#1371 $1,200French beaded silk taffeta reception gown, c.1890
Nice, on the French Riviera, was a favorite winter playground for European aristocrats in the 1890s. The English, including Queen Victoria, basked in the city's mild Mediterranean winters. The top fashion houses opened in Nice to accommodate affluent visitors.
As is, the gown makes a striking display with an exaggerated high collar and sweeping back train. If you back the damaged net inserts, which have several holes, the piece would be a paragon of this historic style. The design is totally intact and true to the period.
Made from black silk taffeta that opens over beaded net inserts backed with pink taffeta, this dramatic gown could be the centerpiece of any exhibit. The wide lapels, cuffs, and front skirt opening are trimmed with scrolling black passementerie. Two black satin ribbon flowers decorate the waist above the skirt insert.
The bodice is boned and lined with cotton and closes with hooks. The collar and sleeves are edged with pleated pink silk chiffon ruffles, which are almost totally intact—very important because they would be difficult to replace. With its much finer weave, 19th century silk chiffon bears little resemblance to today's cheaper chiffon.
The condition is very good. The beaded net inserts need to be backed for support, a restoration that takes moderate skill. The pink taffeta lining, which has splits on the front skirt facing, is otherwise strong and is not shattering. The gown is offered at a low price because it deserves to be restored. With restoration, the price would be $2000-2100.
It measures: 34" bust, 22" waist, 21" sleeve length, and 51" from shoulder to front hem.