#0346 $1,200Beaded appliquéd evening dress, c.1916
The layered styles of the early 20th century intimate a beguiling feminine mystique. In this exemplar of the style, lace appliqués on the bodice peek through an outer layer of beaded tulle. On the skirt, the appliqués are partially covered with black tulle embroidered with metallic gold pinstripes. The underskirt is of black satin.
The overskirt is bordered with two rows of faceted crystal ball beads lined with gold. Black bugle beads and seed beads are combined to create an elaborate pattern on the bodice. The beaded overlay dips down below the waist to form two long tassels in back.
The enigmatic zigzag motif on the bodice hints at an arcane, portentous mystery. Although it does not bear a rational form meant for the recipient's intelligence, its recondite beauty nevertheless penetrates subconsciously with its true meaning.
The various layers close separately in back with hooks and snaps. This elegant dress was designed for the customer who could afford a lady's maid for dressing. As a former pattern maker on Seventh Avenue, I find the construction technique ingenious, although quite complicated. If the great Edwardian ladies could wear these lovely gowns, so can you!
Consider Einstein's criterion for the perfect cosmological theory: “It should be as simple as possible but not simpler.” This also applies to clothing construction. Although Einstein’s formulation seems a mere witticism, it is actually rather profound. Whether the design comes from the Creator or from a clothing designer, sometimes great beauty can be achieved only through complex design.
The style is slightly high waisted in front and longer in back. The label on the petersham reads "Stern Brothers/Paris/New York."
Founded in 1867 in New York, the fashionable Stern Brothers department store was known for French imports and dignified doormen in top hats. The store's reputation was so high that it removed the labels of Paris imports and replaced them with the Stern Brothers label.
The condition is almost excellent. There are several small breaks in the black tulle skirt. Luckily they are invisible with the black satin underskirt for backing.
It measures: 36" bust; 32" waist; 42" hip; 14 1/2" from shoulder to front waist; and 59" from shoulder to front hem.