Marie Lamy of Paris
Costume; Clothing; Main garments; Dresses
Silk satin, bobbinet, paillettes
1908-1915. Ice blue silk satin one-piece sleeveless dress by Marie Lamy of Paris, closing in back, with a slightly bloused bodice and a floor-length gored skirt, finished with a bobbinet overlay embroidered with silver, gold, and iridescent paillettes of various shapes and with cap sleeves and an ankle-length gathered skirt.
The bodice is made of eleven pieces: two fitted front panels with a center-front seam, an additional one-piece panel sewn into the seams on either side of the front and loosely gathered to create a small bloused or pouched silhouette, two side panels, and a six-piece back with twelve hooks at a center back-opening. All the seams and the left side of the opening have boning. The bodice extends slightly past the waist, curving over the hips, and is further secured by a waist stay ribbon with a maker’s label for Marie Lamy. The neckline is square, framed by 3.8 cm / 1.5 in. wide shoulder straps.
The skirt is floor length and snugly fitted at the waist and hips before flaring toward the hem. It is made of four gored panels, two in front and two in back, and is sewn to the exterior of the bodice about 2.54 cm / 1 in. above the waist stay, giving the dress a high waist. The back opening from the bodice extends into the skirt, which closes with six more hooks. The skirt is slightly longer in back than in front.
The overlay is a fine, very pale blue two-twist bobbinet made with a looser fit than the satin layer. The bodice is made of five pieces: one center-front panel, two side panels, and two center-back panels. These are cut larger than the foundation bodice and are gathered to the waist seam. Small cap sleeves made from a single layer of net are added to the bodice shoulder straps, and the neckline is outlined and slightly filled in with flat pleated bands of net. The skirt overlay is made of one 266.7 cm / 105 in. wide panel with a center-back seam, gathered to the waist seam with more fullness at the sides and back than in the front. It hangs straight down from this seam, floating above the fitted satin skirt waist. The overlay skirt is slightly longer in back than in front, and is also shorter than the satin skirt beneath. The net is sprinkled all over with flat paillettes of gold and silver, some stamped as tiny flowers in two different styles. Clusters of the stamped flowers gather around translucent pearly paillettes that are grouped into large floral shapes, with silvered glass seed beads forming the flower centers. These centers are then finished with pairs of translucent and iridescent blue paillettes shaped like dragonfly wings. While these are imitation, actual insect wings, especially of the jewel beetle, were an embellishment imported into 19th century Western fashion from India and South American traditions. Due to their fragility, few examples remain, though John Singer Sargent’s 1889 portrait of actress Ellen Terry wearing her famous beetle-wing-strewn costume for Lady Macbeth shows the striking effect. British design house Liberty & Co. had a wing-trimmed dress available as late as 1928, but the fashion was never broad-based and went out of style shortly afterward.
Professionally made, with an embroidered label reading “Marie Lamy Robes-lingerie, 6 Rue Vignon Paris”. Machine-sewn and hand-sewn.
Bust: 86.4 cm / 34 in.
Waist: 68.6 cm/ 27 in.
Shoulder: 3.8 cm / 1.5 in.
Sleeve: 21.6 cm / 8.5 in.
Hem (skirt): 163.8 cm / 64.5 in.
Hem (overlay): 266.7 cm / 105 in.
Length (skirt front): 105.4 cm / 41.5 in.
Length (skirt back): 108 cm / 42.5 in.
Length (skirt overlay front): 94 cm / 37 in.
Length (skirt overlay back): 104.1 cm / 41 in.
Gift of Robert and Janet Varney
University of New Hampshire Library
Astrida Schaeffer, photographer/curator
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
Dresses, Evening gowns, 1908-1915, One-piece dresses, Paris, France, Marie Lamy of Paris, Silk satin, Ice blue (color), Pale blue (color), Back-closing, Bloused bodice, Pouched silhouette, Cap sleeves, Square neckline, Shoulder straps, High waisted, Floor-length skirt, Ankle-length skirt, Overlay, Net (textile), Pleats, Gores, Embroidery, Paillettes, Iridescent, Silver (color), Gold (color), Sequins, Bobbinet, Hooks, Boning, Waist stay ribbon, Flowers, Dragonfly wings, Professionally made, Machine-sewn, Hand-sewn, Varney (donor)