This is a fabulous example of a beaded evening dress – the quintessential ‘flapper’ costume of the mid-1920s. Very few survive in such good condition. The weight of the beading began to pull the backing fabric (usually chiffon or net) apart from the moment such dresses were worn. For the same reason this example is displayed here flat rather than on a mannequin to avoid the destructive pull of gravity. Simple in construction, this tabard-style over dress is completely open at the sides with just a stitched section at the hips to hold front and back together. A slip would have been worn underneath but we have displayed the dress on its own here. The fine black net base is elaborately adorned with a stunning series of patterns and emblems set out in seed and bugle beads in black, red and raspberry. The black/red contrast is inverted from top to bottom between the background and the decoration. The most striking feature is the sweeping lines of beads that curve toward the circular emblem at the waist from above and below. This pattern is reversed on the back of the dress.

This dress belonged to Marion Kitty Bastings (later Mrs Alexander Hardie Newbury) who grew up at the White Horse Hotel, Milton, with her two sisters and younger brother and later, during the Depression, at the The Hiawatha Guest House in St Clair owned by her parents, Horace Bastings and Marion Fisher. It was worn to balls and dances. Marion Bastings died in 1996, aged 89.
Production Date
Mid 1920s
1,200 (h) x 380 (w) x 270 (d) mm (on mannequin)