This dress has a maker’s label – “Zealandia” – which suggests that it was made in New Zealand, and probably in Dunedin. It is a white cotton day dress, its deceptively simple elegance masking a quite complex structure. Like the previous example it is full length and ends in a hobble skirt. It has ¾ length sleeves with folded over cuffs. The neck is tight to the throat and edged with a lace trim. The dress is also close fitted at the waist and over the hips although there is a suggestion of pouching at the bust to give a pigeon-breasted profile. It is fastened at the back with tiny white shell buttons and the wearer would have needed assistance to do it up. The most complex feature of the dress is the jigsaw pattern of panels, combining the cotton with sections of broderie anglaise and fine lace strips. The cotton is enhanced with horizontal bands of pin tucking in the skirt and with embroidered flower motifs in the bodice.

This is one of two day dresses in the exhibition that belonged to Louisa Jack who was born in Invercargill in 1884 but moved to St Kilda in Dunedin as a child. Louisa was brought up strictly in a firmly religious home. Her daughter recalls Louisa’s attitudes as very ‘Victorian’, especially her great emphasis on good manners and correct posture. Louisa’s mother died when she was ten. As the eldest daughter of the family she subsequently took over the role of housekeeper, caring for her father until her marriage to Charles Eason in 1909. This dress most likely dates from the period just before her marriage. We can imagine Louisa wearing it to church, with a big Edwardian hat and a parasol to provide shelter from the sun. She would have made a striking figure with her 19-inch waist and masses of beautiful wavy auburn hair peeking out from under the hat.
Production Date
Circa 1908
1,350 (h) x 530 (w) x 350 (d) mm (on mannequin)