Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Lady Curzon And The Peacock Dress

A few days ago, I wrote about Kedleston Hall, the neoclassical country seat of the Curzon family. In that post, I very briefly mentioned the dazzling gown on display there, at one time worn by the then Lady Curzon in 1903. Chicago born Mary Leiter was the very essence of a true Victorian beauty. Statuesque at 6 feet tall, she possessed a remarkable face and figure; lustrous, dark hair, sloping shoulders, pale complexion and the tightly corseted waist so favoured during the period. In 1895 she married George, Lord Curzon and later Viceroy of India.

So, what of the "Peacock Dress?" Lady Curzon commissioned the ultimate nineteenth century couturier, The House of Worth, to design and create her a magical gown worthy of the pomp and ceremony of The Dehli Durbar, a celebration her husband had organised to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.

Paying homage to her position as Vicreine of India, the dress was threaded with gold in a sumptuous peacock motif; each "feather" containing a green jewel (actually irridescent beetle wings) that glittered and caught the light. I can only imagine what an effect this created when combined with the diamonds, pearls and lace she also wore. The passing of over  one hundred years has in no way diminished the lustre and remarkability of this beautiful confection. I've seen it many times now and it always amazes.

In the words of a guest at the Dehli Durbar, "You cannot conceive what a dream she looked."

3 comments:

  1. Wow! Imagine a dress like this made today... probably from some Couture house...to think the work tha must have gone into it. Amazing. Have a great day, Love from London x

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  2. I know- all hand stitched, too. I can't tell you how beautiful it is up close. Unfortunately the photo doesn't do it justice, although it does show how beautiful Lady Curzon was.

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  3. I wish I could see this gown in person. It must shimmer and gleam with the beetle wings and fine embroidery.

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