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Ostrich feather-trimmed bustle gown, ca. 1876. Two-piece taffeta faille, having long sleeve peplum bodice with pleated collar and cuff, decorated with self bows, cream bobbin lace and feathers; trained skirt with vertical ruched panels to the front edged in feathers, bustle back protruding through overskirt with two openings, ruffled hem and large bow detail. Good condition. Feathers are shedding, splits and stains to silk, large tear and stains to train, tarlatan removed from skirt. The decoration is not included. Very rare to find.
Provenance: Helen Larson Collection. Helen Larson was a collector based in Whittier, California. She owned a successful film costume rental business and amassed a world-renowned private collection of historic fashion. She was a brilliant connoisseur and historian. Larson inventory c. 1970 states this gown was worn by Empress Eugenie. Accession card says acquired from Lederman collection and "The gown is said to have been worn by the Empress Eugenie".
Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox y KirkPatrick, 16th Countess of Teba, 15th Marchioness of Ardales (5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo, was the last Empress Consort of the French (1853–70) as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.
She first met Prince Louis Napoléon after he had become president of the Second Republic, with her mother, at a reception given by the "prince-president" at the Elysée Palace on April 12, 1849. Her beauty attracted Louis Napoleon, who, as was his custom, tried to seduce her, but Eugénie told him to wait for marriage. "What is the road to your heart?" Napoleon demanded to know. "Through the chapel, Sire", she answered.
In a speech on 22 January 1853, Napoleon III, after having become emperor, formally announced his engagement, saying, "I have preferred a woman whom I love and respect to a woman unknown to me, with whom an alliance would have had advantages mixed with sacrifices". They were wed, on 29 January 1853, in a civil ceremony at the Tuileries, and on the 30th there was a much grander religious ceremony at Notre Dame (Wikipedia.org).
Bust: ~ 87 cm
Waist: ~ 65 cm
Front Length: ~ 150 cm
Back Length: ~ 190 cm