24. 1890 Glover, Fry and Co. Dress, McCord Museum

Glover, Fry and Co.
About 1890-1891, 19th century
Fibre: silk (satin, satin brocade, lining, cord), cotton (lining); glass (beads); metal; bone; Sewn
Gift of Mrs. Charles Taschereau
© McCord Museum

Sleeve puffing is in evidence and will continue to develop until it becomes the large gigot sleeve of the mid-decade; the fullness of the bustle has now disappeared and has moved around to the sides in the form of modified paniers. A desire for fullness will continue to express itself in the growing sleeve. The upper part of the fitted cross-over bodice is made of brocade and has a vertical central-front closure with a small faille buttons. The lower part of the bodice is of satin, is draped and crosses over fasten at the left side with hooks and loops. Satin is used for the back. Puffed and fitted long sleeves are fashioned from brocade and trimmed at the wrist with Leavers lace frills. The Medeci collar is of brocade lined with satin, and is embellished with the same lace as that in the wrist frills. Passementerie in a design of running leaves with flowers embellished the upper and lower edges of the cross-over section of the bodice as well as the lower front area of the sleeve. The skirt has gored central panel of brocade; satin is used for the paniers and the remainder of the skirt. The back is full and gathered to the waistline, descending into a long train. A variant of the panier effect or slight side-puffing, a stylistic element of the Taschereau dress and popular earlier in the 1870s, was revived in 1890. 1888 was the year that a small puffed sleeve reappeared; it was worn until 1893, the year in which the larger sleeve becomes popular. The latter was established one year later. Stylistic dating of the Taschereau dress can then be determinated as being between 1890 and 1893. However, a more precise date may be suggested. Donor information indicates that the gown was worn by Adine Dionne for her début, which must have occured before her marriage to Louis-Alexandre Taschereau on May 26. 1891. This brings the end-date for the grown to that year, or the previous year. Glover, Fry and Co., whose label is founded in the Taschereau dress, was an old established Quebec City firm, importers of “High class dry goods,millinery, mantles, laces” : it was founded in 1842. (Excerpt from: BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 42.)

Keys to History

By the late 19th century, fashionable dresses had become much narrower, making it easier for women to pass through doorways. The narrow skirts still restricted mobility, however, forcing women to take tiny mincing steps. The new dresses also gave their wearers a rather unnatural shape because of the exaggerated trains in the back. But young middle-class women concerned with the latest fashions were unlikely to allow comfort to get in the way of a stylish look!

This dress was worn by Adine Dionne for her debut-the special event that marked a girl’s coming of age as an adult member of her social circle.

This dress was made by Glover, Fry and Company, a Quebec City dry goods and millinery firm founded in 1842.

The stylistic details of this dress suggest that it was made between 1890 and 1893.

Young women making their formal debut, or “coming out” into society, would have worn special and very formal dresses for the event.”*