Friday, October 5, 2012

Dress of the Week: Electric Light Fancy Dress

Since it's October, also known as Halloween month, my Dress of the Week posts will be about great fancy dresses of yore. First up is this electrifying, pardon the pun, gown from the House of Worth.

Fancy Dress, 1883, House of Worth. Source: MCNY   

Fancy Dress, bodice, 1883, House of Worth. Source: MCNY

Fancy Dress, bodice detail, 1883, House of Worth. Source: MCNY

Fancy Dress, bodice lining 1883, House of Worth. Source: MCNY
Date: 1883
Material: Yellow satin; golden yellow satin; metallic thread embroidery; paillettes and beads; midnight blue velvet; yellow tulle with applied tinsel; tinsel and looped cord edging; glass pearls; fringe 
The "Electric Light" is a really gorgeous gown created by Maison Worth for Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt II that she worn to the Vanderbilt Ball on March 26, 1883. Despite being just a fancy dress, the amount of work that went into it and the intricacy of detail is amazing. It is yellow and golden yellow satin with a midnight blue velvet underskirt and yellow tulle drapery falling from the shoulders. The dress is covered with gold and metallic tinsel and embroidery with clear and gold beads arranged in lightning bolt and starburst shapes. 

This gown definitely does not lack embellishment with metallic tinsel, cords, glass pearls, gold beads and copious amounts of fringe. The skirt has a very pronounced bustle, with the overskirt gathered at the center and open at the back to show off the lovely embroidery on the underskirt and train.

Mrs Vanderbilt as Electric Light, 1883 
The dress does look absolutely stunning and must have made quite an impression when Mrs Vanderbilt graced the ball with her presence. The idea of dressing up as a common utility may seem a little strange to us  modern folk, but it was still quite novel to the people in the late 1800's. Electricity as a fancy dress seemed to have been rather popular in Victorian times. 

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