Dresses by Lucile

13 June 2013

Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon.

Lucy Sutherland, later to be better known as Lady Duff Gordon was born in London on the 13th of June in 1863. These days, Lucy is best known for being one of the most glamorous and controversial survivors of the sinking of the Titanic (controversial because it was alleged at the time that her husband had bribed crew members in charge of their lifeboat not to let anyone else on board lest it capsized) but at the time she was considered a celebrity in her own right, being the chief designer of the ultra luxe Lucile label, which was well known for its use of diaphanous romantic fabrics, fine lace and soft sugared almond colours.

I absolutely love clothes from the early years of the twentieth century when fashion seemed to be in such a state of flux as women moved away from the wide long skirts and furbelow of the nineteenth century and instead embraced a simpler line, less restrictive corsetry (eventually abandoning it altogether) and higher hem lines. It must have been an exciting time and I think Lucile’s designs really exemplify the more romantic side of the period.

Lucile label. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Anyway, let’s have a look at some truly romantic examples of Lucile’s designs, now all housed in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Evening gown, Lucile, c1910. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening gown, Lucile, c1915. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, c1916. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, 1916-18. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, 1915-16. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, 1916-18. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, c1918. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Wedding dress, Lucile, 1915. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Evening dress, Lucile, 1916-17. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

How beautiful. Due to the fragility of the original materials, most of them look distinctly tatty nowadays but I really like that as it makes them seem even more romantic, like something you could easily find hidden away in a trunk in your grandmother’s attic. Wow, can you imagine?

I think my favourite is definitely the black dress as it is EXACTLY the sort of thing that I like – a bit tattered and goth, like it’s been dragged through a graveyard backwards. How about you?

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