The style of this nightgown derives from the Japanese kimono. Kimonos first appeared in Western Europe in the 1650s as annual gifts from the Japanese shoguns (hereditary commanders-in-chief of the Japanese army) to members of the Dutch East India Company. They became popular garments in Europe and the demand for them soon outstripped the supply from Japan. Both the Dutch and English East India companies began importing kimonos from India, made of the printed cottons available there.
Materials & Techniques
The nightgown is T-shaped and hand-sewn of salmon-pink satin with a floral pattern in purple, pale blue, emerald green, lime green, orange and deep pink. The fabric is either French or Italian in origin and woven about 1680. The gown is lined with blue Chinese silk damask (a woven material whose effect depends on the differing play of light on its pattern surfaces, which alternate between the smooth face and the contrasting reverse of satin weave).
Ownership & Use
Various styles of informal gown had been in use in England since the 16th century. In the late 17th century women wore westernised versions of the kimono as informal gowns over stays (a stiff corset) and a petticoat. This ensemble would be worn when getting up in the morning and before dressing in the formal clothes required for public activities. At the end of the day, many women removed their mantuas (gowns) and donned a nightgown for relaxing in private at home.