Embroidered Evening Dress
Style: Such an elaborate and professionally embroidered dress would have been a rarity on this side of the Atlantic. Its waist is at the highest possible level, indicative of the fad for neoclassical styles. The garment is sleeveless and would have required an underdress with sleeves, or some other arrangement. Because the arm holes are set extremely back, it also dictates a well-cut corset to set the shoulders in place to achieve the right position for the arms.
Although the one-piece “round gown” has by this time almost fully replaced the open robe and contrasting petticoat, this dress pretends to be an open robe—while actually constructed in one piece as a round gown.
Fabric: The embroidery is certainly professional, probably executed in one of France’s embroidery workshops, the precursor to today’s couture ateliers. It incorporates scalloped strips of the latest technological innovation: machine-made silk net.
Round gown, silk taffeta embroidered in silk with silk net appliqués, linen bodice lining; made and worn in France, private collection; reproduction sleeves; reproduction necklace courtesy Dames à la Mode.
The back piecing, visible here, is typical of the very last years of the 18th century.