Evening dress made by David Jones Limited

Contributed by: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Handkerchief attached inside front neckline. Neckline shows lots of wear. Staining under arm as metallic threads meant the dress was never washed. Tabard hides under-arm staining and demonstrates garment is well made. Absorbent pad attached to inner under-arm area. Padding is fine paper. Large stain at bottom of front skirt. Fabric is deteriorating along the hem line. Pearl beading is missing from central decoration. David Jones label.
  • Australian dress register ID:

    280
  • Owner:

    Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
  • Owner registration number:

    2008/8/1
  • Date range:

    1920 - 1926
  • Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Female
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Object information

Significance statement

Born in Noumea, New Caledonia, in 1900, May Camille Dezarnaulds migrated to Sydney with her family in 1912 and lived in the harbour-side suburb of Double Bay until 1923 when she married the Hon. G.R.W. McDonald, local member for Bungara New South Wales. She purchased this custom-made dress from David Jones, probably to wear as her 'going-away' outfit when departing for her honeymoon. The garment would have been selected from a David Jones catalogue featuring a list and price of the fabrics available.

David Jones offered dressmaking and tailoring services soon after its establishment in Sydney in 1838. In 1914, it opened a dress-making factory in Marlborough Street, Surry Hills, and manufactured ready-made items that would eventually dominate its clothing range. Nonetheless, its dress-making service remained popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting quality garments like this dress for special occasions.

Made from vibrant silk brocade, this dress features the hallmarks of a fashionable and well-made 1920s garment. Its sleeveless, loose-fitting design and short skirt capture the youthful, androgynous look of the decade. The simple shape of the dress is counterbalanced by the rich rose brocaded textile and beaded trim at the waist.

Author: Catherine Reade, 29th June 2007.

Description

Evening dress, probably silk brocade, made by David Jones Limited for May Camille McDonald (nee Dezarnaulds), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1923

A sleeveless evening dress made in a cream coloured brocade textile. The dress is fully lined and has a square neckline and is loose fitting to below knee length with a slightly raised hemline at front. The dress features centre front pleating at waist which is trimmed with a beaded applique in the shape of a bow. An embroidered handkerchief has been attached to the inside front neckline. No label.

History and Provenance

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

David Jones, Australia's oldest department store, opened in 1838 in George Street, Sydney. It catered to the urban gentry as well as country settlers wanting a range of high-quality clothing, fabric, jewellery, sewing machines and other household items. Its Welsh-born proprietor, Mr David Jones, established the store to carry 'a stock that embraces the everyday wants of mankind at large' (as quoted in David Jones website www.davidjones.com.au). In the 1870s, his son, Edward, travelled to Europe to view the local department stores from which he developed a model for the family's Australian enterprise.

David Jones offered dressmaking and tailoring services soon after its establishment. In 1914, it opened a dress-making factory in Marlborough Street, Surry Hills, where it manufactured ready-made items that eventually dominated its clothing range. Nonetheless, its dress-making service remained popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting quality garments for special occasions.

In 1927, David Jones opened a grand department store at Elizabeth Street and effectively relocated the Sydney shopping district to the western side of Hyde Park. Its proprietor described it as 'a stunner - big, shining, lovely to the last detail' (quoted in K. Webber and I. Hoskins, 'What's In Store, Powerhouse Museum, 2003, p.9)

  1. Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    May McDonald (nee Dezarnaulds) died in 1987 and bequeathed this dress to her son, George Roy William McDonald (born 1925). His wife, Heather, donated the garment to the Museum in 2008.

  3. Made by:

    Sydney department store, David Jones, made this silk brocade dress around 1923 for a young woman from Double Bay, May Camille Dezarnaulds. The garment would have been selected from a David Jones catalogue featuring a list and price of the fabrics available. Its sleeveless, loose-fitting design captures the youthful, androgynous look of the decade.

    David Jones' dress-making service was popular amongst clients able to afford a customised wardrobe or wanting a quality garment for a special occasion. This dress is believed to be part of the 'going away' outfit that May Camille Dezarnaulds wore when departing for her honeymoon.

Trimmings / Decoration

The long sides are held up with a beaded applique brooch in the shape of a bow in the front centre.

Fibre / Weave

Cream cotton brocade dress.

Cream cotton lining.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye

Manufacture

Sydney department store, David Jones, made this silk brocade dress around 1923.

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other

Cut

  1. Bias
  2. Straight

Fastenings

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Measurements

dress
Vertical
Back neck to hem 1110 mm
Horizontal
Underarm to underarm 500 mm
Convert to inches

Condition

State

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor

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  • Bridget O'Neill May 10

    Having recently seen the ''After Five : Fashion from the Darnell Collection'' exhibition at my local gallery (Hazelhurst, Gymea) this website has been fantastic in showing me more examples of the fashion that women wore in the last few hundred years!\n\nI specifically love 1920s fashion and this dress is amazing; especially being able to see the detail of the stitching and signs of wear and tear from daily life. The photos are wonderful in showing this! I also love the brief history of the type of garment as well as the personal history- really gives me an idea of how it was used and gives an amazing glimpse into life in the 20s!!

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