Festive Frocks

As the holiday season is drawing near, it is the perfect time to take a look at some of the stunning party dresses in the museum’s collection. Especially nowadays, when vintage and retro styles are in vogue, it is very inspiring to gaze the fashions of the past decades.

The 1920s was of course the epitome of chic sparkly dresses, and the museum has quite a vast collection of these beaded beauties. The first dress here is a black silk chiffon evening dress with clear glass beading and a band of marabou feathers at the hem.

However, elaborate beadwork is not the only way of achieving the festive look, as is evident from this fire red devore velvet dress from second half of the 1920s. It is probably home-sewn and the cut is very simple, but the real eyecatcher here is the fabric. Caustic solution is used to dissolve parts of the velvet pile and to create an intrigue pattern resulting in a dress which is simple, but impressive.

The 1930s saw the return of the natural form emphasizing the waist and bust as well as comeback of long evening dresses. The dress below is an excellent example of the dramatic but simple style that took influence specifically from American film industry.

The striking mauve colour is combined with simple lines, low v-shaped back and huge balloon sleeves, that are supported from the inside with tulle.

The dress is decorated with sewn-on dress clips which are fitted with rhinestones set in star shapes. Dress clips were widely used to add an extra sparkle to eveningwear, and they were easy to change from one dress to another.

Another lovely example of elegant eveningwear is this green velvet dress donated by Mrs. Joyce Tetley, who had bought the dress from Madame Arthur, a dressmaker from Leeds, and worn it at receptions and other formal parties at Leeds University, during the pro-chancellorship of Brigadier J. Noel Tetley from 1956-1964.
The dress has a gorgeous embroidered bodice and open back, as well as a panel at back lined with champagne satin.

Interesting detail here are the two light pink tulle rosettes inside the dress that work as an extra padding for the bust. It is alluring to think that even the details that no-one ever saw were conducted in such meticulous and beautiful way.
This is only a small sample of all the lovely dresses in the collection so look out for more blog posts about eveningwear!
Piia Lempiäinen

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