Agnes McLeod wore this dress to marry William Muldrew at her father’s farm ‘Springhill’, Maheno, on 30 September 1885. She had been born at sea when her parents emigrated from Scotland to Otago in 1862. William was from Portadown, County Down, Ireland and had arrived in Otago on the Auckland in 1874 with his parents and six sisters. They settled at Maheno in North Otago, where the McLeods had already developed their substantial farm. William and Agnes lived within a few miles of each other. After their wedding they remained in the district near their respective families and raised eleven children, eight boys and three girls. William died at Maheno in 1922 but Agnes survived him by almost thirty years. She died in 1951, aged 88 years.

This dress is a rather stylish two-piece costume, which has been preserved in almost pristine condition. The wedding photograph of Agnes reveals that it originally had a substantial lace trim at the collar and cuffs but there is no sign of this now. The dress itself is made from a dark green silk with a light green stripe. It has a double row of buttons down the bodice securing a separate panel down the middle. The buttons bear the mark of a Parisian maker. The bodice is in the ‘cuirasse’ style, hugging the body closely and extending over the hips. It comes to a point in the front and has an asymmetrical ‘tail’ at the rear decorated with grosgrain ribbon. The skirt drapery is also asymmetrical – a fashionable feature in this period. An in-built steel band shapes the bustle. It has the narrow shape and more pronounced projection in the centre back characteristic of bustles in the mid-1880s.