Young woman's fawn cotton velvet printed with orange, yellow, brown and black flowers and leaves; dolman sleeves with gathered cuffs and deep, gathered, turned-down collar edged with orange and fawn ostrich feathers. Lined with ivory silk with ruffled band inside collar; cotton interlining; inside label woven in yellow on ivory "Kendal Milne and Co. Harrods Ltd. Manchester Maids Costume Department" (Kendal's were taken over by Harrods during World War I).
The straight simple dresses of the mid-1920s lent themselves particularly well to bold large-scale surface decoration, embroidered, woven or printed. Worn for Ascot with a wide brimmed silk trimmed hat, this smart summer outfit represented the height of sophistication with its nod to exoticism. It has been cut as a long simple tube, providing a blank canvas for Molyneux's striking Japanese printed silk, and apart from the dropped waist, the image is uninterrupted by seams or fastenings. For evening or cocktail parties, beading was a more typical decoration for twenties dresses, again using the flat front of the dress as an ideal display medium. Molyneux (1891-1974) trained under Lucile (Lady Duff Gordon) and opened his own fashion house in Paris in 1919. His simply cut, elegant designs earned him a place as a favourite among royals. He was also highly respected in the fashion world, and no less a figure than Christian Dior considered him to be one of his greatest predecessors, and a world class couturier.
Place of creation
© Manchester Art Gallery