• Tue, Mar 29 2011

Would You Wear: A Victorian Dress Made of Beetle Wings

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all day.

A Victorian dress made from 1,000 beetle wings that was worn by one of the most famous actresses of the era has been restored at a cost of £50,000. The emerald and sea green gown – worn by Ellen Terry when she played Lady Macbeth at London’s Lyceum Theatre in 1888 – will now go on display in Smallhythe Place, Kent. It is covered with the iridescent wings of the jewel beetle which the insects naturally shed as part of their life cycle.

The dress is 120 years old. In addition to being expensive, the activity of restoring it sounds like a bitch:

The one hundred or so wings that were broken were each carefully repaired by supporting them on small pieces of Japanese tissue adhered with a mixture of wheat starch paste.

I don’t have anything much to add to this except, “Whoa, cool” and an eerie moment of wondering why I like this dress made of dead bugs so much.

(Read the full article at The Daily Mail)
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  • Lo

    Provided that no beetles were harmed in the making of the dress: yes; yes, I would. I would also declare myself the Beetle Queen and go everywhere in a chariot drawn by millions of rosechafers. Even to the corner shop.

    • Ashley Cardiff

      Apparently they shed the wings naturally, so yes, you could go down to the deli, having declared yourself the Beetle Queen, and order a sub.

  • Hannah Beth

    I would. Yes. Yes. Yes. I would not, however, walk through the woods, lest I attract a beetle-eating (or beetle-boning) creature.

    I probably wouldn’t wear it to the opera, either, ironically. I imagine it makes a crawly noise when you’re trying to exit quietly.

  • Anne Marie Hawkins

    That is so cool! Those beetle wings were an early version of sequins; also popular at the time were cleaned fish scales used in embroidery. Personally, I think I prefer the modern plastic version.