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Ball gown, Worth, 1888. Pale oyster satin edged w/pale lilac-gray velvet. Boned bodice lacing in back, w/swagged fringes of crystal & silvered beads outlining breasts, punctuated by couched silver thread bows. Flower garlands below & on trained, embroidered skirt, lined in matching taffeta w/inner ruffles & Valenciennes lace at back. Blue Ottoman silk cape, A. Lemonnier, Paris, with detachable double-tiered capelet collar, lined in pink silk. Kerry Taylor Auctions/Live Auctioneers

Typical of Restoration Court dress (1660s), the gown is made in a beautiful blue and gold silk brocade (other colour combinations available) with matching plain blue silks and satins and adornments of silk taffeta ribbon - very popular in the seventeenth century. An element of artistic licence was used with the representative shift sleeves (the undersleeve part), by using a silk rather than lawn or linen, but this seems appropriate to a wedding / court gown.

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Embroidered silk mantua (court dress), English, 1755-60 (fabric probably woven in France, 1753-55). This richly brocaded ensemble illustrates the style of dress worn by women at court in England. Known as a mantua, the gown consists of a bodice with a train at the back. A very wide petticoat of matching silk completes the ensemble along with a triangle of silk known as a stomacher, in the centre front. Although considered stylish daywear in the early 18th century, the mantua had become very…