Saturday, December 29, 2007

Courtly Vienna

Austrian Evening Dress

Austrian Evening Dress, 1910–12. Pink silk satin, yellow silk satin, pink silk net with gold bead, rhinestone, and silk thread embroidery and tasseled rope appliqué, white silk lace trim. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Irene Lewisohn Estate, 2003 (2003.46).

This evening dress from Vienna reflects a shift in international taste emanating from the couture houses of Paris. By 1910 the severe pouter pigeon, or monobosom, bodice and S-curve silhouette that characterized fashions at the start of the century were superseded by a Directoire Revival style most famously introduced by Paul Poiret. The Austro-Hungarian court, however, was among the most conservative in its requirements for protocol and dress. This gown therefore manifests both the incorporation of the increasingly cylindrical line endorsed by Paris, while suggesting, in comparison to a Poiret gown with its waistline raised to directly under the bust, only the beginnings of a concession to the most advanced of French designs.

Composed of a pink satin underdress and an elaborately embroidered silk tulle overdress, the gown reprises elements of formal Napoleonic dress that were themselves evocations of the aristocratic, pre-revolutionary open gown. The eighteenth-century open gown conveyed the impression of an over dress open at the front bodice and underskirt, or petticoat. In this instance, the over gown of silk tulle is so fine as to be virtually invisible, conveying the impression that the elaborate beading and embroidery are applied directly to the underdress. The vividness of the bugle-beaded embroidery and tassels is the result of the twenty-four-karat-gold foil that lines each bead.

Comments (73)

  1. Laura Says:

    Nice ;)

  2. zita Says:

    very beautiful and unique

  3. Amy Julia Says:

    A beautiful and impressive example of a very important period of style and silhouette. I wish it had been on a rotating platform so the full effect of the small S-curve could be seen better. A wonderful contrast to the Poiret next to it, thank you very much!

  4. aliya Says:

    really pretty

  5. Katie Says:

    Wow, this is a finely made piece of art! I love it!

  6. Kaitlyn Says:

    it is tre magnifiec or wondersshun in germen

  7. Laurie Aron Says:

    This gown looks perfectly comfortable among the officially couture offerings. And with all that shimmering gold, imagine a ball room of them waltzing!

  8. Rachel Says:

    I’m not sure what I think of this dress. It definately shows how wealthy the person who wore this was. It might be too blinged out for me but I would not hesistate to wear it if i got the chance.

  9. sabrina Says:

    I love this exhibit, it is very amazing and extraordinary! The designers were so creative and their work is so unusual.

  10. karla Says:

    this is hot

  11. karla Says:

    this is a good place to be at…

  12. Deano's Says:

    Elegant, beautiful simplicity to the shape of the dress. Gorgeous detailing. :)

  13. Gi Says:

    What a lovely dress.
    That time must have been beautifil.

  14. Nada Says:

    Where’s the creative and critical dialogue here? What, for example, is the meaning of the wide but smushed monobosom? Is it supposed to indicate an undifferentiated maternal mass, a cyclopean but un-benippled head cushion? From the contemporary perspective, it’s impossible for me to see anything even remotely elegant about this shape. Why are there even fashion trends regarding women’s breasts? I recently saw a video of a 1950s bellydancer wearing an outrageously pointy bra a little like the one Gaulthier would later design for Madonna. Are pointy cones pleasing or are we just amused by the extremity of form?

  15. c willow Says:

    The color is rich, but I dont like the draping. Its super unflattering.

  16. Gloria Guinness Says:

    Evanescence for the cocktail hour, a meringue of a dress, lovely to look at but its appeal evaporates upon closer inspection. The workmanship is lovely but the effect is filmy and temporary. What I love, however, is the color combination (so pastry-like, and therefore, so Austrian, a sacher-torte of a dress) and the satin ribbons. It also appears negligee-like. Could that have been part of its fragile appeal in its heyday?

  17. hope Says:

    While pices such as this one convey a sense of the “dreams” of its day, it would be really interesting to find how ideas of beauty are expressed by the masses. What for example would a woman of more humble means have worn to a party in that day? would ethnicity affect what she chose?

  18. Moo Says:

    Makes the mannequin look very short.

  19. Colleen Says:

    I really likes this dress. I especially liked all the detaling on the upper part of the dress =)

  20. Lucy Kessler Says:

    Hmm.. butter-colored satin and gaudy detailing. It was obviously made for a rich woman–no woman of modest means at that time could have afforded to have such a dress.

  21. James Says:

    It would be fascinating to find out how many times the dowager who owned this gown allowed herself to be seen in it. I don’t think ladies of this station got away with repeat appearances in the same party attire, as one learns from Wharton’s Lilly Bart. So what was the occasion for which this dress was made? Did her set find it a hit or a miss? And what possessed her…or her progeny…to preserve it? [I would ask the same questions about the spectacularly beribboned and paniered French gown from the 1760s.]

