This dress has a maker’s label from Dunedin’s D.S.A. (Drapery Supply Association). It is a typical late Edwardian matron’s silk day dress. Black was a popular colour for mature women but this dress is enlivened by the colourful embroidery of the net insert in the yoke, which extends up to form a stand collar. The elaborate bodice construction has panels above the waistline forming inverted ‘V’s echoing the ‘V’ of the wide strips of black lace that cross over like bandoliers from the shoulder. This design is mirrored front and back. The full-length skirt on the other hand has sweeping curved panels at the front but is straight at the back. Five self-covered buttons on either side provide a linking feature to tie the two together. There is a repeating decorative motif of rows of black beads. The dress has been altered by an amateur sewer at some later time.

This dress was part of a large collection of costume donated by Molly Parsons of Amberley in 1980. It is thought to have belonged to her grandmother, Mary Riddle (née McMaster). Mary was the daughter of Highlanders from Fort William who came to Otago on the Mooltan in 1849 and settled at Saddle Hill. Mary married a neighbour’s son, Robert Riddle, in 1883. They settled in Palmerston and established a stud herd of Jersey cows at their farm ‘Whare Kura’. Robert was closely associated with Palmerston’s most famous politician, the Liberal Minister of Lands Sir John McKenzie, and worked with him to promote the town’s interests. Mary was a keen horsewoman and was ‘Master of the Otago Hunt’ for a time. She died at Palmerston in 1935 aged 74.
Drapery Supply Association
Production Date
Circa 1914
1,330 (h) x 610 (w) x 430 (d) mm (on mannequin)