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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Culture:textile: United States (possibly); garment: American
Date Made:1926
Materials:textile: taupe crepe-back satin weave silk; off-white plain weave (taffeta) silk lining; Lame and ? knitted textile
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Greenfield (probably)
Measurements:Center Back (CB): 41 in; 104.1 cm); Center Front (CF): 41 in; 104.1 cm)
Accession Number:  HD 2012.23.1
Credit Line:Gift of Sylvia Smead Gallagher

Woman's two piece wedding dress of taupe, crepe-back satin, worn by Ruth Searles Smead (1899-1991) of Greenfield, Massachusetts, on her marriage to Perley J. Smead (1899-1991) on August 28, 1926. The two-piece (bodice and skirt) construction of this formal garment is unusual, as typically wedding dresses were one-piece creations at this tim), and reflects the influence of sportswear on women's dress, just taking off in the 1920s. The January 1926 issue of Harper's Bazar noted the sportswear influence (and the combining of separates) in more formal evening styles of women's clothing. The garment's simplicity belies a more complicated use of the main textile in three ways. The bodice uses the astin side to make a long sleeved, unfitted tunic or blouse with a collar. The crepe back of the satin is used to make a linear, almost color-blocked monochromatic design down the center front and forming a wide bodice hem. Finally, the skirt is made up the fashion fabric (satin) placed on the horizontal (the first skirt tier ending in an unhemmed selvage edge), and is two-tiered. The proper left side of both skirt tiers is pleated 3" to allow for more freedom of movement when walking while not disrupting the narrow, columnar line of the garment. The skirt is attached to a cream colored, plain weave silk lining bodice, which is then covered by the fashion bodice or tunic. The fit of the garment as a whole is loose and tubular, following mid-1920s fashions. Bust 40.5", waist 40.5", hips 43". Hem circumference (with pleat closed) is 45"; hem circumferemce with pleat open is 51". The dress came with a small amount of black and metallic (lame?) knitted fabric, two pieces of wich are backed with the satin, that may have been worn with the dress at the time of the 1926 wedding or later. A matching tie of satin, partially finished and with evidence that it was once attached to a gament, also survives. Some cut stitching threads also exist on the dress itself, suggesting post-wedding alterations. (See also 2012.23.2-.9).

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