A springtime delight, this 1870s lavender silk moiré bodice is beautifully ornamented with embroidered eyelet and lavender chenille. The front opening is covered with ruched cream chiffon. Lined with lavender taffeta, it has 15 encased stays along with a white ribbon inner waistband, bearing a label from M. O’Brien / Robes / 266 West 38th St., N.Y. Most likely, the bodice had a matching skirt. It was probably worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy Sanford (1841-1902).

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

Rose silk faille dress, 1870s. Labeled Mme Gabrielle / Robes & Confections / 205 Rue St. Honoré, this elegant creation was designed by one of the premier couturiers of the 1860s and 1870s. The floral embroidery ornaments the bodice and the skirt, with its bustle and train. It was most likely worn by Gertrude Ellen Dupuy (1841-1902) who married Henry Shelton Sanford in 1864, both of wealthy American families. Gertrude was born in Philadelphia; they married in Paris and then lived in Brussels for a time. The dress was given to the museum in 1979 by her granddaughter, Gertrude Sanford Legendre.

A few weeks ago, we shared another Mme Gabrielle dress, also from the 1870s. The one today is perhaps even more luscious, adorned with magnificent floral embroidery. Parisian designers used embroidery ateliers or workshops to complete this kind of work, designed specifically to fit the cut of the gown. The bodice has 3/4 sleeves and a squared neckline, trimmed with white net lace. The buttons are covered to match the dress. It is lined with white silk and has encased stays, silk covered “bust improvers” and an inside waistband that bears the maker’s name and address. The long flowing skirt has a pleated front panel of cream satin; the back fits over a bustle and extends into a fairly long train, reinforced with pleated, stiffened gauze.

This dress came to the museum with a few extra pieces. Two are very obviously belts – one appears to have been cut from another piece that we just can’t figure out. It’s an odd rectangle, but is finished nicely (except for the cut-out) and even has two weights sewn into the hem. Any suggestions? The other piece is large and embroidered – could it be an alternate front skirt panel? Perhaps Mrs. Sanford thought it was too much and switched it out for the pleated satin. Email us at info@charlestonmuseum.org if you have a good idea!

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

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

Wouldn’t this be perfect for a Halloween party? In the 1880s that is…

This bodice or jacket has it all – it is black silk faille ornamented with applied floral braid down the front and over the entire dolman-style sleeves. All around the front are silk tassels and covered wooden beads, not to mention long, black lace extensions over the front. The back sits nicely over a bustle. It is lined with black satin and has an inner bodice of black net, hooks and eyes in front. There is a single hook and eye closure at front waist.

This incredible piece bears a woven label: “White, Howard & Co., 25 West 16th St., New York” which was a high-end woman’s clothier in the late 19th and early 20th century. It came to the Museum in 1979 with a large group of designer clothing from Gertrude Sanford Legendre, things that were worn by her, her mother and her grandmother. This amazing garment could have been worn by her mother, Ethel Sanford (1873-1924) or her grandmother, Gertrude Ellen Dupuy Sanford (1841-1901). The whole family was quite wealthy and chose some of the finest clothes available.

View other items from the Legendre collection:

  1. 1920s evening dress
  2. 1880s dress by Worth
  3. Mme. Virot hat
  4. 1920s  parasol
  5. Worth evening coat
  6. 1890s Worth dress
  7. Fortuny dress and evening coat
  8. 1920s marabou cape


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

Light green satin evening dress, c. 1932. This stylish gown with a magnificent Art Deco design rhinestone ornamentation on the back was worn by the donor’s sister, Eleanor Middleton Rutledge Hanson (1894-1966) for her second court visit at Buckingham Palace in 1932. There is a matching shoulder cape.

Eleanor met Annapolis graduate Ralph Trowbridge Hanson at the Charleston Navy Yards and married him in 1915. His Naval service took him to many posts, including London where he served at the assistant naval attaché at the American Embassy. While in England, the Hansons were commanded to appear twice at the Court of St. James while Andrew W. Mellon was the American Ambassador.

This dress is currently on exhibit in Charleston Couture. Come visit it for yourself!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new 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