Revolutionary 18th-century gown blows away auction estimate

(Image Credit : De Baecque Auction)
(Image Credit : De Baecque Auction)

It might not be Chanel, Dior or Givenchy, but in Paris a dress has sold at auction for €140,000 ($155,000). It’s estimate was €8,000 – €12,000 ($8,800 – $13,300).

It’s a dress from the 1730s; it’s in mint condition; it might have been worn at Versailles; and it was part of a fashion revolution.

(Image Credit : De Baecque Auction)
(Image Credit : De Baecque Auction)

According to NPR, the gown is known as a “robe volante”or flying dress, and the long, yellow brocade gown is patterned with silver thread. It’s loose-cut, with soft pleats in the rear, a deep V in front and graceful flowing sleeves.

It was purchased by Palais Galliera, a fashion museum in Paris. Curator Pascale Gorguet-Ballesteros told NPR that the “robe volante” is historically significant — for France and for fashion as a whole.

It’s from a time when Parisian style transformed from formal and uncomfortable waistlines enforced by stiff, tight bodices to full and comfy, in fancy fabrics or simple cottons. And according to textile specialist Marie-Noëlle Sudre, when you see it from across the museum, it’s like looking at the sun. [NPR]