And Never Say Never…More On Emile Pingat

When it comes to fashion, the phrase “never say never” definitely applies. No sooner had I posted my commentary on Emile Pingat’s use of  relatively simple designs, minimal trim, and overall elegant simplicity, I immediately came across an afternoon dress made by him from circa 1896 that seems to be the opposite and in fact looks like a hot mess: 🙂

Emile Pingat Afternoon Dress 1896

Emile Pingat, Afternoon Dress, c. 1896; De Young Museum, San Francisco (1998.170a-b)

However, upon reflection, there is a certain logic to that “hot mess”…First, the dress has relatively clean lines and restrained sleeves place this more towards the late 1890s when the leg-of-mutton sleeve craze had passed its zenith. but what is remarkable is that skirt is a striped black and white striped cotton velveteen covered by an overlayer of purple wool flannel that had a cut out art nouveau design. In some ways, the effect is reminiscent of the slashing found on Renaissance doublets.

The bodice continues the purple flannel overlay and black and white striped cotton and the sleeves are also done in the underlying striped fabric. The bodice is structured to give the effect of a jacket with an inset faux waist of  aqua panné velvet. Overall, the silhouette is fairly conventional except for the purple overlay with the cutout design.

However, as with many of Pingat’s designs, the focus is on the fabrics themselves and this dress is no exception with Pingat’s dramatic use of the wool flannel overlay. I only wish that there were more pictures available of this dress- it bears close examination. So in the end, while it may seem to be a bit over-the-top, it does fall firmly in the Pingat “school of design” in that the style’s effect is solely based on the fabrics speaking for themselves. 🙂

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