Those of you who have been reading my posts a while know how much I love the transitional stages that Attire goes through. This dinner dress by Charles Frederick Worth is just such an article.
Part of the underlying reason that the amount of material stayed constant was that lavish fabric usage was one way to distinguish oneself as of a better class of folk. When we add to it the use of intensely colored, aniline dyed silks and passementerie, and the dressmaking skills of the couture, we are bound to get a result that is going to proclaim without hesitation that this person is someone of note.
So, lets look around at this thing, shall we?
Purple shades were very popular, as aniline dyes were widely available in purple tones, and the new dyes worked wonderfully well on a broad range of textiles, but especially, as in this case, on silk.
One of the other things that marks this as a transitional piece, is the skirt front. Both the draped apron and the skirt front still have a good deal of volume, which will evaporate in just a few years as the intensely trim cuirass shape comes to dominate the 1880s.
And then there are the trimmings. The yards and yards of long silk chenille and bead fringe would have been very expensive trim, and most likely made up for Mr Worth to his specifications at a passementerie atelier.
So, thanks to Mr Worth, for making this. I'm sure he had no notion it would become the subject of a historical discussion. And thanks, as always, to the inestimable Metropolitan Museum of New York for having this extraordinary thing in their collection.