This sinuous evening gown is made from a synthetic satin in a bold gold colour enlivened with a pattern of starbursts. It has the characteristic 1930s emphasis on the back view, with tapering flanges on each side tracing a deep ‘V’ down the spine and self-coloured ties draping down the skirt in an inverted ‘V’ from the waist. The front is simpler; a basque line with gathers at the centre top surmounted by rows of ruching. The sleeves are short, with two darts to give shape to the shoulders. The full-length skirt has godet panels to flare out at the base. It is in a larger size than many of the dresses displayed here but the draping fabric, drawn back over the hips, helps elongate the wearer’s figure. Such tricks were common in this period when a tall, slim figure was the fashion ideal.

This dress belonged to Muriel May Booth (née Curle) of North East Valley. It was donated by her son and daughter-in-law, Leslie and Joan Booth, in 2000. Muriel was born in the Valley in1899. She married John Booth, a soap maker, in 1921 and was in her thirties and the mother of two sons when she wore this dress. She was a good seamstress and is thought to have made the dress herself. No photographs of Muriel are available to show how well she fitted the tall, slim profile that the dress suggests. It is interesting nonetheless to think of a young mother of modest means in a typical Dunedin suburb being so fashionably dressed for some long-forgotten 1930s ball or dance.
Muriel May Booth
Production Date
Mid 1930s
1,490 (h) x 480 (w) x 270 (d) mm (on mannequin)