This weekend’s Wow! is all about using the dramatic potential of black velvet and kicking it up a notch.
1900-1901 black silk velvet with cut-out decorations in Liberty style, garnished with chenille drawstring on the triangular neckline. Italian manufacture (Naples or Palermo). Collection Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti.
The image at the top is a portrait by Giovanni Boldini (1845-1931) of Donna France Florio wearing the dress. Isn’t that enormous cascade of peals fabulous?!
I love how the pattern and placement of the cut-outs lend a bit of trompe l’œil effect to that, from a distance, the eye sees a smaller, very shapely solid velvet dress “emerge” from the openwork…a “little black dress” hidden within the larger garment, so to speak.
I’m also glad to have found an extant garment that displays not only the removable guimpe but lets us see the difference it makes in taking the foundation dress from a flirty ball gown to something more appropriate for solemn or serious occasions.
This gown gives me a new level of respect for the versatility of velvet.