|item number #LISA0001-20091014-01 |
1920-1925 NEMSER ORIGINAL MODEL Evening Gown Cubist Style Rhinestone Beaded Silk
This magnificent, 1920s Sadie Nemser Original Model Evening gown took my breath away from the moment I saw it. It's truly a masterpiece. I'd purchased this lovely gown some years ago from a Parisian dealer who had purchased this gorgeous 20's gown (along with a few other early designer gowns) from a grand old Paris estate. This gorgeous, sexy, stylish Nemser gown is strongly reminiscent of the stunning gown currently seen in theIndiana State Museum's collection. Look up Nemser Original Model (the museums's gown) to compare.
You'll plainly see, this spectacular Nemser gown is very obviously dated closely to the same early time period of the Indiana State Museum's gown. It has many similar trademark hallmarks as the museum gown... sheer, flesh-toned silk Georgette outer shell (Indiana State museum's is in the same flesh-hued tonal range, but made in tan/gray/taupe instead.) Magnificent, multi-colored beadwork (some beads are the "painted style"- actually painted, plus dyed beads, mentioned at the Indiana State museum's description). Similar shaped, large, Oriental motif flowers (on this gown, these Oriental motif flowers are all hand-embroidered instead of painted, then they are bead outlined.) This Nemser gown has the dual-layered dress body and slight, looped bead hems, with the sheer, flesh-toned silk slip with metallic lace trims and large, elegant, candlelight silk satin (taffeta backed) "Nemser Original Model" tag embroidered in dove gray silk thread, with a stylized bow.There are many other astounding aspects of this exciting flapper gown to recommend it as one of the finest, early avant-garde Cubist style gowns Mrs. Nemser made. This flapper gown was rich, beautiful, sexy... this was risky styling for the designer... it shows much skin, or alludes to it! Back, bare shoulders, along with bare arms, chest and legs. The soft, dusky nude flesh pink hue of the silk Georgette gives this gown a scandalous, sheer, nearly nude appearance. The front neckline in front is a plunging "V" with a very unusual and low, sexy triple crossed "A" on the shoulders and back, with the metallic Chantilly lace on the slip yoke peeking out so very slightly from underneath. This is the only time I have ever seen this crossed back effect on such an early gown... Makes me believe this was likely a gown to be worn only in summer (Also, I believe the date is actually closer to c.1920-1923.). (This would have been a C-O-L-D dress to wear during the chilly seasons!)
Due to the extensive beadwork and time-consuming hand stitched embroidery employed, I'm sure this lovely gown had to have been very expensive to have commissioned at the time. It weighs nearly 2 lbs.! This is a substantial amount of weight if you consider the heaviness is from 90 percent hand-beaded beads, hand stitched embroidery (back knotted) and hand applied, mine-cut rhinestones! The silk dress layers themselves (sans beadwork and embroidery) probably weigh little more than a few silk handkerchiefs total!The ornately beaded motif design pattern that dominates the gown shows clearly the early beginning of Mrs. Nemser's Cubist style design period. This 20's gown is made in (new looking) gold-hue glass beads in a 2" squares, checkerboard outline is concentrated upon the top half of the gown. Inside, and near some of the gold-beaded blocks strips of self, "flowered trim" are Oriental multihued flowers of pinks painted (moonstone? shell?) cream beads. They have tiny miniature, grayish (some clear plus also, rose-hued) rounded "rose"-cut, hand-faceted glass (or crystal) rhinestones. There are rare, larger, hand-cut "pyramid" cut crystal stones on nearly every square's corner- just makes the gown glisten at any angle when it moves.
None of (all the many) Oriental flowers follow exactly the same pattern! The large, fully bloomed flowers near the hems, are hand-embroidered with a loose, feathery, satin stitch done up in soft silk tones... pinks, pale green, golds and tan. This looped embroidery looks casual from a distance, but if you closely look the stitches are perfectly controlled and exact in execution. These too are beaded using similar multicolor hues, and also rhinestoned. There are also large, sheer triangular cutouts on the bottom layers with crisscrossed latticework of the gold glass beads. There's an "Edwardian" style hem treatment used here, bowed lower through the front and back, and hiked higher o the sides on an almost natural waistline, showing that this is most likely an early 20's gown. The lower hems have notched "Keyhole" hems lined with beads, rhinestones and with Sadie's signature 'looped beads' (also seen on the Indiana State Museum gown.) The hip has a hanging (but large and wide) folded carnation pink silk velvet (with ribbed silk faille back) hanging sash that is just under the top layer. I see no obvious evidence that there were any more decorations or sashes at the more draped hip side (but, there could there possibly have been a hip sash some time in the past?- Perhaps more of the carnation velvet?). However, it does seem to me if there were even more decoration to this very embellished gown it might become a bit overwhelming- there is a lot here for the eye to take in.The sheer slip liner is made of an even more sheer, pinky-nude-flesh hue gossamer silk Georgette. Blonde silk net ground is re-embroidered French Chantilly Lace, outlined with tarnished gold metallic thread. Tarnished fine gold metallic straps. Nemser Original Model Tag attached to slip. Rare designer, masterful gown!
