This mid 1930s day dress has a label from the leading Dunedin department store, Brown Ewing of Princes Street. Made from a stunning Indian red silk crêpe it is full length and has long sleeves but none of the shaping to the shoulder that would become ubiquitous soon after. An ivory lace yoke around the shallow ‘V’ neck contrasts with the red crêpe and is repeated below the elbows on the sleeves. The cut is fabulous, with amazing seaming detail in the construction of the skirt to give it shape. There is a self-fabric belt at the waist, which fastens with an enamelled buckle adorned with faux gemstones.

This dress is part of a collection of costume that came from the Moir family of Balclutha. An 1864 dress from Maria Moir (née Larkin), the founding mother of the South Otago Moirs, featured in our ‘Fabulous Frocks’ exhibition in 2003. It is not clear who this dress belonged to but Sarah Moir, Maria’s youngest daughter, has been suggested by family members. Sarah never married and lived with two older sisters, also spinsters, at ‘Blairlogie’ the Moir family home in Balclutha. They preserved its antique contents in perfect order until the last of them passed away in 1956. Surviving photos show Sarah wearing dresses not dissimilar to this one. Sarah died at ‘Blairlogie’ in 1952 aged 79.
Brown Ewing & Co Ltd
Production Date
Mid 1930s
1,240 (h) x 530 (w) x 260 (d) mm (on mannequin)