Asymmetric ball dress

This asymmetric dress was made for the annual Plunket Ball, part of the winter social calendar in Eastbourne, Wellington. Short ball dresses were not usual at
this time and this one was sure to have turned heads. A self taught home sewer, Byllee was inspired by an aunt who sent her hand-made clothes throughout her childhood. As good fortune would have it, Byllee married fabric wholesaler Douglas McDonald of William McDonald & Co Ltd, giving her access to beautiful and unusual fabrics. Making her own clothes provided Byllee a means of finding things to fit her tiny frame and an outlet to express her sense of adventure and individuality. Byllee made clothes for all of her four children. Her talents extended to making daughter Mary Jane’s dance competition and recital costumes, many of which survive today.


Credit: Garment loan courtesy of Mary Jane O’Reilly
Copyright: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 Licence
Maker: Naomi (Byllee) McDonald
Garment type: Ball dress
Material: Printed silk satin, taffeta lining
Colour: Blue, green
Date: Circa 1957