Chinese aubergine silk damask and velvet
Purchase, Gifts in memory of Paul M. Ettesvold, and Judith and Gerson Leiber Fund, 1994 (1994.302.1)
Made of Chinese patterned silk, this dress uses an export textile in a Western garment. Arguably, Asian textiles were associated in the Western mind as much with private leisure as with ceremony. Many Eastern textiles entered Western dress first as intimate boudoir and other at-home garments such as robes and banyans, suggesting the qualities of exoticism and erotic mystery associated with far-off lands. The selvage at the back waist reveals Chinese characters, indicating the textile's manufacture, and the flaring sleeves are what the West calls the pagoda style.