European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

“Anticipation” of the Little Black Dress

1920sEuropean fashionMuzealne Mody

A guest post by Piotr Szaradowski on a stunning object from his collection

The focus of this post is a black evening dress decorated with beads and monkey fur. The dress is labelled ROLANDE/ 16. rue Vignon, Paris/ hiver 1920–1921/ nr 1694. It now belongs to the Muzealne Mody collection.

The dress is made of black crepe and has a very simple cut. It is made of two big rectangles of fabric sewn together on the shoulders and on the sides, but only from the waist line to the hem. The space from the shoulders to the waist remains open, turning the design into a bold statement, especially thinking that this dress was made in the 1920s. Just a few tucks help adjust the dress to the body shape: two on each shoulder and two on each side at waist height. In addition, three more rectangles of the same fabric are used. Very narrow (approx. 3 cm) stripes of fabric decorated with simple beaded applications flow from both shoulders to the back of the dress. The third of the rectangles of fabric is placed asymmetrically, on the left side, giving an interesting decorative effect. The dress is then decorated with other applications, which are asymmetrically arranged. The decorations are made of black shiny beads and strands of monkey fur.

This model of dress was published in the French edition of Vogue magazine in the November issue of 1920 (here, on p.20). The description accompanying the dress refers to the bronze dress and gold of the sash.

But there is also another description of the dress with an accompanying drawing in the MET Museum, in the collection of Jay Thorpe, New York (Spring-Fall 1921; i2086018_096 – or here)

The dress survived without a sash. In the short future it will be reconstructed, based on references mentioned above.