Lady Curzon's peacock dress

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William Logsdail, 1909, Mary Victoria Leiter, Lady Curzon, oil on canvas
Artist Jean-Philippe Worth (dress), Indian Zardozi workers (textile), William Logsdail (painting)
Year 1903 (1903)

Lady Curzon's peacock dress was a gown made of gold and silver thread designed by Jean-Philippe Worth for Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston to celebrate the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII at the second Delhi Durbar in 1903.

The gown was assembled from panels of chiffon that had been embroidered and embellished by Delhi and Agra craftsmen using the zardozi (gold wire weaving) method. It was then shipped to Paris, where the House of Worth styled the dress with a long train edged with white chiffon roses. The worked panels were overlapping peacock feathers that had a blue/green beetle wing at the center. Over time, the metal thread in the dress has tarnished but the beetle wings have not lost their luster.

The Viceroy, Lord Curzon, organized the second Delhi Durbar in 1903 to celebrate the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII, "the grandest pageant in history", which created a tremendous sensation. The dress was featured in a Chicago Tribune article because Lady Curzon was from Chicago. State portraits were ordered from the artist William Logsdail, but Lady Curzon's portrait was completed in 1909 after her death in 1906. The peacock dress is preserved, together with the Logsdail portrait, at Kedleston Hall.

Lady Curzon was instrumental in promoting the use of Indian embroidery in Western fashion, and many of her friends ordered gowns from Worth using such decorations, though they generally used much less metal threadwork which weighed her dress down. According to its entry at Kedleston Hall, the peacock gown weighs 10 pounds. Another of her embroidered court dresses, assembled by the House of Worth in 1903, is on display at the Fashion Museum, Bath.

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