Black silk crepe dress, Lucile

Black silk crepe dress, Lucile

Dress
Lucile (Lady Lucy Duff-Gordon, 1863-1935)
1910-2, London
Black silk crepe, edged with bands of black and cream silk, the neck fitted with machine-made black lace
Museum no. CIRC.645-1964
Worn by Miss Heather Firbank

The house of Lucile was renowned for its asymmetrical styles, of which this matt black silk crepe dinner dress is a perfect example. Set into a high waist, the bias-cut skirt is softly swathed over the left hip and the hem is extended into a triangular train. The cross-over bodice has a plunging V neck fitted with a machine-made black lace, while bands of cream and black silk decorate the neck and cuffs.

This is from the collection of Heather Firbank (1888-1954), daughter of the MP Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank. The dress is a half-mourning dress, meaning that it was worn in the later stages of mourning. Mourning etiquette was well controlled and what could be worn at each stage was rigidly prescribed.