5.31.2009

Crane dress mystery.


This dress, among many others, was a gift. I was in high school at the time and involved in costuming school theatre productions. That year we were doing the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" and I got to make all the over the top hats for it. Someone saw my work and liked it, and asked who the milliner was, and was told it was a student who wore vintage everyday. This person then invited me to their house and gave me pieces of their own collection. The collection itself was amazing, some she had kept from family members, and some she had purchased. I took home an arm full of clothing, including a black silk taffeta Victorian petticoat, late 40s navy blue dress, mid 40s bias cut dress, two formal early 40s dresses, and this amazing crane dress.
In high school my style interests were mostly invested in the 1920s, I had the bob hair that even somehow did a natural finger wave every day, not sure how. And I adored Coco Chanel and Clara Bow, still do, but I now lack the look they had. I wore this dress a few timed and it looked very 1920s, however it wasn't until yesterday that I really started thinking about when the dress was really from. Now since I've taken a special interest in the 1930s, I kept looking for aspects of it that would make it from the 30s. But because of the dropped waist, lavish fabric and pattern, and no bias cut, I thought it must be from the 20s, but one thing really threw me off: The length.
By the late 20s, the hemlines of dresses were generally higher up on the calf or even knee, but this one reaches down to my ankles, a traditional early-mid 30s length. Then I finally remembered one crucial thing about that lot of clothing I got years ago.
The collectors great aunt was a very tall woman, the two two early 40s dresses reach well past my feet, even with the highest heels on. The dresses were handmade for her because of her hight, and this dress could very well have reached to her calf once on. So I conclude this dress as made in the late 1920s for a very tall and stylish girl.

There. Mystery solved.

16 comments:

Dusky Ledoux said...

This is so beautiful, and looks so vibrant and 'new' for its age! Very Elegant! x

AlicePleasance said...

How lucky! The dress is truly amazing :-)

reilly said...

Beautiful dress! How lucky to meet someone like that!

Mujer imperfecta said...

In Japan cranes are an omen of good health. What a treasure!!

Lauren said...

We were sorta similar in highschool (i am in highschool)--i have a bob haircut and love Clara bow!!

Quixsa said...

Hahaha. Love the story :0) At least the mystery is solved and you ended up with unique dresses.lol.

Lucky you to get all of those dresses when you were in high school. Sounds like we would've gotten along in HS.

Amanda Atkins said...

aw, I love that conclusion Solanah!
by the way, I'm reading a book I think you might like:
Holy Skirts by Rene Steinke (the fictional story of the real Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Lorringhoven).

Tikimama said...

What a lovely dress! How nice that the lady gave you all those clothes - she must have known you'd take great care of them!

Sandra @ Debutanteclothing.com said...

Your dress is lovely, and i think you can still totally pull off a 1920s look with your wavy hair.

I think I have to disagree with your date on the dress though. It looks very 1940s to me. Especially because of the Japanese print. The drop waist of a 1920s dress is usually very squared, and the waist of your dress seems more fitted and V waistlines were common in the '40s.

I love the dress.

Solanah said...

Interesting, I was hoping someone would dispute my dating :)

If the bodice was darted at all it would totally change things, but its just flat. I never even considered the print being 40s, there were some pretty but rare ones in that era. The oriental influence was in the 20s as well thanks to Paul Poiret, but also the zipper looks older than any 40s dress, it's one of those really short ones, that has a triangular tab. I thought maybe it was for a larger woman than I, but then with such a short zipper, it would be impossible to get on, it just fits over my shoulders.

I wish you could see it up close so you could examine it too! I really want to know for sure when its from.

Frances Baker said...

That is the most amazing dress! You look gorgeous! I really like 20's on you, you pull it off so nicely!

esme and the lane way said...

Beautiful dress, I love the print.

retroliving said...

Your life is amazing, how kind of her to give you all of those items. This dress is stunning I love the fabric, it looks perfect on you.
♥darla

Sandra @ Debutanteclothing.com said...

I would love to see it up close too. I love a good vintage mystery. Zippers weren't used on garments that weren't underwear until the 1930s though.

Regardless, it's stunning on you!

kirby said...

What a stunning dress! How very lucky that your fabulous hats caught the eye of a generous lady. :) Even with the longer skirt, it suits you well. The print is lovely!

isabelle puissant said...

Hello i am isabelle from lacartepostale,first i want to thank you for your comment about this incredible kitty pillow ... and tell you also how I like your blog and particulary this gorgeous dress that you wear on this picture... hope to speack you soon... Regards...