Something Unique in Cycling Suits…

One finds the most unique things when doing fashion research and today is no exception. In my study of 1890s fashions, I came across this interesting extant example of a cycling suit:

Cycling Suit, 1890s; FIDM Museum

When I first viewed this, I thought I was looking at something from the late 1960s or early 1970s…the flower-pattern fabric just simply screams that era. 🙂 This is something that we’ve never seen before. We’ve examined quite a few 1890s era cycling suits, both in person and through photo research, but never have we seen this sort of a fabric used. As a rule, fabrics were usually solids or some sort of a pattern, similar to what one would have found in men’s sack suit It certainly makes you wonder- was this a one-off or simply a variant that never took off in popularity? We’d definitely would like to know more…It certainly makes a bold statement and must have turned heads when it was worn. Unfortunately, a online search of the FIDM Museum collection turned up nothing so we’ll have to employ other research methods. Stay tuned for more…this is certainly an interesting puzzle and we’d like to know more.

Fabric Safari In Montmarte…

Montmarte is a fascinating area of Paris and it also is a major fabric shopping center and so we were naturally attracted to the area. Montmarte is a bit of a hike from where we were staying in the 8 ème Arrondissement but we were able to easily travel there via the Paris Metro.

Our first stop was Les Coupons de Saint Pierre, a stop that was purely by chance- yep, we were taken in by the window displays. 🙂 A note about fabric shopping in France- much of the fabric is sold in the form of coupons which are 3-meter pieces (usually) and in fact, this seems to be the predominant method of selling and many stores only sell fabric this way. However, one can find places that sell by the meter. Les Coupons is one of those places that only sell by the coupon; for our purposes this can be an issue since we usually need dress lengths for our fabric.

Next, we took a look at Marché Saint Pierre, one of the largest fabric stores in Montmarte. Featuring six floors of fabrics and notions, this is a good place to start your fabric search. Unfortunately for us, there was really nothing that stood out as a “must-have” but if we lived locally, this would definitely be a “go-to” fabric store.

Image result for marche saint pierre fabric

We then found these interesting fabrics in red, copper/bronze, and blue-green at La Folie des Tissues:

Finally, we found this exquisite silk lampas at Karin Sajo Collection:

This store is small but features an exquisite selection of specialty fabrics that will work for a variety of projects. It’s not cheap but it’s definitely worth it. 🙂 Finally, just for completeness, we also visited several specialty shops outside of Montmarte but they had nothing that was practical for what we do.

So how’s the fabric shopping in Paris? Overall, from our brief visit, it seemed that there wasn’t as great a selection as we found in London and what we did come across had a limited selection outside of the more common fabrics that one can find anywhere in the world. I suspect that there’s probably a lot of specialty shops that we missed and so we’ll certainly be more alert on our next trip- there has to be more out there, especially given that Paris is the center of haute couture.  🙂 Au revoir!

Some 1890s Bodice Styles

In the course of researching some 1890s dress designs, we came across some interesting bodices that stretch the limits of mid-1890s style. First up is this bodice that utilizes the silhouette to create a floral display:

Bodice, c. 1895-1897; Minnesota Historical Society (9520.11)

While it’s not easy to determine from the picture, this bodice is made from a silk floral brocade combined with inset silk satin insets on the bodice front. What is most striking is that the gigot sleeves have been utilized as a canvas to show off the floral design to its greatest effect. Next is this example that utilizes the bodice’s asymmetrical design to show off the embroidery pattern to it’s best advantage:

The embroidery pattern follows the line of the edge of the bodice’s front opening  along with accents on the bodice bottom and sleeves. The bodice’s black silk satin also serves as a neutral background that further shows up the bright colors of the embroidery. Here’s a close-up of the embroidery pattern:

Another interesting 1890s bodice style was the bodice jacket; this was essentially a bodice that was worn in combination with a waist. Here’s one example from Redfern:

Redfern, Bodice Jacket, 1892; National Gallery of Victoria- Melbourne (D187-1974)

This example is pretty spare, its only decoration is black floral embroidery running along the wide white-colored lapels. Definitely illustrates the idea of “less is more”. The next, example takes the wide lapel idea even further, combining it with an enlarged ivory silk faux waistcoat/vest that overshadows the bottle green velvet jacket. This is interesting in that we see an inversion where the inner garment is larger than the outer garment. Definitely an interesting effect although rarely seen.

Close-up of front.

Detail of front bottom corner of bodice.

The above examples are only a small illustration of the variety of bodice styles that were available during the 1890s and should certainly serve as a source of inspiration for those who desire to recreate the fashions of the 1890s.