This sky blue silk faille dress from the early 1870s was designed and labeled by Mme. Gabrielle / Robes & Confections / 205 Rue St. Honoré in Paris. While in her label, “confections” refers to fashion and clothing, the elaborate white lace and frayed silk ruching along with the sweet blue color give this garment the impression of a delicious bon-bon. By the 1870s, the hoop skirt of the 1860s was scooped to the back and became the bustle. A train typically puddled or fishtailed behind the wearer.

We have chosen this dress for our current exhibition, Fashion in Fiction, to represent the high style and couture fashions so beautifully described in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence. Mme Gabrielle, while not as well-known now, was as respected in her day as Charles Worth and other top Parisian designers. These designers set the style for women in Europe and America to follow. We have another Mme. Gabrielle gown (coming in December!) in the collection that was featured in our exhibit, Charleston Couture in 2012. The gowns were probably worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy (1841-1902) who married Henry Shelton Sanford in 1864, both from wealthy American families. Gertrude was born in Philadelphia; they married in Paris and then lived in Brussels for a time. The dresses were given to the museum in 1979 by her granddaughter, Gertrude Sanford Legendre.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday