Fashion often draws upon the past for inspiration and this was especially true during the late 19th Century. Like Doucet, and others, Emile Pingat often drew inspiration from 18th Century designs, using them as a backdrop for his own unique style in which he blended elaborate decoration with exquisite fabrics:
The bodice is a polonaise with vest that provides a feminine version of an 18th Century men’s coat and waistcoat. The cutaway style of the polonaise provides for displaying the vest’s gold bullion embroidery to its best advantage and it complements the elaborate embroidery running down both revers of the polonaise. The jewel toned claret colored velvet of the polonaise and skirt provide a deep background for the ivory white vest and combined with the gold embroidery, the look is sumptuous yet not overdone. Further embroidery is used on the side pocket flaps and the back of the polonaise with restraint and claret is allowed to show through clearly.
Pingat employs the velvet polonaise/skirt/vest combination again in this creation that was made a little later circa 1888, only this time in green tones:
Here we see a polonaise and skirt constructed from a deep bottle-green velvet combined with a vest of a lighter shade of green. The embroidery appears to be a combination of gold bullion and another shade of light green that complements the polonaise, vest, and skirt. As with the first example, the embroidery is used with restraint, mostly trimming the front revers, rear, and side pockets of the polonaise. Colorwise, the first dress provides more of a contrast while the second dress works more in a single color pallette. For both of the above dresses, large expanses are unadorned with just the velvet showing. Overall, the effect is elegant and sumptuous but restrained.
The above is just a small sampling but it demonstrates Pingat’s mastery of design in that his combinations of fabric and decorate treatments are carefully contrived for maximum effect- nowhere does it feel like he simply piled on fabric and trim as often was the case with Worth. Finally, while many believe that today’s fashions are completely divorced from the past in terms of inspiration, such as not the case as with this design from Dior:
As it is often said, nothing is really new in fashion. 🙂