And Now For A Tea Gown From Maison Worth

Today’s video feature is a tea gown from circa 1893 that was made by Maison Worth and worn by either Helen Olivia Brice (1871–1950) or Margaret Katherine Brice (1873–1911):

Here’s are a few stills of the dress:

Worth, Tea Gown, c. 1893; Museum of the City of New York (MCNY 42.146.10).

As expected with a tea gown, it has a relatively unstructured silhouette and appears to be one-piece with no distinct waist. It’s unclear whether the gown is a princess line but given the nature of the tea gown style, probably so. While the sleeves are gigot or leg-of-mutton, they’re relatively muted fitting in perfectly with the 1893 time frame. The fashion fabric is a voided velvet with a dark blue silk velvet pile combined with a lighter purple silk satin to create a floral pattern. The bodice top is cut on a curve, reminiscent of early 16th Century Renaissance styles, and the area between above is filled in with guipure lace going all the way to the neck. Similar lace is also used on the lower sleeves to create a glove-like appearance. The close-up of the bodice below gives a better idea of the fabric:

The fashion fabric takes on a very fluorescent appearance, no doubt designed to make maximum use of the gaslight or early electrical lighting typical of interior lighting during this period.1There are a number of examples of Maison Worth’s work that utilize this fluorescent design effect with the fashion fabric- The Madame Greffuhle tea gown is a good example. The bodice top is trimmed with a strip of gold bullion and above it is the guipure lace insert.

And the interior of the bodice. The bodice is lightly boned and appears to have been flatlined in a pink silk satin combined with an ivory (it looks like a pistachio color but that’s probably the lighting) petersham and bone casings. This tea gown when worn must have been been amazing sight and it’s clear that this was intended for a more formal in-home affair than simply taking tea. 🙂



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