A Maid Of Honor Dress, 1896 Style…

Recently we came across some of the earliest use of color pictures in a fashion publication with a set of fashion plates dated 1896 from the French fashion publication La Mode Pratique. They are a fascinating cross between a traditional colored fashion plate and a photograph. While we are not experts on early color photography, we can say that we find it fascinating. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on the publication but the dress styles depicted in the fashion plates are fascinating. In this post and future posts we’ll be presenting a few of these for your viewing pleasure so enjoy!


Spring is coming and that means weddings…featured in an 1896 issue of the French fashion publication La Mode Pratique, this dress was billed as a Maid of Honor dress although it would have been just as suitable for plain daytime wear:

From the above copy, this dress is described as being made from a “lettuce” green-striped silk pekin with a darker green velvet belt. The bertha and the pleated inner front bodice are a white silk muslin.1Note- This is a very loose translation; our French is not the best so we apologize if something got left out. One interesting thing to note is that pekin fabric is defined as a warp-striped fabric made of various fibers (in this case silk) with different colors and/or weaves form the stripes which are all the same width and evenly spaced. Often pekin would have stripes that would alternate in velvet or gauze and satin.2The Dictionary of textiles, 8th Edition by Phyllis G. Tortora and Ingrid Johnson. As applied to the above illustration, silk pekin is definitely a good choice, giving a wide scope for various effects with colors, textures, and luster. Finally, the hat makes a perfect accompaniment for the dress and the colors harmonize nicely. In contrast with a lot of today’s bridal wear, this dress was clearly meant to carry on long after the wedding was through. 🙂

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