The Corset for the Peacock Dress

The Corset for the Peacock Dress

When I was raising money for Random Acts’ projects in Haiti in 2011, and pledging to make the Peacock Dress in return, I imagined that I would be the maker of the whole outfit, every stitch. However, it’s not going to work out that way, and I’m delighted about that.

Not only because it reduces the workload (hiring Indian specialists to embroider the dress takes about thirty years off, literally) but because the result of any project is so much better when you let go, step back and ask for help from people who know what they’re doing better than you do.

New Worth Evening Gowns, part 2: Expect the Unexpected

New Worth Evening Gowns, part 2: Expect the Unexpected

In the second part of this series of posts showcasing Worth designs from the photo archive preserved at the V&A, I’m sharing the one that stopped me in my tracks and made me say, WTF?     Zigzags? In 1902? Flouncy, frou-frou femininity with garlands of roses and frothy frills, yes, but… zigzags? I wonder whether this gown was considered unusual or avant garde at the time? Was it intended for Worth’s more adventurous clients, or does it simply not fit into our modern, shorthand, tl;dr version of Edwardian style? According to the notes beneath the photo, the gown is made from black and white silk mousseline. (It’s lovely stuff, a tad more substantial than silk chiffon, but not as stiff as silk organza. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it used for an evening gown of this era.) It looks as though the main white mousseline fabric is already spangled in some way when it comes off the roll, since the pattern is constant and regular across the gown. Successive layers of the sheer, plain black mousseline have been appliqued onto the white gown, and then the edges of each layer have been outlined in sequins. (Good idea on the sequins there – the silk mousseline would have frayed like a %$^*&!£.)     On the bodice there are three such applied layers, and on the skirt an extra layer of the white, or another pale colour, has been applied first. And the sleeves?     Two pieces of “spangled” white mousseline are sewn into the armhole and held together with an applied star near the shoulder,...