Some 1890s Style…

The styles of the 1890s never fail to fascinate us here at Lily Absinthe- at the same time they look represent one of the heights of Victorian fashion yet at the same time give a hint of fashion developments to come in later years. To start, here’s a more formal day or reception dress from the mid 1890s:

Day Dress, Mid 1890s; Augusta Auctions, Museum of the City of New York Deaccession.

Three-Quarter Front View

Side Profile

Rear View

Style-wise, this dress has a silhouette characteristic of the 1890s, characterized by an upright cylindrical profile. The skirt and bodice are constructed of a bottle green silk velvet combined with what appear to be silk faille facings and collar created to look like a faux vest underneath (no doubt, it’s all one piece in actuality). The faux vest/waistcoat is especially striking in that it almost jumps out from the dress with its contrasting ivory silk faille set against the bottle green velvet, effect that’s enhanced by the velvet absorbing light because of its texture and depth. Here’s a closer view:

Close-up of front.

The jeweling and decoration on the silk faille further enhances the bodice’s effect:

Detail of front bodice.

Collar Detail

Detail of front bottom corner of bodice.

Detail of facing.

Overall, this is a textbook case of how various different fabrics and colors and be combined to create an effect that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The eye is instantly drawn to the bodice, following the dresses’ vertical silhouette. Unfortunately, there’s no detail as to who designed and constructed this dress so that remains a mystery but never the less, this is a testament to 1890s style in that it’s both backward and forward-looking at the same time. The faux vest/waistcoat is reminiscent of later 18th Century styles while at the same time, the silhouette, fabrics and colors seem point towards later dress styles- the lines are clean and the bodice is restrained in its decoration and balances the skirt nicely. Definitely an aesthetic treat to behold and it will certainly serve as a source of inspiration for us.

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