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2001/101/1 Evening dress with jacket, womens, printed rayon, made by Misses Mooney, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, c. 1935. Click to enlarge.

Women’s evening dress with jacket by Misses Mooney

Made c.1935
This evening dress with matching jacket is labelled "Misses Mooney, 189 Collins Street Melbourne" and was made in the mid 1930s. It is typical of the type of elegant evening dresses worn by women in the 1930s and is a good example of quality Australian fashion from that period. It is also an excellent example of an early use of the man-made fibre rayon.

The fashionable look for women in the interwar period changed around 1930 from the linear, gamine look of the twenties in favour of softer, more fluid streamlined clothes that accentuated the female body. The look was popularised by the glamorous stars of Hollywood. Full length, backless evening dresses were a thirties fashion innovation. Softer fabrics were used to mould the body and fall into drapes. This new fluidity was achieved by cutting the dress material on the bias or across the grain of the fabric to give it more elasticity and draping quality. The bias cut technique was not new but taken up and perfected in the 1930s. The bias-cut dominated dress design during the 1930s and was encouraged by a general revival of interest in classical art; evening dresses were especially suitable for recreating the soft drapery of Antique statues.

Another significant feature of the dress is the fabric. Rayon is a generic term for mad-made fibre composed of regenerated cellulose derived from trees, cotton and woody plants. This man made fibre was developed in the 1800s but technical improvements between the wars made it a more popular fabric for dresses although it was never as popular as silk. It was first used in 1910 to manufacture hosiery and known as artificial silk before the word rayon was coined in 1925. The bold stylised floral pattern against a black background is typical of textiles fashionable in the early 1930s. It is likely the fabric was imported from Europe or America.

Little is known about the maker Misses Mooney of 189 Collins Street. Melbourne at that time had a thriving clothing industry with many small dressmaking establishments. It is likely the original owner of this dress had it made especially for her as off-the-rack quality fashion developed after WW2.

Nothing is known of the original wearer as the donor of the dress purchased it in an antique shop in Sydney.

The Powerhouse Museum has an extensive costume collection with a focus on Australian fashion. This dress complements a small group of Australian made fashions worn during the interwar period.




Bibliography

Dorner,J, Fashion in the Twenties and Thirties, London, 1973
Joel, Alexandra, Parade The story of Australain Fashion, HarperCollins, 1998
Mendes,Valerie and de la Haye, Amy, 20th Century Fashion,Thames & Hudson, 1999
Encyclopedia of Textiles, third edition by the editors of American Fabrics and Fashion Magazine
Salter, Robert, Flinders Lane...Memory Lane, Journal Australian Jewish Historical Society, vol 10, issue7, 1989, pages 583-589

Summary

Object No.

2001/101/1

Object Statement

Evening dress with jacket, womens, printed rayon, made by Misses Mooney, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, c. 1935

Physical Description

Evening dress with matching jacket made of printed black raylon featuring stylised floral pattern in white, red and green.

Dress: close fitting, full length dress with slight train at back. The bodice is sleeveless with a V-neckline and plunging scooped back. The skirt has a deep double ruffle at the shaped hem. The bodice and ruffles are cut on the cross. The dress has a proper left side seam opening that fastens with five metal hooks and eyes and five metal press studs. It is machine sewn and unlined.

Jacket: short, loosely fitted, tailored jacket has a V-neck and puffed elbow length sleeves. Centre front opening fastens at the waist with one fabric covered button. The jacket is machine sewn and unlined.

Marks

White and yellow fabric label inside centre back neck of jacket 'PHONE C890/Misses Mooney/189 COLLINS ST/MELBOURNE'.

Production

Made

c.1935

Notes

The dress was made in Melbourne in the mid 1930s. Stylistically it is typical of fashionable evening dresses of that period.

Fashionable dress for women in the interwar period changed around 1930 from the linear, gamine look of the twenties in favour of softer, more fluid streamlined clothes that accentuated the female body. Evening dresses became full length and softer fabrics were used to mould the body and fall into soft drapes. This new fluidity was achieved by cutting the dress material on the bias or across the grain of the fabric which gives it more elasticity and draping quality. The bias cut technique was not new but taken up and perfected in the 1930s. The bias-cut dominated dress design during the 1930s and was encouraged by a general revival of interest in classical art; evening dresses were especially suitable for recreating the effect of the soft draperies of Antiquie staturary. The look was popularised by Hollywood as film exerted a strong influence on 1930s fashion.

Dress is labelled Misses Mooney 189 Collins Street Melbourne. Little is known of the maker Misses Mooney of 189 Collins Street. Melbourne at that time had a thriving clothing industry. Quality women's fashions were typically made by small dressmaking establishments.

This dress was made c.1935.

History

Notes

Original owner unknown as dress was purchased at an antique shop by donor who shortly after presented it to the Museum

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Kylie Winkworth, 2001

Acquisition Date

22 October 2001

Cite this Object

Harvard

Women's evening dress with jacket by Misses Mooney 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 31 May 2020, <https://ma.as/9678>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/9678 |title=Women's evening dress with jacket by Misses Mooney |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=31 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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