fancy dress

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Mrs Matilda Butters’ “Press Dress” from Melbourne, Australia, 1866-1867

Australian Dress Register, Powerhouse Museum

This dress belonged to Mrs Matilda Butters, second wife of colourful Melbourne politician and businessman James Stewart Butters. It was first worn at the mayor’s fancy dress ball in September 1866, held to celebrate the arrival of the new governor of Victoria, Sir J Manners-Sutton.

The dress was constructed from panels of silk printed with the front pages of Melbourne newspapers. The panels were sewn together to form a bodice, sash and full-length crinoline skirt with train. The skirt, which measured more than five metres around the bottom edge, was made up of 14 panels, each of which were separated and edged with gold braid. The front panels showed the new design for the Town Hall, a portrait of the just-appointed Victorian governor Sir H Manners-Sutton, and Mr Punch as portrayed on the front page of Melbourne Punch

To complete her costume, Mrs Butters wore a coronet headdress proclaiming, ‘Liberty of the press’ and carried a staff with a functioning miniature printing press. Throughout the night she used this press to print lines from Lord Byron’s poem 'Lara’ onto satin ribbons. The dress was in fact such a hit Mrs Butters wore it on a number of subsequent occasions.

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“Would you like something to drink love?” Draco asked with a smile as you moved to sit down for a little bit. You had been dancing the night away with the blonde haired ‘prince’ of Slytherin and to be honest you were starting to need a break. So when he suggested drinks you instantly agreed.

His arm stayed looped around your waist, keeping your body close to him. He had been a perfect gentleman all night, romantic and sweet and caring. It was one of the only times he was like this in public. You were enjoying it, his arm keeping you close to him, the dancing, the suit.

“You look tired princess,” Draco smiled softly as you rested your head against his shoulder. It was nearly two am now, the party was finally winding down and so was everyone else. You simply nodded against his shoulder as he smiled, “Come on, we should get you to bed,” He answered.

As you began to walk out the door you felt Draco sweep you off your feet, now carrying you as you looked at him, a giggle escaping your lips, “What are you doing?” You asked as you wrapped your arms around his neck.

“Treating you how you should be treated,” Draco answered with a grin, “Like a princess.”