Out And About In Munich, Part 1

First day in Munich…after an incredibly long flight due to delays caused by mechanical issues, we have finally arrived in Munich! After a good night’s rest, we then set out to get acquainted with the City.  The first stop on our list was the Munich Residenz Museum, formerly the main palace of the House of Wittlesbach, the family who ruled Bavaria from 1180 through 1918 (interestingly enough, Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria never abdicated his throne so technically, Bavaria could have a Wittlesbach as a king again).

The Residenz Museum is a fairly large complex divided into three main areas: the Residenzmuseum, Treasury, and Cuvilliés Theatre. Just to note, much of the entire complex was severely damaged during WWII and what we view today is largely been rebuilt although many of the original fittings survived. Below are some views from our visit, beginning with the Residenz itself. First up is the grottenhof which is essentially a grotto covered with sea shells and decorated with busts of various Roman Emperors and Bavarian nobles:

This area was not in the best condition and signage was minimal so we had to draw our own conclusions, at least until we’d purchased a guidebook. Next is the Antiquarium:

Originally built from 1568-1571 by Duke Albrecht V, this was originally intended as a hall to house his various antiques (mostly Classical Greece and Rome supplemented by a lot of crude knock-offs). However, over time, the hall was expanded by Albrecht’s successors and used for various large scale social events- the hall is HUGE and could easily fit 500 or more. Our pictures don’t do justice to the sheer scale.

The Residenz was expanded over time with various additions added, creating a veritable labyrinth and it’s easy for the visitor to get overwhelmed by the sheer scale. Here’s a few more pictures of later additions:

In terms of architecture and decor, the Residenz reflects a variety of styles, heavily represented by Baroque, Louis XIV, and Neo-Classical styles. The sheer volume of furnishings, china, silver, and various objects d’art were overwhelming and there’s enough there to warrant at least two or three trips. After about two hours, we decided to take a break and go to bunch at this nice cafe that located close by…

(To be continued…)

Modes Pour La Plage – 1870s Style

Seaside fashion has always been a theme in 19th Century fashion and a a standard feature in most fashion journals of the time. Much of what’s depicted in fashion plates of the late 19th Century that’s labeled “seaside” are really no more than conventional warm weather styles that could just as easily be used in a variety of settings and there’s nothing really uniquely “seaside” about them and in fact, some seem pretty elaborate for an outdoor setting by the beach. But, fashion is always interesting even if the context is a bit muddied:

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 32, August 1876

The above plate is interesting on a few levels- from the background, it appears that the two ladies are talking to a man in front of what can only be changing sheds, judging from all the clothes on the rail. We suspect that it’s more about the men changing into clothes more suitable for going in the water… Style-wise, we see the Mid-Bustle/Natural Form Era in full flower with the dress on the left wearing a Directoire style bodice/coat worn with a trained skirt. The use  of vertical lines on the coat/bodice and the horizontal trim stripes on the skirt are an interesting combination that’s not often seen. The dress on the right is a bit more conventional with a polonaise worn over a plain trained skirt. The Polonaise is combined with a matching apron/short overskirt, creating an interesting silhouette. Of course, we speculating here a little and we wonder if this was ever actually constructed.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 27, July 1876

With the dress on the left, long pleats and outline trim accentuates the demi-train.  The cuirass bodice sweeps below the hips, further accentuating the overall silhouette. The dress on the right has a smaller train and instead places emphasis on vertical lines, especially the two revers running along the bodice front.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 36, September 1876

In the above plate, the dress on the left seems to be a compromise style where the hip bustle and train have not been completely abandoned. Also, the elaborate tassel trim running along the overskirt give the dress a more busy appearance, distracting somewhat from the overall silhouette. The dress on the right follows a princess line, de-emphasizing the hip and waist and placing the focus on the front and lower skirt with a combination of large bows and pleating.

Of course, the above dress styles would work in a number of environments other than just the beach but it must be noted that these are fashion plates, which by their very definition are meant to depict idealized fashions in idealized locations. Basically, they’re more about fantasy and that fantasy in turn generates sales. But in spite of the fantasy element, these plates are an interesting illustration of Mid-Bustle style. One final note- efforts were made to devise more practical beach wear but it was going to be a lengthy process; for more on this, check here.

