House of Worth | c. 1905
This fabric is outstanding with the celestial theme which was a favorite in the House of Worth from its inception. The textile was woven à la disposition with the stars in graduated sizes, especially to be used on a skirt. The magic of this dress is in the three different materials used to make the star pattern, woven into the textile with both a satin and velvet surface and an appliqué pattern in a slightly different color and texture. In the light the stars would twinkle as the wearer moved and the light caught the different textures of the stars. At the same time, the rhinestones would light up the bodice.
Vionnet | c. 1936
Layers of gossamer, yet strong, silks cut on the bias, with free-floating ties, make this evening dress an exemplar of Vionnet’s work. The design also features a pastel foliate print of the type favored by the designer, here with a pattern of fern leaves. The satin ties of the dress were originally held by a jade buckle, which was not received with the gift.
Charles James | c. 1946
The construction of this dress reconfigures the body by having the harder draped fabric brought forward and soft fabric at the back, the opposite from the norm, giving the appearance of front and back being reversed. The startling color contrast and different reflective qualities of satin, wool-backed crepe and faille in the skirt reinforce this deception. The form of the hips bears witness to James’ claims of being a sculptor of fabric. (Metropolitan Museum)
Emile Pingat | c. 1895
This beautifully constructed Pingat cape gains a rich and elegant appearance from its use of coordinating black beadwork embroidery on alternating flat and pleated panels of contrasting materials. That elegance can particularly be seen in the front where the embroidery on the two flannel panels line up to create a larger cohesive design oriented horizontally, as opposed to the other panels which are vertically oriented. (Metropolitan Museum)
Mary, Countess of Howe | Thomas Gainsborough