This dress belonged to Louisa Eason (née Jack) of Ripponvale. It exemplifies the dramatic shift in style of the 1920s. Hemlines had risen, even for eveningwear, and for the first time in fashion history women’s legs were exposed to view. Meanwhile, both the bust and the waist have ‘disappeared’, with a simple tubular silhouette that favoured slim, boyish figures. Louisa’s dress relies for effect on the striking purple colour of the silk fabric. This contrasts nicely with the panels of ivory lace with repeating floral motif on the lower skirt and as an insert in the deep plunging neckline where it also has horizontal bands. The dropped waist has a lace trim in a matching colour, repeated around the neckline. Simple and stylish, the dress was probably home-made – the stitching is uneven and there are tiny pleats at the shoulder where the fit seems to be uneven.

This dress is the second of two day dresses in the exhibition that belonged to Louisa Eason (née Jack). Louisa married Charles Eason, a carpenter, in St Kilda in 1909. Six years later they moved to Ripponvale, near Cromwell, with two children and developed an orchard. Two more children were born there. Moving to the country was a big challenge for Louisa as she learnt to milk cows, make butter, and deal with pigs and poultry. She coped admirably and entered enthusiastically into the life of the district. The 1920s were a time of great change. Electric light and the telephone both came to Cromwell in these years and around the middle of the decade the Easons replaced their horse and wagon with a Model T Ford. We can perhaps imagine Louisa proudly climbing into the car wearing her splendid purple dress to attend a meeting of the newly formed Women’s Division of the Farmers’ Union.
Production Date
Circa 1927
1,110 (h) x 500 (w) x 350 (d) mm (on mannequin)