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Behind the Scenes in Conservation: Day Dress

by Conservation

3/12/2020

in pretty finery , textile conservation , historic dress , dunlevy , behind the scenes

This daytime ensemble from about 1900 recently appeared on In Pretty Finery, a Facebook group of about 80,000 fans of historic dress. One of those fans commented she’d like to see the back, so here it is! This ensemble is by a Cincinnati designer named Anna Dunlevy, who was active from 1889-1913: a time when few women worked outside the home. 

However, Cincinnati boasted several influential female dressmakers including Dunlevy, Selina Cadwallader (active 1870-1886), and Mary Bannon (active 1873-1898). The silk of this dress is actually incredibly fragile and there is a lot of loss of the silk lining so it can’t go on display for long periods of time, but pictures like those shared on In Pretty Finery and on this blog allow us to share objects like this without risking further damage. Plus we can fulfill wishes! Like the request to see the back or to take a (very) close look at details like Dunlevy’s woven label or the colorful, patterned silk used for the belt and neck details.