Pearlescent beads on a black ground, on this beaded evening dress, KSUM 1986.94.1.

1920s in Bloom

As we continue to go through our 1920s dresses, we have discovered countless variations of floral motifs.  Flowers have been applied to the dresses through embroidery, printing, beading and even ribbonwork. While different flowers from roses to chrysanthemums and daisies are recognizable, many of the motifs are so abstracted or stylized that it becomes difficult to identify as a flower let alone a specific species. The following gallery shows some of the variety in color, texture and style that we have found.

For more information about the project to inventory our 1920s collection, see this earlier post and this one.

Sara Hume, Curator/Associate Professor

Detail of neckline on beaded evening dress of cream satin and chiffon, American, late 1920s, KSUM 1983.1.341.

Wedding inspiration from the 1920s

As I described in an earlier blog post, we are undergoing a project to inventory our entire collection of dresses from the 1920s. Many themes pop out at us as we are going through the drawers. In fact, the drawers themselves seem to be organized by color. In the first few drawers we have found a number of wedding dresses as well as dresses that could provide inspiration for today’s brides. A couple of the dresses have the full-skirted style known as the “robe de style” although most are the more typical cylindrical silhouette, so closely identified with the decade. There is also an almost complete lack of lace although there is plenty of silk satin and beading. We hope you enjoy the photo gallery!

Sara Hume, Curator/Associate Professor

Detail of gold embroidery on ca. 1815 evening dress, KSUM 1987.97.28. Collection of the Kent State University Museum.

Gold embroidery on a court dress and train

1983.1.2011 and 1986.97.28
Evening dress and court train with gold embroidery, ca. 1815. KSUM 1983.1.2011 and KSUM 1986.97.28. Collection of the Kent State University Museum.

We have recently received a few inquiries about this beautiful dress and court train and while editing the photos, I decided to share them with the public in a blog post. This evening dress is of ivory moiré silk faille, which has been richly embroidered with gold and is paired with a detachable court train of green velvet also embroidered with gold. These pieces are English and date from 1810-1825. Although they have different accession numbers they were both donated to the museum by the founder, Shannon Rodgers and have been exhibited together several times.

Sara Hume, Curator/Assistant Professor

The textile is laid out so the stripes fall down along the center of the Watteau folds.

A Closer Look at an 18th-Century Gown

This piece is currently on exhibit at the Kent State University Museum in the “Fashion Timeline,” which is an permanent installation featuring a survey of historical pieces from our collection covering 200 years from 1750 to 1950. The pieces are rotated out regularly and this robe à la française will remain on view through summer 2014. We just completed photography of several of the pieces from our latest rotation, and this dress photographed so beautifully (well, because it is so beautiful) that I felt it deserved a blog post of its own.

This robe à la française is on view in the exhibition, "Fashion Timeline."
This robe à la française is on view in the exhibition, “Fashion Timeline.” Robe à la française, German, ca. 1750s, KSUM 2002.35.7 ab.

This dress is made from a luxurious textile which has a striped ground with beautiful ombré blue stripes on the cream. There is then a pattern woven with a supplementary warp so that the figures are in twill weave while the ground weave is satin. The resulting textile has a subtle variation of color and texture. The peach or salmon color has faded over the years and is darker and brighter in the folds, but this does not diminish its beauty.

Obviously this gown was intended as a showcase for this stunning fabric, which cascades uninterrupted from neck to hem in the back. The fabric has been carefully laid out so that the stripes fall down along the center of the Watteau pleats. The fabric that has been pleated into the ruched trim, however, is arranged so that the stripes run horizontally. These decoratively pleated pieces are edged with braid that carefully coordinates with the fabric of the robe.

The robe is paired with a quilted petticoat of cream satin which was part of the same donation. The information from the donor of the dress suggests that the dress was German. One interesting aspect of the dress is the neckline. In the more usual cut of a robe à la française, the trim (or robings) run straight down the front of the opening at the bodice then down the skirt. You can see this construction in this yellow robe à la française.  However, the trim at the neckline on this piece curves around form a 90 degree angle from the neck to the front opening.

 

Sara Hume, Curator

Detail of the waistcoat open showing the functional velvet buttons.

A Closer Look at an 18th-Century Suit

This magnificent red silk velvet suit from the 1770s had been in our Fashion Timeline exhibition for the past several months but, we recently took it off exhibit. The textile is a remarkable textured velvet and it is  trimmed with silver embroidery and sequins.

1995.17.174a-c.Front
Man’s velvet suit, French, ca. 1778, KSUM 1995.17.174 a-c.

As I was undressing the mannequin I was amazed again at the particular way that 18th century men’s suits were constructed. I snapped a few quick pictures as I was working so I could share.

Sara Hume, Curator