They wanted to know whether this was a dress from one of Carole Lombard's films, or one she wore privately. At the same time, I wondered whether this was actually a color photo, or one that was merely tinted.
So I contacted Carole Sampeck at The Lombard Archive, the place to get questions such as these answered. Here's her reply:
"My understanding is that this was a 'natural color' photo, and that it was NOT one of the hand-tinted things. I don't believe this was part of her private wardrobe, but it doesn't look familiar. My guess is that it was a fashion shot for a fan magazine, although she is wearing her own personal jewelry."
It's a lovely shot -- the peach shade of the dress is dramatically vivid -- and I'm guessing it was taken about 1939 or 1940. In fact, it's so attractive I'm surprised it didn't run on a cover of a magazine; if it did, I've never come across it. Initially, I thought it was a 1940 cover from Photoplay, but here's the picture I mistook it for, from January of '40:
If the picture on top was actually a cover of some magazine, please let me know.