This gorgeously vulgar afternoon dress bespeaks the ostentatious lifestyle of its nouveau-riche owner, combining an undulating feather brocade with velvet, lace, and cut-steel beadwork. Only a hand as skilled as Worth’s could have plausibly combined such disparate elements into one garment, and only a client of Mrs. Brice’s scale—with her 36-inch corseted waist—could have carried it off.
Bodice: Boned, fitted, waist-length; wide draped brocade revers, applied beads at edges; brocade stand collar, integral lace jabot; velvet gigot sleeves, flared cuff, brocade lining, lace ruffle at wrist; center front button closure.
Skirt: Floor-length with train, flat in front, full in back; brocade overskirt open right of center front, steel cut beads at edges, velvet panel at opening; pleat left of center front, knee to hem.
The bodice body and split overskirt is made from the elaborately patterned brocade. Velvet is used for the sleeves, front yoke, and underskirt panels. The boned bodice is closely fitted and has an asymmetrical velvet yoke, wide draped brocade revers, and a brocade stand collar. Its front extends to the waist with six tails at the back to create a very small bustle effect. It has button and buttonhole closure at center front. The velvet gigot sleeves balloon outward and the sleeve cap is stiffened and supported by a shorter undersleeve. The edges of the collar and skirt opening are trimmed with copper-and-silver and silver metallic cord, and steel cut beads.
Typically, unmatched seams indicate that a Worth garment has been modified, but in this unaltered exception most of the structural seams are not matched. Only the center back seam bears the typical mirrored imagery.
Worn by Mrs. Calvin Brice.
Anonymous Gift, 1942.