Book Review: 100 Dresses


There is subliminal magic built into the fabric of a luxurious dress. It has a way of oozing romance, elegance, and the possibility of something extraordinary occurring on an otherwise simple evening. A dress can also speak its own language and, as 100 Dresses shows, the tongues are endless. A white lace gown, like the 1901 dress worn by Manhattan aristocrat Winifred Sprague Walker Prosser, brings to mind a traditional white wedding. In Winifred’s time however, the high-necked, mutton sleeved beauty was nowhere near elaborate enough for such an occasion, and was instead worn as a simple day dress.

100 Dresses takes readers through the expansive permanent gown collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a collection generally seen by a privileged few. The pages are laden with covetable dresses ranging from a Mantua frock worn in the late 17th century, a time before design houses (as we know them today) existed, to a House of Dior creation from the Fall 2006 collection. Continue reading