Mariano Fortuny lavender silk gown, ca. 1920s, courtesy of MOHAI
Zoë Dusanne may not sound like a familiar name but her influence on the city’s art scene was significant. Dusanne is thought to be Seattle’s first professional modern art dealer. Originally from Kansas, Dusanne attended college at Oberlin and then the University of Illinois, Urbana. She made her way to Seattle after a failed marriage to be with her parents.
In 1913 Dusanne’s mother Letitia Graves founded the Seattle chapter of NAACP and served as the first president. Dusanne and her father were both founding members of the chapter. Dusanne started dabbling in the art world after moving to New York City where she met a number of artists and started learning about modern art.
Dusanne returned to Seattle in 1942 with her art collection and opened up her home at 1303 Lakeview Place as the Zoë Dusanne Gallery which gave Northwest artists a place to have their art in a real professional gallery.
The dress pictured was considered extremely forward-thinking for its time as it didn’t require a corset. Italian designer Fortuny made Delphos gowns for decades, the dresses used finely pleated silk and could fit any form.
Read more about Dusanne on the History Link website.