A 1912 Presentation Dress

Just for a change of pace, today we feature this circa 1912 presentation dress:

Presentation Dress, c. 1912; Augusta Auctions

In terms of general silhouette, the dress definitely follows the convention of the time with its emphasis on a more slender, upright figure. This dress is constructed from a gold silk satin and trimmed with gold lace and embroidery. On the skirt is an asymmetrical fantastical embroidered floral design that curves around the dress front and places major emphasis on the right side.  The dress appears to consist of a skirt that’s been constructed so as to give the effect of a double skirt on the side and has a long train. While the auction house description calls this a “presentation dress,” this could easily be a reception or evening dress of some type. Without more information on the provenance, it’s hard to tell. As with the skirt, the bodice is also asymmetrical with the emphasis placed on the left shoulder to balance the style effect.

Here’s a view of the dress back along with the train:

Here’s some close-up views of the dress that give a good view of the embroidery:

This dress is a good example of a gown meant for wear at the most formal of occasions and definitely displays the early teens design aesthetic. In future posts, we’ll be featuring more examples so stay tuned. 🙂



Happy Friday!

It’s Friday and today we’re taking a break from our usual posts and simply expressing gratitude for it being the end of the week. 🙂



An Early 1890s Day Dress

Sometimes we spot an interesting dress and just like to call attention to it. 🙂 Often, there’s not a lot of information on these so in some cases we are admittedly speculating but that’s half the fun. 🙂


Recently we came across this interesting circa 1893 day dress made by a one Mme Duboys of Paris that’s held by the Fashion Museum Bath.

Day Dress, c. 1893; Fashion Museum Bath

This dress is constructed from a black striped pink silk satin and trimmed with black lace on the lower sleeves and collar. Silhouette-wise, this is definitely leans towards the early 1890s- the sleeve style is full but hasn’t developed into the full-on gigot sleeve style that was to come long a couple of years later. This dresses effectively uses the black stripes to accentuate the dress’s silhouette and especially showing off the skirt’s bias cut on the rear panels. On the sleeves, the stripes are built up into strips of black velvet (at least that’s what it appears to be with the resolution of the photos), giving an effect reminiscent of Renaissance dress bodices.

As can been seen from the picture below, the stripes are arranged into chevrons that lead the eye upwards; it’s a classic fashion design standard. 🙂

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information about this dress online (hopefully one day we’ll be able to return to the Fashion Museum Bath in person and take a closer look at this dress) but to us, it’s an aesthetically pleasing dress of the period from a lesser couturier, which doesn’t make it any less compelling than dresses from Worth, Doucet, or Pingat. 🙂



Fashion Transition- 1890, Part 2

Jules Benoit Ivy, Femme dans un Atelier, 1890

In our last post, we discussed some of the styles that were trending in early 1890 starting with the Directoire and Redingote styles. Today we move on to take a look at the jacket-bodice and pseudo-robe styles. This example from the early 1890s gives a good close-up view of the jacket-bodice style:

Jacket/Vest Bodice, c. early 1890s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.55.41.3)

The jacket-bodice combines a fairly standard  form-fitting jacket with a faux vest that’s reminiscent of an 18th Century waistcoat. The faux waistcoat extends well jacket to reveal elaborate embroidery work that flows up the open front, ending at the neckt in a Mandarin collar. The close-up below provides a nice view of the embroidery:

The “faux vest” could often took the form of shirring made to look like a waist as with this circa 1890-1893 Worth day dress:

Worth, Day Dress, c. 1890 – 1893; Kerry Taylor Auctions

With this dress, the shirring runs down the opening in the outer bodice and then picks up again with the skirt front. The white shirring provides an interesting contrast to the black floral patterned dark green silk satin, especially in that the fashion seemingly sucks up light and the white shirring throws out light; the eye can’t help but be drawn to the dress front and then up to the wearer’s face. Below is a close-up of the bodice front:

And for another take on the jacket-bodice style, here’s  a circa 1890 afternoon dress made by Worth:

Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1890; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2015.688.a-b)

This dress combines a bolero style jacket constructed from a black and orange-brown patterned velvet with a lighter copper-colored silk satin vest/underbodice combined with an outerskirt of the same color. The underskirt utilizes the same black and orange-brown patterned velvet trimmed with embroidered flower appliques along the sides and bottom. With this dress, the contrast is one of harmonizing yet different fabrics.

One interesting variation on the jacket-bodice style is this circa 1890 reception dress that has the jacket acting as more of a redingote style:

Reception Dress, c. 1890; Goldstein Museum of Design (2013.004.012)

The jacket/coat is a black and olive green striped silk taffeta with gold/red floral motifs. The underskirt is a solid black silk taffeta trimmed with black jet beading. Finally, the collar is trimmed with black ostrich feathers. Below is a side profile:

Sometimes it’s difficult to neatly classify dress styles but this one to us emphasizes the outer jacket/coat as more of an unified bodice/overskirt rather than simply a coat over a skirt.

