And Now For An 1890s Velvet Walking Suit…

Velvet was a go-to fabric for many late 19th Century designs and sometimes it could be taken to extremes as with this circa 1897-1900 walking suit:

Walking Suit, c. 1897-1900; Galliera Musée de la Mode

This is an interesting outfit on several levels. First, it would appear that this is a walking suit of sorts with a long fitted jacket that’s more characteristic of the 1908-1912 time frame while at the same time, the upper sleeves read more late 1890s. From a silhouette perspective, we see the nipped waist characteristic of the 1890s combined with a multi-gored skirt. Unfortunately, we don’t have a frontal view of this garment so we can only guess at what’s going on but based on other examples, it’s most likely that there would have been some sort of real or faux waistcoat/waist combination. Finally, to complete the style, the cuffs are also decorated with a scaled down version of the flame pattern

This most notable feature of this suit is the use of magenta-colored silk velvet on a major scale- both the skirt and bodice/jacket use it on lavishly to the point where it appears that the suit is almost entirely velvet with accents of a lighter shade of magenta-colored fabric- perhaps wool or a silk faille. Even more compelling is that the entire lower part of the skirt is covered in velvet, tapering off in a series of flame or tentacle-like tips in the middle. The overall effect is dramatic, especially since the decorative scheme on the jacket/bodice is similar but reversed with the flames/tentacles going downwards and made from the lighter fabric. Finally, a word about color- this is one of the better examples of the use of saturated jewel tone colors, in this case two shades of magenta and effect is just stunning.

Unfortunately, on a practical level, we also realize that the fabrics and colors read “winter” and as a practical matter, replicating a walking suit similar to this wouldn’t work for us here in the American Southwest. But it would be perfect for a trip to the British Isles… 🙂



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