Dinner dress

Designer: Mme. Grapanche

Date: 1884–86

Culture: American

Medium: silk

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. J. Randall Creel, 1963

Accession Number: C.I.63.23.3a, b


The bustle was at its greatest extension by 1885. It was almost perpendicular to the back and heavily upholstered. The 1880s versions were as padded and heavily embellished as a drawing-room hassock of the period. It was a popular conceit that the cantilevers of these bustles could support an entire tea service. To sustain the greater weight of the 1880s gowns, light and flexible infrastructures were created with flexible materials--wire, cane, whalebone--held together by canvas tapes or inserted into quilted channels.