Linen, with silk organza collar and cuffs and silk twill bow
Museum no. T.17-1960
Worn by Miss Heather Firbank
This simple 'seaside' dress formed part of Miss Heather Firbank's wardrobe. She was daughter of the affluent Member of Parliament Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank. The dress has a simple collar and spotted cravat. Its fresh youthful style conjures up images of summer holidays during the years before the First World War (1914-1918).
Cravats and foulards were popular at the time on blouses as well as dresses. They were inspired by earlier masculine styles in neckwear. In August 1912 The Queen magazine described 'the prettiest style of Robespierre collar, finishing with a Latin Quartier cravat of blue and white birds-eye spot silk'.
In 1921 Heather Firbank's clothes were packed into trunks and put into storage, where they remained for the next 35 years. In 1960 the V&A acquired well over 100 items from her wardrobe. This collection forms an invaluable record of a stylish and wealthy woman's taste between about 1905 and 1920. Many items were shown in an exhibition at the V&A in 1960. It was called 'Lady of Fashion: Heather Firbank and what she wore between 1908 and 1921'.