Mixed lace dress, early 1920s
Alluring as well as ladylike, the dress recapitulates Spanish fashion history, where black lace has intimated romance and mystery for 400 years. In the 17th century, Spanish ladies appeared in the mantilla (a lightweight lace scarf worm over the head and shoulders) as seen in the portraits of Velázquez and Goya.
A well born Spanish lady led a more sheltered existence than that of other European women. Over time, black lace began to signify a woman who was desperately desirable but ultimately unattainable. Black lace conveyed a subtle, yet unmistakable, sexual frisson.
The seductive dress is constructed from two layers attached at the neckline and armholes. The flared outer layer of black Chantilly lace, black tulle, and embroidered cutwork floats over a straight black satin slip. The loose fitting dress closes on the side-front of the slip with snaps.
The dress was obviously expensive when new. The upper edges of the scalloped hem border are finely finished with satin binding. The slip has a double-layered chiffon hem flounce.
Paradoxically, the black-on-black design does not camouflage the rich complexity of the intricate floral lace motifs. On the contrary, they are enhanced by the absence of distracting color contrast. Indeed, after Coco Chanel introduced the little black dress (1926), black became the color of high fashion.
The condition is almost excellent. In the net are a few pinprick-size breaks. They are invisible over the black slip. The dress is wearable.
It measures: 42" bust and waist, 46" hip, and 51" from shoulder to hem.