Cotton, mother of pearl
Worn by Sue Bullitt Chenowith
Gift of Mrs. Kempton Dunn
Sue Bullitt Chenowith married Hugh Barrett in 1884. The couple lived in Louisville, Kentucky, where Mr. Barrett was instrumental in the founding of four Presbyterian churches. Mrs. Kempton Dunn, whose family lived in New Canaan for three generations, and are distant relatives of the Barretts, donated the dress.
The ensemble includes three pieces: an underskirt, a draped overskirt with a train, and a tightly fitted jacket. The silhouette of the gown gets its shape from the mid-1880s, when the “second bustle era” comes into play, and bustles that had previously deflated started to grow. The intricate cotton voile draping overlaying the skirt illustrates an additional element of style prevalent in the mid-1880s.