Below life information about Mrs. Nemser paraphrased from her granddaughter's webpage, so I would like to credit and thank her for making the information of her life available... plus, a few periodical facts about the Coolidges and the dress Sadie made for the inauguration.Mrs. Sadie Nemser sold her unique and original gowns in her New York shop besides through quality department stores as did a few of her female designer contemporaries, Lucile designer, Lady Duff Gordon, and Marguerite (Later known as Madame Marge'. See her amazing gown here too.). The Nemser gown business, being a family owned and orientated vocation, various relatives specialized in different areas of dress design, such as specializing in the the unique beadwork and exquisite embroidery designs her gowns were sought out for. Sadie was also a forerunner in cubist style dress design-- (horizontal, plus vertical line detailing) such as seen on this early gown in a controlled pattern. Mrs. Nemser had even designed Mrs. Calvin Coolidge's (Grace Coolidge) glitzy, show-stopping inaugural gown people still talk about... a lipstick red, asymmetrical, triple-tiered chiffon velvet with dropped hip, and jewel belted, flapper-style gown, with a detachable train. The first lady's gown even had matching velvet rhinestone shoes especially made for the black-haired beauty chosen by her husband Cal, who oversaw all her outfits, and was worn Friday, August 3, 1923. Mrs. Coolidge's gown has become one of the most famous first lady gowns ever, but, most people do not realize who the talented designer was who made it one of the most famous first lady gowns, so special.
In July 1928, Mr. Nemser was also awarded the "French National Legion of Honor" for his and Sadie's endeavors (being premier delegates of the "Congress of Garment Retailers of America") for concordance between French and American garment industries- not a small feat in this day and age. You can see, this Ms. Nemser designer played a strong part in the history of design as we know it today.
You have to wonder how heavily beaded gowns such as this magificent Nemser survive 90 years or more on fine Georgette silk, and then have only minor concerns to mention!... I think It's always kind of a miracle when it happens, and happily it is so (here)! Even with that said, I do not recommend that this gown is worn by anyone, due to the importance of this rare NY designer who is known to have gowned a first lady. Also, the underlayer slip is intact with a few minor pinholes and few spots, but, it is even more ultra fine and gossamer! (It would have to be removed for the gown to be worn- it is strong enough to do so, but again, not recommended due the the historical significance here.)
Overall, the outer silk Georgette shell is in good condition with only an extremely slight "dryish" feeling, and so this gown could easily be put on a mannequin to display as it is. There is a minor amount of even, but SLIGHT overall age-related color fadeage (In folds on sash hip area, it appears just a bit pinker than nude seen elsewhere.). However, the thousands of beads and rhinestones are 99 percent intact, so only about 1 percent or less missing overall! Some have darkened with age. Only a very tiny amount of bead/ rhinestone loss over the years. (Amazing!) (A few of the latticework cutouts have had a few lines of beads missing- inconspicuous actually, and only a few, in just a few places. You really have to search to see them.) The beads sewn on the gown still seem overall fairly stable- always a blessing! Outer shoulders and straps are great too- not thinned from the weight. I suggest only periods of time on a padded display, or the heavy bead weight will eventually pull away the silk Georgette at the shoulders. Original hook/snap closure hardware with no rust or oxidation.There's a few very faint, pale, watery/ light tea colored droplets (about the size of a dime or smaller) on bodice area front/ and back, a few lower hem areas (could be tea/ water). There's a few tiny pinholes on bodice/ lower hems. One small area (under the top hem, on side, near pink velvet sash, on bottom layer) with a circular 10? pinholes, and a water spot had been backed by the silk velvet with silk thread some time ago to stabilize that area, yet keep the gown original. If this area had not been backed I would consider it fragile just right here. On the slip, both metallic straps are a bit stretched from original wearing and had been knotted tighter tops- knotted edge tips see a bit of wear. Hem of the slip has evidence that it had a very gossamer cream silk hem edge originally that has disintegrated over the decades. (Just a few bits of the gossamer silk and silk stitching left.) The folds of the velvet show a few tiny (less than 1/4") wear tears at a few of the folded edges from decades of being folded. None of this I consider to be at all detrimental. Unless you do museum quality conservation work if you decided to restore it, I would not clean this gown- I believe it would be too hard on all the beads and work, and you never know how colorfast the dyes and paints used here were. A really magnificent gown made by an important designer!
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