Evening dress

Object name

Date made


Place made


Beaded 1920s flapper dress with a bead and pearl design that resembles spider webs.

Content description

A scoop necked, sleeveless flapper dress with a dropped waist. This evening dress is beaded and entirely covered in a delicate spider web design, with the design on the bodice and the skirt being slightly different. The top features a spider web design of large circular shapes made of concentric circles of beads, pearls, and silver thread. The chain stitched silver threads are separated by lines of translucent glass beads which connect to the bodice's other circular shapes. In between the large circles are smaller circles with chain stitched silver thread centres, a layer of white silk thread done in tambour work, and a border of pearls. From these smaller circles radiate more lines of translucent glass beads. The dress' glass beads and pearls are tambour worked onto a layer of cream-coloured netting, while the silver threads are not. Each of the 'spider webs' is then couched onto a second layer of net.

The back of the dress is detailed with a hem of glass bedding, and scoops very low, to the small of the back. The skirt and top are visually separated around the hips at the dropped waist, with a thick line of glass beads used to create a repeating circular pattern that is bordered on top and bottom with a line of pearls. These circles are shaped like spider webs, and are the size of a modern pound coin. There are lines around some edges of the dress made up of round silver beads flanked by small glass ones.

The design of the skirt is similar to that of the bodice but is more detailed, uses far more beads, and includes a larger amount of different designs. This includes circular designs in different sizes, abstract foliate designs, and scalloped edges. The design reaches all the way around the dress, following the design from front to back. The edging of the skirt is raw net, leaving around five centimetres without beading.

This dress is in a classic dropped hem, straight lined style which was popular in the early to mid-1920s. It is also common to see the skirt and the top having separate but complimentary designs. The dress reaches to the knees to show the entirety of the leg and the back is also fully shown off when wearing. This risqué silhouette was common for the time period, suggesting the dress was made toward the mid-1920s or the years immediately following it. Light-reflecting beads and sequins had been popular decoration for evening dress for centuries due to their ability to catch and reflect light, but in the 1920s this fashion reached its peak due to the growing quality and strength of electric lighting.


width: 46cm
length: 92cm





Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 1094

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework