Promenade dress (skirt, bodice and mantle)
Silk plush trimmed with silk fringe and braid, lined with silk and whalebone
Museum no. T.324&A&B-1977
Given by Madame Tussauds
Luxurious velvet dresses embellished with fringe trimmings were highly fashionable during the 1850s. In 1857 the 'Illustrated London News' announced: 'Fringe was never so greatly in demand as at the present time…Fringe may be said to be the most becoming of all trimmings on a lady's dress; it seems to possess the power of imparting lightness and suppleness to the movements of the wearer.'
When applied in rows, fringes also simulated flounces and made skirts look even wider. In this example the bodice is made with a basque, which was a separate extension below the waist, flaring out over the hips. The skirt is composed of two layers, with the top tier extending from the waistband as far as the fifth row of fringe. The bottom tier is attached to a taffeta underskirt. This accentuates the flounced effect of the fringe and helps to distribute the weight of the heavy skirt over the dome-shaped crinoline cage which would have been worn underneath.