This two-piece day dress dates from the turn of the century. It gives us a starting point for twentieth century fashion that is little different from the century that had just ended. It is made from a dark green satin silk, stiffly boned and tightly corseted around the bodice. Designed for an older woman who was relatively wealthy, this is a costume made from the finest materials and with a degree of elaboration that would have been very costly. This is most evident in the bodice, with a yoke of fine pin-tucking framed by the band of blue green sequins separated by lace leaves and trimmed with a frill of fine black silk. There are also iridescent seed beads to add an extra sparkle. The high collar of black lace over black chiffon is also boned. The gored skirt flares to the back in a hint of a train and is lined with pink silk. It is the costume of a tasteful matriarch.

The dress belonged to Mary Ann Hudson (née Riley) wife of the notable Dunedin biscuit manufacturer Richard Hudson. She wore it to the wedding of her daughter Hannah (Gertie) at St Matthew’s church in Stafford Street in 1906. As a mature woman, and one who exerted considerable influence over her husband’s business empire, Mary Ann was by then one of Dunedin’s social elite. However, both she and Richard came from humble origins and had started their married life in Christchurch in 1868 with few resources. During their early days in Dunedin Richard used to sell ship biscuits to vessels in port from a wheelbarrow on the wharf. After years of hard work and entrepreneurial flair they were able to build a fine mansion in Royal Terrace where they brought up their eight children in considerable comfort. Mary Ann died there in 1937 aged 87. Another of Mrs Hudson’s dresses begins the ‘evening dress’ sequence of this display.
Production Date
Circa 1906