1780 Robe Retroussee – My Tribute to Avi

I have always been in love with this 1780s French gown from the Met, one for being a gorgeous gown, but because of the way the photograph was styled with the little dog mannequin:

The Met, 1780

To me, the little greyhound-like dog mannequin has always represented Avi, my dearest companion who passed away this time last year.  I had always intended to make this dress and take pictures with Avi, but never got around to it, though Avi participated in many costumed photo shoots over the years.

Avi and I posed together a lot in photo shoots for American Duchess. She would sit herself in the center of the backdrop and refuse to move, so we just went with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I was in LA last week, I found this embroidered silk taffeta and instantly thought of the picture from The Met, and this gown. The fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, but I knew I had to have it, and that even though I’ll never be able to take the picture with Avi, it will remind me of her every time I wear the dress.  So I bought the fabric.

It’s not a match, but it reminded me of the 1780 dress fabric, so I couldn’t pass it up.

Luckily the Met has a lot of pictures of this gown, and I want to be true to the design. I’m hoping to have it done for a trip to Williamsburg in June – I better get stitching!

You can see more angles, and larger images at http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/84611


  • Marti

    March 27, 2015 at 12:18 AM

    A beautiful tribute to Avi. I bet your local shelter has a dog that would love to pose for all of your future projects. What kind of fabric is it?

    • Lauren Stowell

      March 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      We actually adopted another dog of the same breed very soon after Avi died, so we're back up to four in our pack. Her name is Lexi.

  • Gina

    March 27, 2015 at 2:57 AM

    Awe!! This post made me happy and sad at the same time. The loss of a family pet/member is always such a sucky thing. I can't wait to see your new gown that will hold such a wonderful memory of Avi!!

  • Madame Berg

    March 27, 2015 at 9:01 AM

    I'm so sorry about Avi, I didn't know! I remember so fondly how she won the "Cutest sewing pet" competition years ago, much deserved (though my kitten still disagrees, of course). <3

    • Lauren Stowell

      March 27, 2015 at 8:38 PM

      I wasn't public about it, and it still hurts a year later, but I have very fond memories at least, the Cutest Crafting Pet thing one of them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Caroline

    March 28, 2015 at 4:42 AM

    Oh this will be so lovely! I got to see that particular exhibit when it was at the Met. I'll never forget how beautiful it was in person!

    Aw, but I'm so sorry about your dear dog. I almost lost my Harlow last year. I can't even imagine ๐Ÿ™

  • Anna

    April 1, 2015 at 2:57 PM

    I didn't know Avi was gone either…so sorry to hear that. I lost my own "historical dog" Honey (at least, she wouldn't have looked out of place in a London street scene) four years ago and it still really hurts to think about her being gone. So you have my deepest empathy, and I think it's so lovely to still be thinking of Avi with a new project.


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