M966.53.1.1-3 | Evening dress

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Evening dress
1770-1780, 18th century
Purchase from Mlle Annette Terroux
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Dress (85)
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Keys to History

This is the dress worn by Miss Terroux to the Historical Fancy Dress Ball. The fabric is pink silk taffeta and the weaving technique used to create the blurred floral motif is called chiné à la branche. In this technique the silk warp is put on the loom and printed with the motif. Then the weaving is carried out, and as the warp threads slip and shift slightly, the blurred effect is created. Such fabrics were very much in vogue in the 1760s and were woven in both Spitalfields in England and Lyons in France.

The construction of the dress dates to the early 1780s. The dress includes a gauze apron trimmed with the same silk which, in the 1780s, was worn fashionably over the skirt. Both Miss Terroux and her mother chose to wear it underneath. The fancy dress use of the garment explains why there are machine-stitched darts in the bodice, and why it is accompanied by a machine-stitched underskirt. The sewing machine only came into common use in the late 1850s.

  • What

    This 18th-century dress was worn as fancy dress on at least two different occasions in the late 19th century.

  • Where

    The silk may have been woven in either England or France. The dress most probably was worn in Montreal in the 1780s.

  • When

    The style and construction of the dress are about two decades later than the fabric, which was woven in the 1760s. Such discrepancies are typical in garments from this period. The dress may have been made many years after the fabric was purchased or may have been altered from an earlier style.

  • Who

    Family genealogy indicates that the most likely original owner of the dress was Marie-Josephte Courreaud de La Coste, who married Jean-Baptiste-Philippe-Charles d'Estimauville in 1782 in Montreal.