Daily Archives: May 11, 2011

18th Century Costume Archives: Embroidered Dutch Wedding Gown

Excepting the Rijksmuseum’s inelegant head covering, which frankly detracts from the presentation, this example of a Dutch wedding gown is a masterpiece of embroidery.  The motif, relieved by a restrained bodice and plain sleeves, summons the look of a sartorial garden wherein 17th century fabric–ribbonesque mustard scrollwork, flowers ranging from carmine to blush to blue, all on a backdrop of the lightest blue silk–meets 18th century style.

What’s interesting here is that the large patterned embroidery is actually a throwback to the 1600s while the gown’s silhouette seems distinctly middle 18th century.   There is, however, a confusing element involved when dating this gown.  Exaggerated panniers, which widened a woman’s hips to staggering proportions, originated in the 17th century Spanish court.  From there, the style spread to the French, then was later adopted by Europe’s remaining fashionable courts around 1718-1719.  

Since this particular gown was worn by Helena Slicher, a Dutch woman, the creation date of 1759 seems reasonable as trends typically spread outward from France and lingered long after they were au dernier gout back in Paris.  But, it could also be an example of a gown worn by Slicher’s mother and recycled due to fashion’s cyclical tendencies.  Either way, it’s a colorful example of an 18th century wedding gown when the majority tended toward silks of pastel blue, silver, or taupe.