Finally, we take a look at the pseudo-robe style. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of extant examples but here’s an early 1890s dinner dress made by Worth:

Worth, Dinner Dress, c. 1890-1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.636a, b)

Looking at large sash and knot combined with the plunging neckline this dress is reminiscent of a kimono and the floral pattern silk jacquard further reinforces the Japonisme style. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of extant examples of this style.

Rear View

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this all-too-brief over of fashion in early 1890 and we’re always on the search for fresh content so stay tuned! 🙂

Illustrated London News, c. 1890

 



Fashion Transition- 1890, Part 1

Mary Endicott (neé Chamberlain) by John Everett Millais, 1890 – 1891; Birmingham Museums (1989P60)

The 1890s opened with styles that were little different the year before but at the same time there was change, especially with a de-emphasis on the bustle/train. Yes, it’s still there a little but it’s less prominent and the look is softening up. To better illustrate this, below are a series of fashion plates from Peterson’s Magazine that cover the January through April, 1890:

Peterson’s Magazine, January 1890

Peterson’s Magazine, February 1890

Peterson’s Magazine, March 1890

Peterson’s Magazine, April 1890

In the above plates, we see a mix of styles with a varying degree of emphasis on the train/bustle. Also, we’re seeing a lot of the Directoire/redingote and jacket-bodice/faux vest styles in varying degrees; the jacket-bodice style was to further develop in the 1890s and especially with walking suits. At the same time, we see a series of pseudo-robe styles that seek to suggest somewhat loosely fitting robes, somewhat suggestive of aesthetic dress although they’re still fairly structured.

So, let’s take a look at each of these developing styles, staring with the Directoire and redingote styles.

The key elements of the Directoire style, as applied to the late Nineteenth Century, were jackets with wide lapels combined with simple, mostly un-trained skirts. Also, the Directoire style was often closely aligned with the redingote style and both were often combined as seen with this example:

One of the most eye-catching features of Directoire style were the lapels/revers. Here’s a few more interesting examples that we’ve recently come across:

In the above example from the October 1892 issue of La Revue de la Mode, we see a set of very wide, pointed lapels on a jacket with a diagonally cut front that calls away to reveal a white waist or pseudo-waist. The striped skirt offers an interesting contrast and the whole effect is a geometrical collection of straight lines going in a variety of directions. Along the same lines is this style on the left illustrated in an 1892 fashion plate from La Mode Française:

In terms of style, with its long revers and overall length, this one leans more towards a Louis XVI style but still overlaps somewhat in that the jacket is clearly mean to be worn open, displaying an ornately trimmed waistcoat (or pseudo waistcoat), complemented by the embroidered trim on both revers. Elaborate decorative designs were a characteristic of Directoire style, especially with the larger lapels that provided the perfect “canvas” as with this illustration from the March 1899 issue of The Delineator:

Both of these outfits are amazing and a bit over-the-top. The left dress features an elegant coat with elaborate decorative patterns that were no doubt, done in silver and jet beading (or some combination thereof). Although the fabric is not specified here, we envision a black silk velvet . The pale blue skirt offers an interesting color contrast with its white floral applique pattern running along the hem. The perfect outfit for Spring. The outfit on the right is a bit more dramatic with its burnt orange jacket combined with a green skirt with a vertical soutache pattern running down the front. The contrast colors make for a harmonious package that sets the stage for the dramatic striped patterns on the lapels and collar; these definitely catch the eye and direct focus towards the wearer’s face.

Like the Directoire style, the redingote had its origins in the early 19th Century and so it only makes sense to also see its revival, albeit in a more limited form. Essentially, there were two basic redingote styles during the late 1880s/early 1890s: the functional coat meant to be worn as outerwear and the redingote as part of a complete dress style. In this post, we’re going to focus on the redingote as a dress style. For a little history, the redingote’s origins go back to the 18th Century and the term itself is a French corruption of “riding coat.” Initially, the redingote was a closely fitted coat with a flared skirt and was intended to be worn while horseback riding. Over time, the redingote evolved to something more formal that was worn for a number of social occasions. The redingote was inspired by men’s styles and as such they were typically made by a tailor as opposed to a mantua-maker. For a little historical context, here are some illustrations:

Redingote, c. 1790; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2009.120)

Some insight into the revival of the redingote can be found in this description from the January 12, 1889 issue of Harper’s Bazar:

The garment most worn this winter, which hitherto has been as mild as that of Nice, is the redingote; and if severe weather should suddenly set in and oblige us to take refuge in furs, suspending the usefulness of the redingote, it will resume its ascendancy again next March. Made as it is now, it closely resembles a man’s coat. The revers are cut and rolled in the same fashion, the sleeves are similar, and the bodice of the street dress over which it is worn, usually of cloth, or Cheviot [a variety of wool fabric], or sometimes faille, bears the same relation to it as the masculine waistcoat to the coat.

The redingote, which is almost as long as the dress, is worn with different dresses, but if it is slashed in the back the breadths of the dress are usually of the same color, only the bodice front and skirt being different, as for instance, a black redingote over a dress which has back breadths of black faille. The great and unfortunate popularity which it has attained is entirely owing to our unusually mild temperature. All the fur-lined long cloaks and small wraps are as yet unemployed although doubtless their turn will come.

