Irish crochet dress tunic, c.1910
The stylish tunic epitomizes the refinement and elegance of the early Edwardian period. It can be difficult to tell how a particular Edwardian garment was worn, absent the original underpinnings. This marvelous creation, probably the outer tunic shell of a dress, can be worn either as a dress or as a coat.
In addition to an appealing medley of Irish crochet flowers, the romantic floral design incorporates large hand-embroidered roses. The padded, high relief embroidery is the perfect complement to the three-dimensional Irish crochet flowers.
The four padded roses on the bodice anchor the ultra-feminine design. Amidst a constellation of lesser lights (Irish crochet flowers), three smaller padded roses in a triangular pattern wait attendance on their Queen Rose.
Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
Come hither, the dances are done.
Sing out, little head, sunning over with curls,
To the flowers, and be their sun.
With figure flattering princess line seams, the garment molds to the shape of the body. It closes across the shoulder and down the side-front with small snaps. The seams of the skirt are open at various levels below the waist—provocative construction rarely seen in Irish crochet garments. The two vertical lace panels bracketing the bodice visually lengthen the silhouette.
The irregular hem length is a deft design touch. The hem borders of the skirt panels are trimmed with hand-knotted fringe. The Irish crochet lace is fashioned from white cotton thread and is quite durable.
The European craft of crochet achieved an aesthetic pinnacle in Ireland, where crochet artists used 17th century Venetian needlepoint laces as their inspiration. The quintessential Irish lace is Irish crochet, already famous in 1743 when the Royal Dublin Society awarded prizes for outstanding examples.
When we consider the modern history of women's high fashion, we tend to think only of Parisian couture, invented by Charles Worth in 1858. If costume art is a lovely flowering tree, its main trunk was indeed couture. There were, however, other fine branches on the tree: Aesthetic Dress was one; and Irish lace was the other.
The condition is excellent and wearable.
It measures: 36" bust, 34" waist, 38" hip, 14 1/2" from shoulder seam to shoulder seam, 24" sleeve length, and 56" from shoulder to hem.