Croatian Shift Dress
Croatian shift dress
Unknown designer, Croatia
Gift of Helen Jewett
In 1932, Helen Jewett purchased this dress in the Zagreb region of northern Croatia. Private collectors and cultural institutions began to collect examples of European peasant and regional dress in order to document Europe’s rural “Other” in the late nineteenth century. By the twentieth century, European peasant and regional dress was used to represent an ideal image of folk life in museum collections. In fact, Jewett’s collection of Central European clothing and textiles has been used by Cornell faculty to exemplify European folk arts since 1935 when Blackmore first invited Jewett to talk about her collection at Cornell. However, the linen shift dress Jewett collected in Croatia is characteristic of interwar dress practices that conflated traditional folk art with the cut and silhouette of Parisian fashion. During this period, traditional Croatian motifs, colors, and embroidery techniques were used to embellish contemporary fashions and promote traditional woman’s handiwork. This often led the hem, necklines, cuffs, sleeves, and collars of interwar Croatian dress to be embroidered with traditional designs and motifs.
The fashion and textiles collection within the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, Croatia is one of the largest collections of Croatian textile arts in the country and documents the different styles worn by Croatian peoples from the seventeenth century up until the present day.
In this article, Kartarina Nina Simoncic discusses the interwar dress practices of Croatian women. Her article was published in the 2019 spring issue of the Journal of Dress History.
Taylor, L. (2004). Establishing dress history. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.
Simoncic, K. N. (2019). Women's fashion in Zagreb, Croatia, 1900-1918. The Journal of Dress History, 3(1), 104-129.
Snowden, J. (1979). The folk dress of Europe. New York: Mayflower Books.