Aesthetic Dress Movement c. 1894

This gown would have been worn as a ‘tea gown’, as an informal ‘at home’ dress for the late afternoon, or even as a simple dinner dress.

It was made for a member of the Liberty family, who owned a store in Regent Street, London. The green and yellow damask was registered as ‘Hop and Ribbon’ by Liberty’s in 1892-1893.

In 1884 Liberty’s had opened a dress department under the guidance of the designer E. W. Godwin. He was a member of the Aesthetic Movement, which favoured ‘artistic’ dress for women based on classical, medieval, Pre-Raphaelite and Renaissance clothing. The gown is close to Walter Crane’s designs for Aesthetic dress in Aglaeia, the journal of the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union. The ‘greenery-yallery’ colours are a feature of Aesthetic taste, while the epaulettes and high-waisted, dark green velvet overdress are historical references.

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