Tuesday, January 14, 2014

History's Runway: The Mourilyan Gown, 1740-60

English Style Gown
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In the Eighteenth Century, the sack-back gown, or robe à la française, was the most fashionable sort of woman's casual dress.  The sack-back gown got its name from the fabric at the back which was arranged in box pleats which fell loose from the shoulder to the floor with a slight train. In front, the gown was open, showing off a decorative embroidered stomacher and petticoat.

An alternative to the sack-back gown was the so-called "English style,"  a gown with a tightly fitting back, as seen in the example pictured above.  This lovely garment is made of silk damask in a pattern of large curling leaves typical of the 1740s.

We can see that the gown was altered in the 1750s to reshape the bodice and update the style of the sleeve cuffs. The silk gauze apron is decorative rather than practical. It is woven in a fashionable diaper (sort of a lozenge-shape) pattern with floral motifs.

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