And A Salute To Ludwig II…

With our upcoming trip to Bavaria, one can not get too far from Ludwig II. A king that was more interested in the arts than in ruling, Ludwig II left his unique stamp on Bavaria, leaving behind some beautiful monuments in the form of his various palaces and castles such as Neuschwanstein Castle. Ludwig II was also instrumental in providing patronage to composer Richard Wagner. In future posts, we’ll have more about the good king. 🙂

Gabriel Schachinger, Portrait du Roi Louis II de Bavière – 1887 König von Bayern Ludwig II

Transitioning Into The Mid-Bustle Era…

Even as early as 1876, one can see the transition away from the full trained style characteristic of the First Bustle Era to the Mid Bustle or “Natural Form Era.” This transition was a gradual one, gathering steam until coming into full flower by 1878. One of the best sources for documenting fashion change is through mass media and especially fashion magazines. Of course, these do need to be used with a bit of caution in that often they were ahead of their audiences and not everyone would immediately adopt a new style (even if they had the financial means to do so).

To begin, let’s look at this fashion plate from January 1875 of Le Moniteur De La Mode:

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 3, January 1875

Here we see the full train and bustle style in full flower, especially with the one pictured on the right. And here’s a few more examples focusing on day wear:

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 4, January 1875

Some more seemingly transitional styles- note the bodice extends over the hips with the dress on the right. We’re unable to tell with the dress on the left due to the mantle but the mantle pretty much neatly covers the hips. With both dresses, the bustle and train are restrained, making for a smooth silhouette.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 5, January 1875

The dress on the right maintains the earlier train/bustle style but it’s a bit tucked in towards the middle which acts to control the fullness. On the other hand, with the dress on the left, we see a hybrid of sorts that also maintains the earlier train/bustle style but then maintains a fairly large skirt volume all the way to the hem- to us, it almost seems that this style is trying to create a modified bell skirt style reminiscent of the 1860s. Not the most flattering style, to say the least.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 46, November 1875

Finally, with this example, we see another attempt to tighten up the silhouette and place a greater emphasis on a low demi-train. It’s definitely a hint at what’s to come. The above plates, along with others from the 1875 issues of  Le Moniteur De La Mode show an interesting mix of dresses: some have the extensive trains and bustles characteristic of the First Bustle Era while others show a smoother, more restrained style although the bustle is still noticeable at hip level.

Moving forward into 1876, we see the near-total elimination of any sort of bustle at hip level and an extension of the bodice over the hips. Also, interestingly enough, we see a number of dresses constructed in a princess line style with no waistline whatsoever. At the same time, we see greater emphasis being placed on the lower skirt and the development of a more complex lower train. Below are some examples from the 1876 issues of Le Moniteur De La Mode:

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 33, August 1876

The above dress is especially compelling with its clean princess line that emphasizes a cylindrical silhouette, aided by the stripped fabric that further serves to emphasize the vertical line. At the bottom, there’s a very simple multi-pleated demi-train. The whole effect is drastically different than what was before.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 40, September 1876

With the above two dresses we see the cuirass bodice in full flower, completely covering the hips. Both dresses also employ extensive pleating and swagged fabric which accentuates the cylindrical silhouette of the Mid-Bustle Era and it combined with extensive trains (well, we’re assuming for the dress on the right).

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 45, November 1876

And without the swagging and pleating except along the hem and train. The dress on the right have a very elaborate train that’s an extension of the over and under skirts and they provide an interesting contrast both in color and texture. On the right, we see a more simple princess line dress that employs a rust brown and blue patterned overskirt over a plain rust brown underskirt. Both examples have no train at hip level and the train has been pushed to the bottom of the dress. No matter if it’s a princess line or not, the emphasis is on a slender “natural” form that’s been sculpted through corsetry and the right underpinnings. 🙂

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 47, November 1876

Finally, this dress displays all the attributes of the Mid Bustle Era style with very precise, clean lines. With this dress, the strategically placed striped edging delivers the greatest impact and creates a look that definitely reads “18th Century revival”. Christian Lacroix would be proud. We’ll conclude this post by saying that the above commentary is based on a very small sample of fashion illustrations culled from two years of one fashion publication but it’s still compelling to see an evolutionary process happening right in front of us on its pages. We intend to delve into this a bit more and hopefully gain a better understanding about how fashions evolve and change.