Both this 1902 pink silk brocade ball gown and the 1890s blue
velvet evening dress on exhibit are very good examples of poor
handling and ill-advised attempts to alter them from their original
sizes. A professional conservator has examined both garments
and submitted the following outline of work that will need to
be completed to return these garments to even an approximation
of their original condition.
|1902 Silk and Beaded Ball Gown
This is the only true ball gown in the Museum's collection,
but alterations that were made to make the dress larger have
destroyed its original shape and design. The areas most severely
damaged are at the waist, the neckline, and the back. Gussets
(triangular shaped pieces of fabric) have been sewn into the
waistline in order to make it nearly 6 inches bigger. Removing
the original gathers and lengthening the shoulders have created
a false lower neckline. The bosom, originally designed as a monobosom
(a softly pleated area disguising the chest area) no longer has
fullness and sags over the waistline. The original back darts,
as well as a large double box pleat in the back, have been taken
out to accommodate the expanded waistline.
Fortunately, many beautiful aspects remain. The metallic embroidery
and crystal and pearl beads used for the tracery are in good
condition. The delicate sleeves of silk chiffon and the many
ruffles in the train are intact.
Although restoration will involve some educated guesswork, repairs
Restoring this dress could cost from $1000 to $1100, and all
repairs would be made by hand, using silk thread.
If this gown were in mint condition its value would be $3000