Party Dresses & Evening Wear

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The “flapper" style silhouette is what typically comes to mind when thinking about 1920s women’s fashion. However, the decade featured a number of different styles and silhouettes, including what is called robe de style.

This fashion trend can be attributed the French couture designer Jeanne Lanvin, who was inspired by the robe à la française dresses of the 17th and 18th centuries. Her dresses were not only meant in invoke wealth and luxury, but were also offered as a “classic” and more modest alternative to straight cut chemises. 

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Image courtesy of The Underpinnings Museum

Robe de style dresses are defined by their straight cut bodices, combined with the fuller skirt which were often nearly floor length. Some skirts were so pronounced that they had to be supported by additional hoops or panniers, similar to the one shown here. 

This robe de style dress is more subtle, but still may have been worn with a fuller slip or petticoat to make the extension of the hip area more prominent. It is made of rich golden-yellow velvet and topped with a colorful silk and chiffon flower.

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The metallic lace and velvet party dress featured below would have been another a show-stopper. The fabric would have shimmered and sparkled anytime the wearer moved. The stamped blue velvet rose and leaf appliques, sewn into the lace pattern with metallic thread, are a unique touch. Similar varieties of appliques were typically used as a millinery accessory.

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This last dress features not only metallic embroidery detailing, but is also a perfect example of an Art Deco-inspired evening dress. 

It is made of an incredibly vibrant orange silk satin fabric (unfortunately now faded) with an overlay sewn with metallic thread. The pattern is symmetrical and geometric, mimicking the extremely delicate filigree metalwork that exemplified Art Deco jewelry. The drop waist is highlighted by a ziggurat pattern, most likely inspired by the stepped pyramids and towers discovered in the archaeological excavations throughout the decade.

Party Dresses & Evening Wear