Beside the redingote cloak there are many pretty redingotes which form part of the dress, of brocade, or of Pompadour silks; these have revers turned back on the front, sometimes meeting at the waist with the open space above filled in by a lace plastron; below the waist, it spreads apart again, displaying a skirt of glacé silk, with embroidery or passementerie, or of a crêpe de Chine embroidered.

Simpler but not less pretty is a redingote  of plain or changeable silk opening on a plastron and skirt front of ancient silk— some old silk of the eighteenth century, which may possibly have been employed for furniture drapery in the interim, and is now restored to its original use. There is a perfect rage for old-time silks at this moment, and when one does not possess a sufficient quantity to make an entire skirt front, still there must be enough at least to furnish a gathered plastron and a collar and cuffs for a dress restored to its original use.

The above quote differentiates two styles of redingotes: one that was a full-on coat; and one that was part of a dress style. The coat style is fairly simple and functional as noted in the December 1891 issue of Demorest’s Family Magazine:

Probably there is no garment more convenient and comfortable for cold weather than a redingote: it is thoroughly protective, the arms are free, and it constitutes a complete walking-costume in itself. The “Lorenza” is a perfectly plain, double-breasted garment with a lap in the middle seam in the back, and is adapted to all seasonable materials suit able for outer garments. The illustration represents tan-colored, rough-surfaced cloth, trimmed with seal far. The hat is of brown velvet with brown ostrich-tips and a bow of orange-colored velvet.

Here’s an illustration of the Lorenza pattern redingote:

For a better idea of what they looked like, here’s one extant redingote that I found on the Augusta Auctions website:

In viewing the above redingote, it appears that it’s most likely late 1880s vintage: it’s structure is clearly shaped to accommodate a bustled skirt. This is an interesting combination of functional and decorate styles and definitely fulfills its function as outerwear.

Now let’s take a look at some dress redingote styles starting with this style featured in the April 1881 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:

Below is a full description of the style:

No. 2 Is a walking costume for a young lady, the material of which is summer camel’s hair cloth, light twilled flannel, de laine, de beige, albatross, cloth, or any of the endless variety of spring fabrics, may be used for this style of dress. The skirt, has, first a narrow knife-plaiting two and a-half inches deep. Over this, a side plaiting, or more properly a kilt-plaiting, a-half yard deep, on to which a puff is laid, six inches
from the bottom. This puff is gathered with a cord in the edge.

The polonaise is a revival of the old fashioned Redingote—cut with loose fronts and a tight-fitting back—belted in at the waist to fit the figure. This garment is double-breasted and finished with a rolling collar of silk or velvet. The belt, cuffs, loops, and ends, forming the garniture of the polonaise, are all made of silver silk or velvet, to match, or else of a contrasting color, or darker shade of the same color.

From the illustration may be seen about how far in front to leave the garment open. The edges arc simply piped with the silk. The fullness in the back is arranged in irregular pouffs. A similar bow of loops and ends is placed at the back, just below the waist line. The bows may be made of ribbon, if preferred. Ten to twelve yards of double width material will be required. For collar, cuffs, and belt, three-quarters of a yard of silk or velvet. One yard extra for loops or four yards of ribbon. Two dozen buttons. Fancy buttons are most fashionable.

Besides the technical details, what’s interesting is that the idea that the polonaise is a revival of the redingote. This is an interesting proposition although we’re more included to think that it’s more of a blurring of styles. From the example above, it would seem that the redingote itself has been modified to be more loose towards the bottom and treated as more of an overskirt.  Moving forward, we see another Redingote style in the September 1888 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:


Unfortunately, there’s no description but it’s clear that this style runs fairly true to the classic 1790s style with a double-breasted front combined with skirt opening up to reveal a patterned underskirt. And for a little variation, there’s this style from the October 1890 edition of Peterson’s Magazine:


The above dress is described as a:

…handsome street or traveling gown. It is made of gray cashmere or camel’s hair. The petticoat, of two tints of gray in stripes, is kilt-plaited [pleated] on the left side, up to the waist. The overdress is the newest style of redingote polonaise, the front of which has a few plaits near the waist to give a slight fullness. The back of the skirt is very full. The trimming for this gown is of gray plush or fur, as the individual taste may decide…

The above redingote is styled as more of a robe than a coat but the effect is similar. Another variation of sorts can be found in these two dresses by Pingat:

Reception Dress, Emile Pingat, c. 1885; Shelburne Museum (2010-75)

Three-Quarter Rear View

Pingat, Promenade Dress, 1888; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.7758a, b)

Rear View

Right Side Profile

These two dresses are very similar in style and look back more to the mid-Eighteenth Century with  the cut of the coat and trim details. The redingote dress style was an interesting style variant in the 1880s and 1890s and while in many respects it reflected its 18th and early 19th Century predecessors, it also added new elements such as the robe. Unfortunately for us, there are not a lot of extant examples out there so we’ve had to work through fashion publications and the fact that patterns were offered through publications such as Peterson’s and Demorest’s suggests that there was a demand for these designs by the public.

(To be continued…)