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Object Name

Evening Dress


Reilly, Kate (Primary maker)
Reilly, Kate ([designer / maker])

Date Made

c. 1895
19th century (late)
c. 1895

Place Made



colour : yellow. design : dress comprises bodice and skirt of yellow silk velvet, bodice c/f opening hidden by gathered overlap with rosette, hook fastenings low round neck held in place by drawstring at c/f.fold over collar of heavily beaded lace which is further trimmrd with silver sequins and imitation moonstones. The outlining beads of the lace are clear. Collar circa 12 cms deep. Very full leg of mutton 3/4 length sleeves with turn back cuffs trimmed with lace as on collar Back of bodice has fabric in overlapping diagonal folds. Folded waistband. Bodice lined with dark cream silk, seven bones at back and sides. The waist tape has stamped gold lettering. Skirt The panelled, trained skirt is plain except for a stiff, very thick piped cord at hem, the fullness of the train is guaged at waist, at c/b and is also held by an inner tape extending from side seam to side seam at the level of lower end of c/b opening, pocket in right side seam. Skirt is fully lined with ice-blue satin, small frill at hem. Waist is edged with piped satin. Satin hanging loops at waist c. 64 cms. During the 1820s and early 1830s, the sleeves grew enormous, balancing the widening skirts. The fashion was exuberant and positive, until the sleeves suddenly reduced in size in 1836, the year before Victoria came to the throne. The early Victorian fashions were much more self effacing. In the 1890s, the sleeves once more grew enormous, again balanced to some extent by gored skirts. In this age of the 'New Woman', beginning to look for more independence and less constraint, the styles had a harder, almost masculine edge. Yellow is a flattering colour in candle light , used in the 1820s and 1830s, and in electric light, becoming more common in the 1890s. In the intervening years, yellow was seldom seen in the evening since gaslight, with its bluish tone made yellow an unflattering greenish tint. From exhibition label early 2000s: Velvet eveing bodice and skirt, 1895 Kate Reilly Because gaslight had a bluish tinge which turned yellow into an unflattering shade, it was not used as a colour for evening dess for most of the ninettenth century. When electric light, which had a warmer tone, came into use, yellow evening wear became very popular. It was almost a status symboll, indicating that one moved in circles which could afford the new form of lighting. The other strong elements of this outfit are the enormous sleeves which reached their maximum size by the mid-1890s. Kate Reilly was one of the best known London 'Court' dressmakers, the equivalent of the Paris couturiers in all but reputation. She also had a business in New York.


silk, velvet

Catalogue Number



National Museums NI