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item number #SOLD0005-20090207-14

MAJESTIC 1888 Victorian Amethyst silk-satin Reception gown with Gilt appliques

MAJESTIC and museum quality really come to mind when I think about this amazing, one of a kind gown. One of the absolutely finest bustle dresses I've ever encountered- it was wonderfully stored and cared for. I'd swear it was a court gown if it had short sleeves- due to the smart styling and tailoring. The heavy weight silk satin mommie shell (very substantial) is shimmering, flexible and lustrous with health. A stunning amethyst/ grape color. There are contrasting inserts on the sleeves, plastron, and over skirt of heavy weight pink lavender silk faille/ taffeta brocade that has a large silk satin opened lavender cabbage rose motif. Amazingly, the dress is a decent size, and scarcely touched by time.

The bodice is very tailored and curvy, with a form-fitted, fully boned (whalebone) interior in the corset style with cane buscs near the hand sewn holes (has the original twisted metal ties with brass enders). The sleeves have small poufs at the shoulders, leading down to cuffed and "V" contrasted 3/4 sleeves (looks almost like an 1870's application here, but this dress has never been remade) and frothy, ornately flowered Brussels needle lace with 3" scallops! The gathered lace neckline is just stunning. There is more of the fabulous Brussels lace lines the square neck in a wide swath that is adjustable and gathered to stand delicately at the back of the neck, with a covert row of the lace underneath for modesty- as this bodice was made for a busty, curvy woman who wanted to hint at cleavage (two rows of long, original ivory silk grograin ties make it adjustable). A double row of large "yo-yo" spoke appliques that look like tatted spider's webs in the centers are made of thick, gleaming silver gilt thread (you can smell the silver in it- unmistakable). There's an enormous amount of these wonderful appliques double lining both sides of the front of the bodice, around the neck and repeatedly down the skirt side and front. Must have cost a fortune at the time to have all of those hand made! Finely piped only at the waist bottom. The inside is neatly tailored of ivory silk surrah twill, heavy, but soft silk taffeta lines the bones, there's a sturdy silk moire' petersham around the waist, and all the edges have been firmly and deftly overcast. Also, another hook enclosure (with all complete brass hooks and eyes) to make sure the bodice doesn't ride. Wonderfully made. As you can see I can run on and on about this amazing outfit- pretty rare to run across a dress like this.

This gorgeous and unusual skirt is unbelievably substantial. It has incredible weight and body from the extreme tailoring (I think there's stiffener inside in layers, like a buckram- to give it so much natural form). The silk brocade faille over skirt in the front and side is heavier than what you's expect from the photos. The side sweep, and folds of bustling are crimped nicely, and rustles as it moves. The side flaps frame the overskirt in heavyweight lavender silk-satin. There are more rows of the silvered appliques, and then it has a 7 deeply gored skirt in the back folds that are specifically made for a very distended bustle to support the weight of the rear skirt and heavy, sweeping cathedral style train. I wouldn't be surprised if the skirt weighed 15 lbs! The skirt innards are made of a feather-weight silk taffeta that's shockingly clean, an Irish linen cotton back where the bustle unties from the waist, two areas for a spring steel bustle to be added for support (it doesn't look as though they were ever utilized though). The skirt sweep has ivory checkered, stiffened buckram, and finely pleated six rows of dust ruffles. This skirt was made to be worn supported with much fullness at the hip (makes the deep point at the bodice waist lay flat if the hips are widened or made wider with padded hips) and a study (and large) bustle graced the back like a waterfall.


Whew! Are you still here after all that writing? Well, here's very little to tell about the condition, but I'm picky so, here we go... The silk-satin and brocade are strong. I find no weakness at all. The silvered gilt appliques all have light age tarnish as does the metal corset ties. They are all strong; however- no holes/ breaks, as is the fine grograin ties at the neck, the inner bodice adjustment, and the petersham. Brass hooks and eyes are all there, no losses, and no rust; of course. The twilled surrah bodice lining is strong and pretty clean, but there are darkened perspiration rings on the inside (both nearest stays at the tops are discolored) that go out to the outside on both sides (about 3" round on each) but since the outside color's so dark, they really aren't distracting. There's a 1/4" faint tan spill is near the deep point at the waist near the busc- but amazingly no wear spots there. The Brussels lace is lightly yellowed, slightly darkened with age or body oil (I think this was earlier lace due to the intricate, fine flower pattern.) There are some darker soil areas from oil? and a few matchhead sized holes (not bad considering the delicate nature of this type of lace.) On one of the frothy lace sleeves there are about 5? eraser head sized rust colored spots. Although they could be rust, I really don't think so. The lace is more ecru on the sleeves.

The skirt silk satin is in remarkable condition- even the outside waistband. Brass hooks and eyes are all there, hidden fold side pocket is all there. I think I found a pinhole once but couldn't find it again. I think it's near one of the sides. I found a very faint (4") watery, tea-like spot on one of the skirt lapels near the bottom of the hem. Extremely unnoticeable. The bustled overskirt is faded allover, noticeable when the bustling folds (which a few had to be re-tacked as some had come apart when I received the gown) are pulled apart. There's also about 6? 1" or smaller faint tea-like watery stains from where I think she lightly spilled her tea. One has a 1" larger watery ring around it from where I think she might have tried to daub it. I found a few other minor water spots too. This is all pretty mild stuff, but I'm trying to be completely thorough, so it sounds more involved than it is. For strength, the silk tissue waistband on the inside had been reenforced with same type fabric silk taffeta and hand stitching where the immense weight of the dress was pulling it apart (what was the maker thinking?)The two silk tissue taffeta panels opening to the fold over bustle fabric have been replaced with the same self fabric for strength and wearablity. Unfortunately, Although the silk taffeta is amazingly intact (usually it's completely gone.) with only a few tiny separations or burs, and the color is very clean- no stains- and has been reenforced, care must be used when lifting the skirt (pick up from the back where the cotton is- not the silk tissue waist front- otherwise waist lining will tear.) and must be worn with supporting garments or the fabric will break down. One day I think the rest of the original silk taffeta liner at the top will need to be replaced. But for now, it is great, wearable with gentleness. A true "A" list gown. Although there are no tags that I've found, I wouldn't be surprised if Worth didn't make this gown due to the strong shell architecture and high quality fabric. I think this would be a magnificent display gown. One of the best- ever.

This item is sold and no longer available.

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appliques Gilt with gown Reception silk-satin Amethyst Victorian 1888 MAJESTIC

Estimated Current size Approx.:

Unsure about size? Go to the page
Size Shoulders BustSkirt WaistEstimated Length from top of shoulder tip to bottom of hemEstimated Wear-abilityEstimated Underarm conditionMaker's Tags/ MarksEstimated condition ratingEstimated overall condition scale of 1-10
Medium (6-8)15-16."34".26."54."Weak on lining waist innards from weight.Underarm marks.None.Very EXCELLENT.9 3/4

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