Liberty & Co.
Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
Silk crepe, silk satin, lace, braided cord
1906. Gray silk crepe Aesthetic movement style one-piece dress with embroidered mauve silk satin panels, an obi-like sash, and three-quarter-length kimono sleeves, with a floor-length skirt having a train, made by Liberty of London.
The dress has a Liberty of London label on its waist stay ribbon and is a classic example of Liberty’s design hallmarks of delicate fabrics, Aesthetic dress, and Japonisme. The bodice is made of two pieces of silk crepe, 72.4 cm / 28.5 in. long and 38.1 cm / 15 in. wide, each draped over one shoulder from the waist in front to the back, forming a three-quarter-length sleeve kimono-style sleeve with no shoulder seam or scye. The seam joining the front and back panels at the sides continues down the arm to close the sleeve as well. Both the front and back bodice panels leave a gap at center. A lightly gathered skirt is sewn directly to the bodice, made with five gored panels of silk crepe: two narrow panels at each front and side, and three wider panels in back for more fullness. In the front, the bodice gap reaches the hem of the skirt, but in back the skirt fully encloses the dress beneath the waist and forms a rounded train.
The gap in front is filled by a 125.7 cm / 49.5 in. long mauve silk satin panel which extends in one piece from the neckline to the hem. The panel is wider than the gap but shows only 20.3 cm / 8 in. at the neckline, narrowing to 14.6 cm / 5.75 in. at the waist, and widening to 27.3 cm / 10.75 in. at the hem, though in fact it is 63.5 cm / 25 in. wide there. It curves gently up at the neckline and is lightly padded to the waist. The right front of the gray crepe wraps over the mauve satin and is sewn down along the full length of its edge, and the left front of the gray crepe is left open for dressing in the bodice and top of the skirt but is sewn down from mid-thigh to hem. In back, the bodice gap is filled with a 13.3 cm / 5.25 in. wide version of the mauve silk panel which ends at the waist. Both panels are embellished with mauve silk satin stitch embroideries of flowers and leaves. More of the mauve silk is knife pleated vertically into a 2.9 cm / 1.125 in. wide band, which is added to each side of the neckline above the embroidered mauve panel, with 5.1 cm / 2 in. wide flat lace added to the edge. The bodice is fully lined with an eight-piece plain-weave white silk: two front panels closing at center front with twelve hooks and eyes, and a six-panel back with a center-back seam. The dress bodice closes over this in overlapping layers. The mauve satin is sewn to the right front lining opening and hooks to the bodice lining at the left side with five hooks, and to the base of the satin pleated shoulder band with three hooks. Then the right edge of the gray silk crepe bodice wraps over the mauve satin panel and hooks to it with seven hooks. The skirt is lined only beneath the mauve satin panel in front, with fabric added to the bodice lining at its hem. The center opening of the bodice lining extends partially into the skirt lining. The mauve satin panel floats above the lining and wraps under the left gray crepe skirt panel, then secures to the dress lining with four snaps. The waist seam between bodice and skirt is hidden by a mauve silk satin sash gathered in soft horizontal folds, sewn at the side of the center panel on the right and hooking in place on the left. At center back, it is made to resemble a Japanese knotted obi sash: it passes beneath a rectangular embroidered knot or buckle element, has a single matching silk flat bow loop above, and two streamers hanging below, pleated to appear as though tied. The sleeves are trimmed with a lattice of lavender silk braided cord and mauve satin-covered domed buttons, with more cord at the hem above a 10.2 cm / 4 in. wide fall of lace.
Professionally made, with an embossed label reading “Liberty & Co. Ltd London & Paris, To the King by appointment, To the Queen by appointment." Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 109.2 cm / 43 in.
Waist: 80 cm / 31.5 in.
Hem: 320 cm / 126 in.
Length (skirt front): 180 cm / 42.5 in.
Length (skirt back): 144.8 cm / 57 in.
Gift of Sarah Crapo Tappan Coe. Worn by the donor.
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Dresses, 1906, Hyde Park, Massachusetts, United States, One-piece dresses, Aesthetic dress movement, Reform dress movement, Japonisme, Belle Époque, Obi, Kimono, Crepe, Silk, Silk satin, Gray (color), Mauve (color), White (color), Trains (costume components), Waist stay ribbon, Gored skirt, Embroidery, Flowers, Leaves, Knife pleated, Hooks and eyes, Snaps, Braided cord, Lavender (color), Satin-covered buttons, Domed buttons, Lace, Professionally made, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Coe (donor)