#1411 $1,450Belle Époque silk crepe gown, c.1902
Belle Époque fashion was the last flowering of conspicuous consumption before WWI radically altered both social norms and high fashion. Gowns from this Gilded Age were elaborately constructed and worn over tightly laced corsets to maintain the fashionable hourglass shape of the Gibson Girl.
Surviving Belle Époque gowns often lack the original underpinnings. They have lost the famous S-bend shape of the period. In all original condition, this captivating gown is a special find for the collector of period-correct antique clothing.
Made from delicious raspberry pink silk crepe, this endearing gown personifies the Gibson Girl, the icon of feminine beauty created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson. She was tall and slender, yet with ample bosom and hips. The exaggerated S-curve torso shape was achieved by wearing a swan-bill corset.
The skirt and lower sleeves are decorated with rows of pin tucks. Matching pink silk chiffon is used for the upper sleeves and sleeve bows. The neckline, sleeves, and lower skirt are decorated with ivory lace appliqués.
The skirt fits smoothly over the hips. It is cut longer and fuller in back, forming a graceful train. The bodice and skirt are both lined with pink taffeta. The seams of the boned bodice are carefully finished with ivory seam binding. The bodice closes in back with hooks. The label on the petersham reads L'Esperance Robes.
The upper class Gibson Girl was always perfectly dressed in the latest fashion. Her refined beauty was the idealized image of a calm, independent, confident woman who was "emancipated" in one respect: she could enter the workplace.
The Gibson Girl
One aspect of the Gibson Girl's persona that surprises or even shocks modern observers—she was sexually dominant. She was often depicted as examining comical little men under a magnifying glass; or casually crushing them under her feet.
The condition is almost excellent and all original. There are a few splits in the sleeve lining, which is not shattering.
It measures: 36" bust; 23" bodice waist with a 22" petersham; 24" skirt waist; 15" from shoulder to bodice waist; and 42" skirt-front length.