This remarkable silk chiffon ball dress is an illusion compounding an illusion, surrounded by a mystery. The actual structure of this garment is fairly simple for the time, but the complex paneled beadwork fools the eye into seeing much more construction complexity than exists in reality. The other half of the illusion comes from the chiffon fabric of the surface, which, when given an under layer, assumes a weightiness that is only apparent when motionless. In motion this gown must have had a very grown up, and deeply sexy fluidity to it that its relatively conservative cut doesn't show us here. And the mystery? This exquisite object comes to us with an unsubstantiated attribution. We do not know for certain who made it, or who wore it. It has been claimed to be a Doucet creation, the work of Jean Phillipe Worth, and also from the House of Paquin. Which is it, if it is any of these? That is a secret only the dress itself could tell.
Looking at the garment's construction, that too is faultless. Silk chiffon is notorious. It is so light and mobile that the merest breath on it will cause a piece being worked to shift off position.
One of the other things that made me want to show you all this piece is that it brought to mind another magnificently beaded gown, the embassy ball dress from the musical film My Fair Lady.