This dress was donated by Jane Kirkbride (née Harriett Jane Peacock), who married her husband, David, in New York City in March 1950. He was a WWII veteran and longtime resident of New Canaan. They raised their three children on Lambert Road in New Canaan, and Mrs. Kirkbride served as president of the New Canaan Garden Club in 1972.
This blush pink evening gown dates back to the early 1900s and can be identified in this way by the puff sleeves and full, trumpet-shaped skirt. Part of the ongoing research process as we digitize the Museum’s clothing and textile collection includes making sure the dates for each gown are as accurate as possible. Original records indicated that the gown was worn c. 1908-1909. However, upon further evaluation, the volume of the skirt indicates that this dress is an earlier style.
Edwardian evening dress favored light pastels, and popular fabrics included satin, lace, chiffon, silk crepe, and tulle. Square necklines with off-the-shoulder sleeves were a perfect way for young, unmarried women to showcase a little bit of skin, while mature and married ladies preserved their modesty with sheer or lace necks and long elbow-length sleeves. Most ballgowns and dinner dresses fancied short puff sleeves, or wide bell shapes. This featured gown has heavy smocking on the waist and sleeves that serves both as a decorative and a shaping element.
The label on the interior of the waist reads “H. Luey New York & Brooklyn”. Herbert Luey (1860-1916) was an American designer who made evening gowns. Not much information can be found on the specific designer, however a few of his dresses can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as various other institutions across the country.