corner smile.
It's also wonderful to see a dress like this in person. As Loretta has pointed out in other blogs featuring fashion plates from this era (here, here, and here), imagining exactly how the elaborate trimmings must have looked isn't easy. The detailed embellishments of this dress - poufs, red silk stuffed cording, and polychrome wool embroidery - add wonderful color and dimension to an otherwise plain white dress. (Loretta and I also marveled at how the wearer managed to keep a snow-white dinner dress so perfectly clean, without a single spot of gravy or spilled claret-cup - though that may be revealing more about us at Christmas parties than the unknown wearer.)
The museum's information is worth repeating here:
When I shared this dress on Instagram, readers wondered how the wearer could have kept warm, wearing a short-sleeved cotton dress in December in houses without central heating. The answer: a luxurious cashmere shawl (see here and here.)
Above: Dinner Dress, maker unknown, British, 1824-26. White cotton lawn embroidered with holly motifs in red and green wool, trimmed with red silk taffeta. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photographs ©2016 Susan Holloway Scott.