CoutureGRAM: 1935 Black Evening Dress

9/22/2015

Today I am showing you a very beautiful piece from my Museum findings. It is a black silk crepe dress, with intricate gold thread embroidery and an amazing cut. 

It has been two months since I started volunteering at the Nicosia's Leventis Museum, and I was able to get an idea about their 20th century costume archives. Located in the heart of Nicosia in a beautiful old mansion, the Museum focuses on the history of the city. Thus, it is not surprising that it is mostly the national dress that gets the privileged attention and treatment. 

It hurts me to say that modern clothing doesn't enjoy the same attention and love. When a garment is donated it is assigned a number; then a brief, sometimes not quite accurate, line describing the piece in entered into a database, before, finally, being stored away on hangers in small cabinets. Only very few of those piece end up being exhibited in the Museum gallery. 

I must say that there are no haute couture pieces from the famous designer ateliers in the collection (I secretly hoped I'd find a piece from Dior or Gres). Most of the pieces are custom-made. Yet, while many pieces made after 50s are not particularly striking, they got some real gems made in Nicosia in 20s, 30s and 40s.

This dress was made in 1935 and is in dare need of restoration - you will see it on the images. As for the images, the Museum allowed me to use them only on my blog, so I wanted to ask you to respect this condition in case you wanted to share. I am sorry for that limitation - I know there are quite a few vintage aficionados among you. What you could do though, is pin them or link to them. 

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia
IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia
I am in love with this sleeve - it has such a simple cut, but the arm slit decorated with the gold thread embroidery and the pleating at the wrist make it strikingly unique. I made a few more images to show you the details.

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

IMAGE: The Leventis Municipal Museum of Nicosia

The dress was made in turbulent times for the island, then under the British rule. Nevertheless, in the years following the World War I, the island benefited from its position as a supply depot for British armies in the Near East, but this was felt more in the urban area, while the rural population suffered from chronic poverty. Meanwhile, Cyprus was going through a period of transition. In 1913 the first power plant was built in Nicosia, in 30s the all-island manual public telephone system was introduced and water closets were increasingly installed in Cyprus households. As an interesting fact for us sewing enthusiasts is that a mid-40s census report recorded 855 seamstresses only in Nicosia. One of them made this beautiful dress. Now imagine a woman wearing it, driven to a reception through narrow cobble-stoned streets of the walled city on one of the first cars on the islands...


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7 comments

  1. its really lovely, such pretty seams at the back - the shaping on must be exquisite. what dress size do you think it is, it looks petite. I went to an exhibition yesterday (of an Irish designer in Dublin) and its interesting to see the different dress sizes (from tiny to matronly) as fashion magazines will only generally show the same dress sizes (small). and seeing hand detailing and attention to detail is so inspiring

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  2. That dress is beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing the photos, as well as the history of the island during that time!

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  3. What a great dress, Marina. I just found your blog and was stunned. I certainly keep this embroidered dress from
    Nicosia in mind when choosing a design for one of my next dresses. A friend from India just brought me back some
    very fine goldthread, I'm all set! I will now return to your blog - already saw that we have a lot of similar interests - so
    I will read every little bit. Thanks for the inspiration and kind regards from Amsterdam!

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  4. It is really nice coat. Thank you so much for sharing this dress, the history of the island during that time.

    African Wax Print, African George Fabric

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  5. It is lovely, thank you for posting! What is the fabric?

    ReplyDelete
  6. It is lovely, thank you for posting! What is the fabric?

    ReplyDelete

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