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“Court” Gown

Learn more about this dress in our historic fashion newsletter, Costume in Detail.

Description of the Dress

This gown of embroidered cream satin and red velvet closely resembles descriptions of high Court fashion, though it may a mock example or a costume worn to a fancy dress ball due to lack of provenance. The gown is in one-piece and lined fully with red taffeta silk.

“Manners and Rules of Good Society” (1893) describes high court dress for Ladies; “Bodices in front, cut square, or heart-shaped, which may be filled in with white only, either transparent or lined: at the back, high, or cut down three-quarters height. Sleeves to elbow, either thick or transparent.” Similarly, the bodice has a heart-shaped neckline in front and cut down to a point in back. The bouffant sleeves, capped with satin, end at the elbow. There is a pleated satin applied front with a rounded point at the waist. It is structured with 13 standard baleen bones and 2 narrow bones at the center front closure, secured with 8 hooks and eyes. The twill waist tape bears the brand label and two eyes.

In addition, the skirt boasts a long, two-layered velvet train. The upper train is attached directly to the bodice. The under-train, that closes separately with the skirt front, bears a pinked dust ruffle and a tarlatan lining that ends at the hip where the train can be controlled with two twill tape drawstrings. The under-train is then gathered to the waist – faced narrowly – and bears a small tape loop. The skirt front is inserted over a lining faced at the hem with tarlatan and edged with a double ruffle. It consists of three satin panels, two curved and edged with tassels, and is darted to the waist. A large pocket is hidden in the side seam. The skirt closes with a hook and eye over a narrow placket.

The Makers

The upscale London department store Peter Robinson, whose dressmaking department sold clothing on commission as well as ready-to-wear garments, is the maker of the dress.  The makers mark on the waist tape reads, “Peter Robinson, Oxford St. Regent St. London”.

Measurements

OL 54″ / Waist tape: 25.5″ / Skirt waist: 27″ / Train circumference : 82″