  22. Olivia Lennon Says:

    Strong, stylish, and a great dress that would be used for formal parties. Fabulous choice of color with the added sparkle of the beads that shine and would make that dress stand out in a battle for the best competition. 1910 really made this dress with passion and fashion sense.

  23. pete Says:

    Instrsting clows

  24. Maya Says:

    I personly think that this dress is gorgeous!

  25. Pia Says:

    I think it would look good on a princess going to dinner in the 19th century. I like the way the arms are made of sparkly lace.

  26. Andreas Says:

    Beautiful example of early twentieth century fashiom.

  27. lj Says:

    Love the flowing, creamy beauty

  28. Laurie Aron Says:

    Reacting to Nada, there are fashion trends in every womanly body part. Did you notice the enormous thigh openings on the fetish boots? Monobosom is the opposite of “lift and separate,” the bra maker’s dictum, and both as “unnatural” as Madonna’s cones.

    Part of why there are fashion trends in woman’s body parts, I think, is that erotic zones change over time, and what’s permissible and impermissible to see. Long ago, it was daring to bare the ankle. The problem with fashion/erotic trends about the breast is that it determines the health of children. Are they to be fed by their mothers or by wet-nurses or by the modern bottle? It’s a fight for a woman to allow her highly eroticized breast to be a teat, no matter the advantages she’s giving the offspring.

    Interestingly, the fashionable age has changed too, according to “In Vogue,” a book I just read. Apparently, Vogue looked to portray its models as around 30 up until the 60s, when they had Diana Vreeland’s “youthquake” and started looking for interesting teens.

  29. Abigail Says:

    wow! it is a beautiful dress. I like the sparkling sleeves. They stand out alot.

  30. Cait Says:

    very prety and gold it seems as if its all some scraps of paper put together

  31. Jane Says:

    This dress is especially beautiful because of the way it encapsulates the culture from which it emerged - its shape, color, and design speaks of early 20th century Vienna. The picture cannot possibly do justice to the intesity of the gold color that sparkles and shimmers on the original. I think the vertical line of the dress, down the front, its feminine curve but bunched in the front, expresses the 19th century hour glass rigidity which it was coming from but anticipates the changes in fashion about to take place in the 1920s.

  32. Alice Says:

    I like the details - the tassels - going down the front of the dress which detract from the hips. It’s a beautiful dress

  33. Dragon Says:

    What a lovely dress! It looks like a weathly person on the Titanic might have worn this dress to dinner (like Astor’s wife!) We love the glitter and sequins. Some of us think we would prefer it without the wrap part at the top. Others think this is the best part!

  34. emi* Says:

    elegant and stunning. its on my birthday wish list now

  35. Jennifer Says:

    This dress is so beautiful. It’s elegant and simple at the same time.

  36. Krista Says:

    Super elegant and chic. The beading is phenomenal!

  37. Sophie Says:

    The dress is very sparkly and unique.

  38. Lily Monir Matini, Esq. Says:

    a little too slouchy and loose on top for my tastes
    but love the skirt. want. now.

  39. Jessica C. Says:

    This dress screams elegance that is reminicent of the movie ‘Titanic.’ It is elegant, timeless, and very beautiful. Looking at it reminds me of classic late-Victorian elegance; the fabric and rich color are a symbol to the wealth one had to have in order to own such fashion.

  40. Kristal Says:

    Stunning - love the color and the detailing. I wish I could try it on….

  41. Elizabeth Says:

    A beautiful dress reminiscent of a time when not all women could afford a dress with shimery gold beading, when every knockoff store featured gold plastic embellishments. The detailing on this dress is astonishing. Even 100 years later, the quality of the materials and the tailoring is amazing anyone would love to own a dress like this.

  42. Diana Says:

    This is the most beautiful dress in the exhibit. The color, the beads, the cut, and drape are lovely. I wish I could try it on!

  43. joe Says:

    loved the heel-less shoes and the remote control dress.

  44. Anne Says:

    This dress is a lovely rare beauty that carries within it elagance and grace. I would wear it anytime.

  45. Sashka pozzetti Says:

    Goodness, this dress is SOOOOOO! gold. I’m not sure if i like it. I prefer Lucile , Doucet and Paquin, but it is interesting to see how glitzy Austrian taste can be. Ivana trump could learn a thing or too from whoever wore this!!!!!!! :-)

  46. Sneha Bhasin Says:

    I believe the Austrian Evening dress was one of my favorite dresses. Just looking at it caught my attention. The designs and the shape of the entire dress is just beautiful.

