Twenties Formal Evening Dress

Contributed by: Private collectors

Front Side view Side view Back view Detail of beaded hem Insert and newer beading Insert Detail detail Accessories belonging to Patricia Brandt
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Private collectors
  • Date range:

    1920 - 1930
  • Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

[Collapse all]

Object information

Significance statement

Historic and aesthetic. It is a lovely example of a formal garment worn in the 1920's, requiring considerable dressmaking skills to design and complete. It is a very good example of a roaring twenties dress, few of which survive because of the sheerness of the fabric used and the heavy weights of the beads.

Author: Susan Brandt, niece of the late owner., 09/08/11.


Black see-through chiffon dress, weighted by beading, hanging straight from the shoulders to calf length. Dress is sleeveless, V-neck, dropped waistline. Five vertical beaded lines on the top front and back sections which are joined on the loose waistline by a scallopped horizontal beaded line. The skirt section is comprised of 10 panels which are seperated with beaded lines and finished at the hemline with large scallopped edges. The beading comprises of two lines of beads 15mm apart, which are then filled in with dense, random beading.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Patricia Brandt married late in life and left no descendants. Nor did Annabelle Crevino.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

Patricia Brandt (1909-2005) was an early New South Wales female solicitor. She went to fashionable parties when young and mostly designed and made her own clothes very meticulously. Her estate included umpteen examples of clothing, belt buckles, hat decorations, bodkins etc as she did not throw these kind of items out during her life. It also included some items of clothing that came from her mother's generation. Once the label was discovered on this dress and it was clear she did not personally make it, but it rather appears to be European in origin, it is possible that the dress came to her from the estate of her mother's friend from Ballarat, Annabelle Crevino, whose family were French and who lived her later life in Melbourne and was considered all her life to be very well dressed by her friends. Annabelle Crevino's estate included a piece of red material that she believed her father had worn in Napolean's Army. Annabelle Crevino never married.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

It is a beautifully preserved example of formal wear for women in the inter-war years.

Where did this information come from?

Patricia Brandt Williamson (1909-2005) towards the end of her life. It was part of her estate. Now owned by her niece.

  1. Place of origin:

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:


  3. Owned by:

    Patricia Brandt before her marriage. (Patricia Brandt Williamson in later life) 1909-2005. It was part of her estate.

  4. Worn by:

    Patricia Williamson or a family friend Annabelle Crevino.

  5. Occasion(s):

    Probably a family wedding and worn only once, and then preserved.

  6. Place:

    Sydney or Melbourne

  7. Designed by:

    Unknown, possibly European.

  8. Made by:


Trimmings / Decoration

Small bronze coloured beading decorating neckline, sleeveline, hemline and centre front and back.

Fibre / Weave

1. Black

2. Light weight see-through fabric

3. Tabby

4. all over.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


This garment was probably worn only once for a special occasion in Sydney, New South Wales, possibly as a guest at a wedding. It was preserved by its owner and was part of her estate when she died in 2005 at the age of 94.. A very small label was found by the photographer with "46" on it, indicating it may have been made overseas to European sizing. The owner, Patricia Brandt, did not travel overseas until the 1940's, long after this fashion had passed. She did not marry until 1962. There is one other possibility: that it belonged to a family friend called Annabelle Crevino who was born in Ballarat in the 1880's, of French parentage; she never married, was fairly well off and lived all her later life in Melbourne. She may have worn it in her 40's in Melbourne. Patricia Brandt, who was a solicitor, was Annabelle Crevino's executor, and there were many dress accessories and personal items of Annabelle Crevino's in the estate of Patricia Brandt Williamson in 2005.


Unknown. Simply a small "46".


There are two triangular panels, reaching from the waistline to the bustline which have been inserted in each side seam. They are black chiffon, but slightly darker that then rest of the dress. Below these triangles are two areas of newer beading that continue the horizontal line of beading at the waistline. Each of these section is 40mm. The beads used are very similar but are shinier gold. There are two small jars of the 'newer' gold beads that accompany the dress.

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


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


Neck 815 mm
Chest 95 mm
Waist 102 mm
Hip 1145 mm
Hem circumference 260 mm
Front neck to hem 1220 mm
Front waist to hem 540 mm
Neck to sleeve head 61 mm
Convert to inches

10 panels, 115 at hip x 430. Base 260 across.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

The beading is a major part of the effect of the garment and can be seen in the close up photo.


Evidence of repairs

There is a small worn hole on the right shoulder and two places where a small amount of beading has come loose.


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


  1. Holes
  2. Parts missing
  3. Worn
[Collapse all]