Figured silk and chiffon dress, Sara Mayer & F. Morhanger

Figured silk and chiffon dress, Sara Mayer & F. Morhanger

Dress
Sara Mayer & F. Morhanger (designed and made by)
1889-92
Paris
Figured silk, overlaid with chiffon, velvet ribbon, machine lace, with striped velvet
Museum no. T.270&A-1972
Given by Lord and Lady Fairhaven

This dress features a high, upstanding collar, which is a distinctive and fashionable feature of 1880s daywear. The sleeves sit close to the line of the body, as opposed to the 1890s when they were exaggerated into a 'leg of mutton' shape. The body itself is curvy, with an emphasised hourglass waist created by a rigid whalebone corset.

It is elaborately trimmed. Many high-end dressmakers of the late 19th century emulated the work of the House of Worth, which produced the most luxurious gowns created from bold French silks, combined with ingenious design touches in embroidery, lace and chiffon.

It was worn by one of the two Rogers sisters, Cara or Anna, daughters of a wealthy American industrialist. Cara Rogers later became Lady Fairhaven - she was a 'Dollar Princess', one of several heiresses who came to Britain in the late 19th century, and married into the British aristocracy bringing much-needed glamour and financial capital. Lady Fairhaven kept several spectacular outfits bought in Paris and New York for her sister and herself in the 1880s and 1890s.