  47. Lina Yousef Says:

    The Austrian evening dress has to be one of my favorite ensembles at the Museum. The moment i saw it i pictured myself in it. Its elaborate beading and layering of fabric gives it a different glam thats still modern today. This picture doesn’t even come close to showing the hand details of the dress that catches your eyes and protrays the cultures of Vienna at the time.

  48. Nancy Says:

    It is one thing to see this dress online and it’s another thing to actually see it right in front of you. Its embroidery and design really draws you in to have another look at it. It’s as if you are taking a trip back through time into a place where elegance and posture was a necessity and the way of life. Makes me want to go back and own one.

  49. Sanika Bhasin Says:

    This piece caught my eye because unlike the other dresses, this looks a lot more comfortable to wear. The silhouete is more relaxed and women can actually sit and walk around in this, without worrying about their bustle and all the other layers underneath. Also, I love how the dress is designed with tassels and gold. It’s very eye-catching and looks very precious.

  50. Johanna Says:

    The Austrian Evening Dress is very elegant. It’s very detailed. I love the gold bead rhinestones and silk thread embroidery. I think it was a well done dress.

  51. lady reckless Says:

    this dress is very creative and i think that this dress is also very beautiful and the person who made it had a real eye for style!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOLZZZZZZZ

  52. Erika Says:

    Finally a master piece of art which real women can wear! Magical!

  53. Bei Fong Says:


  54. Desmond Says:

    I like this, it’s a beautiful example of period Austrian fashion. I’m more a fan of French luxury and pomp, but I can appreciate the subtleties of Austrian conservatism.

  55. Maya Says:

    This dress is so gorgeous, and I really love the amazing detail, soft colors and the fact that in general, it sticks to the normal body shape. Overall, this was one of my favorite dresses of the exhibit.

  56. Camille Says:

    Wonderfully soft looking. I feel as if I am strolling through an enchanted garden…

  57. Katia Says:

    This dress is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I can almost picture the ballroom and I can almost hear the soft music. The dress is simply incredible.

  58. Katia Says:

    My favorite piece in the whole exhibit, it shines with its own light.

  59. Jennifer Smith Says:

    The intricate detailing on this Austrian evening dress is astonishing. The silhoette of the dress is very simplistic and reminicant of the time period. I personally really like the color of the dress!

  60. Kelli Says:

    I love the detail on this dress. Unlike a lot of the gowns from the more recent years shown at the exhibit, this does a good job of reflecting what a wealthy Austrian may have actually worn.

  61. Ewa Wojciechowska Says:

    This dress is elegant and outstanding. A bit plain, but still very pretty.

  62. Emma Says:

    This dress is one of my favorites. It looks very elegant yet comfortable. I love all the detail and how it ends near the top. The top part of the dress is beautiful, with alot beads, tassels, and silk. Beautiful!

  63. Stephanie Says:

    To me, this dress what the most inspiring of the exhibit.

  64. LMiller Says:

    It is fascinating to see an evening dress with the S-curve silhouette. The details of this piece are so beautifully crafted.. Represents pure elegance!

  65. Alinne Says:

    This image really doesn’t do this piece any justice.In person, the gold beading and sequin shine much, much brighter.The beaded patterns themselves are so fluid and strong.The draped silk netting really “gounds” its self with the weight and shap of the drape. And the cascaded beadwork does the same at the hemline of the dreaa. Although the dress is broken in two distinct pieces, each with differernt silhouettes, they merge beautifully. I feel they create the same dynamic by two different means.I can definitely appreciate the gorgeous contrast.I feel that, though the beaded ropework in the front is beautiful and very characteristic of its time period,if I were to wear this garment, I would probably remove it.Its just a bit heavy for today, or for me , rather. I was so delighted with the movement of this beadwork and simplistic elegance that I am considering the pattern, or something like it as inspiration for my own wedding gown…if and when this comes to fruition. Absolutely gorgeous.

  66. Edward E Says:

    I find interesting how many said this dress appears so comfortable and soft. Still in this period the corset was needed to achieve the mono-bosom, S curve that pushed the waist back and pushed the spine forward.

  67. meimi1995529 Says:

    nope.. i dont like this one AT ALL!!!!! XP

  68. sellkgbvcartyh Says:

    It is very goldish, and has a lot of designs on it. But it is very beautiful. I like how it is sparkly.

  69. amanda Says:

    this is my favorite dress out of all of the dresses here!

  70. Amy Says:

    This dress is gorgeous! It is so exquisite and ornate!

  71. katia Says:

    this work of art is stunning and beautiful. two thumbs up! :)

  72. Kristen Says:

    Perfect. This looks like something Lucy Honeychurch would wear in Room With a View.

  73. Alex Says:

    I like how it sparkles. (I’m 7 years old.)

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