Federation Dress

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Detail of bodice of Federation Dress
Source: Museum Victoria

This full-length, beaded, black-net and silk-satin dress was worn by Mrs Sabina Peipers to the opening of Federal Parliament, held at the Royal Exhibition Building on Thursday 9 May 1901.

Mrs Peipers accompanied her father, the Imperial German Consul W.A. Brahe, to the opening. Brahe is depicted in Charles Nuttall’s painting HRH The Duke of Cornwall and York opening the First Commonwealth Parliament, commissioned to commemorate the great occasion.

The day’s proceedings began at 12 noon. In front of a crowd of 12,000 people, the Duke of Cornwall and York and the Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun, read speeches and prayers, including a message from the King, then the federal parliamentarians were sworn in.

Proceedings concluded with a concert for the invited dignataries and guests; The Argus reported 'Every lady wore her prettiest frock and her richest jewellery'.

This elegant evening dress was reworked, using the original bodice and fabric, around 1910-14, with the new slimmer silhouette fashionable at that time.