"My Party Dress:" Mrs. Eddy Visits the House of Pingat, 1878

This sumptuous Victorian silk brocade and silk satin dinner dress by the House of Pingat was purchased in Paris by Mrs. Augustus Newland Eddy (Abbie Louise Spencer, 1850-1909) while traveling with her father in 1878. According to the donor�s family, Mrs. Eddy wore this dress for a portrait painted by G.P.A. Healy. One can only imagine how she felt being painted wearing such a grand dress! (From the Chicago History Museum Collections, more here)

In addition to the survival of her dress, we can also glean something of her knowledge of French haute couture based on entries in her travel log or daybook. Indeed, she referred to this as her �party dress.� Her account also indicates a substantial amount of time was spent shopping not only for herself but others, including Chicagoan Mrs. Marshall Field.
September 13: Arrived in Paris at noon�. Ordered Dell�s [Mrs. Arthur Caton] black dress and Arthur�s suit. 
September 14: To Pingat. Ordered Mrs. F�s dress [Mrs. Marshall Field], Dell�s cloak and mine. To Grange & Majantus. Ordered my bronze dress.  
          September 16: Ordered Dell�s blue dress.
September 17: Ordered my party dress. Bought corsets, shoes�

A photo of Mrs. Eddy with her husband and son, wearing her Pingat dress survives, in addition to the Healy painting.

As noted by the Chicago Historical Museum: Abbie was "the wife of Augustus Newland Eddy, a manufacturer and merchant who later became a member of the Chicago Stock Exchange, she enjoyed traveling abroad and after 1900 made annual trips to Europe. Mrs. Eddy favored French fashions and became highly knowledgeable about the dressmakers and shops in Paris. In addition to her donations of European couture, the Chicago History Museum has many of Mrs. Eddy�s journals and scrapbooks which speak of her visits to Europe�s leading houses of couture. Eventually, many of her friends turned to her for advice on where to shop while in Europe, and Mrs. Eddy would often suggest the houses of Worth, Pingat, Virot, and Doucet."

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