Out of the Gilded Age – Edith Kingdon Gould

With the debut of the new series The Gilded Age, it seems that fashions of the 1880s have undergone a renewed interest and of course, nothing could please us more. 😁 However, you’ll note that the ball gown depicted below is actually from the 1890s BUT it does project many of the characteristics in fashion during the late 19th Century in that there was a constant back-and-forth struggle between simple and complex designs- dresses that employed a lot of trim and decoration and those that relied more on the silhouette lines and the basic fashion fabric. This dress is just one example of this yin and yang of style. But it’s interesting to note that by the 1890s, this had calmed down some and that much of 1890s style focused on letting the silhouette and fabric speak for itself (helped along by skillful corsetry, no doubt). Anyway, enjoy and we’ll have more commentary on the Gilded Age in the near future. 😉

Today the theme is burgundy velvet and what better way to show it off than in an evening dress by Worth. 🙂 Better yet, we have both the dress AND a portrait of the individual that it was made for! The itself was made by Maison Worth around 1898 and belonged to Edith Kingdon Gould, the wife of railroad tycoon George Jay Gould and is on display at Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, New York; Lyndhurst had belonged to the Goulds at one time and is now a museum belonging to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1898; Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown NY

The evening dress is interesting in that it’s a relatively simple style, unadorned by any trim or decoration (if you don’t count the fur stole she wears with the dress in her portrait). The fashion fabric is a ruby red silk velvet that creates a clear jewel tone. Overall, the effect is very restrained, reflecting Ms. Kingdon-Gould’s status married to a wealthy railroad tycoon (she had been an actress prior to marrying Gould). And now for the portrait itself:

Théobald Chartran, Portrait of Edith Kingdon Gould, c. 1898

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of information available in regard to the dress or the portrait- they were part of an exhibition at Lyndhurst that’s ended. This dress provides a fascinating snapshot into a bygone era made more interesting in that the dress style is very restrained when compared with some  of the more over-the-top designs of the era.

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