When is comes to the term “casual,” it’s always a matter of degree when applied to the late Nineteenth Century and especially for the 1890s. Recently, we came across this interesting circa 1897 day dress made by a one P. Barroin of Paris:
P. Barroin, Day Dress, Paris, France, c. 1897; FIDM Museum (2010.1098.3A-C)
This dress is constructed from a printed cotton fabric featuring a red and white pattern with silk taffeta trim on the skirt bottom and bodice/sleeves. The style is classic 1890s although the sleeves are bit more restrained than the usual large gigot/leg-of-mutton sleeves commonly found in the 1895-1897 time frame. Also present is the wasp-waist, measuring 28 inches in diameter, which in turn helps create the characteristic “X” line silhouette. Finally, inset in the middle of the bodice of silk chiffon shirring which creates the effect of a waist being worn underneath although the bodice would have been one unit. Overall, this is a sporty day dress with a minimum of trim and embellishment and was definitely meant for day wear in public; the straw boater hat further reinforces this sporty effect. This dress is representative of the more casual daytime styles of day wear that were coming into vogue during the 1890s and as such acted as a counter some of the more extreme looks one can see with evening wear of the period. This is definitely a worthy candidate for reproduction. 🙂
Today’s tea gown selection was created by Maison Worth sometime in the 1890s and presents a style that looks back more to the 18th Century Robe à la Française, a dress style that was popular during the years 1720-1780 than the 1890s:
Worth, Tea Gown, c. 1890s; Kent State University Museum (1983.001.0179 ab)
This gown is consists of an outer part constructed of a pink silk brocade with an Oriental floral motif. The inner part consists of the front and sleeves and are constructed of a gold silk brocade featuring a floral motif similar to the the outer part. Also, below the waist the fabric is covered with a lace forepart and finally, there’s a faux stomacher (stomachers were normally a separate item but here it’s integrated into the overall gown) also made of a silk brocade and is jeweled. Here’s a closer view of the gown front:
The sleeves are also trimmed with lace and the interior of the sleeves are lined with a red velvet. Also, the edges of the front are trimmed in red velvet and one can see two inset panels flanking the stomacher. Finally, to finish things off, there’s a lace jabot. Below are more pictures of the gown from various angles:
And with the rear views, we get a good look at the Wateau Back, a fairly standard feature for tea gowns during the late Nineteenth Century and the style characteristic of the Robe à la Française. From a style/design perspective, this is a very busy gown between the floral designs, lace, and pink and gold silk base fabrics. Of course, this complexity of design is to be expected from Maison Worth. As for dating this gown, while it’s difficult to make a precise guess, we think that it’s safe to say that judging from the relatively restrained sleeve caps that it probably wasn’t made in the Mid-1890s but rather more likely either early or late in the decade. Ultimately, this gown is an excellent example of how prior fashion styles inspired design and this one takes is pretty far by even including a faux stomacher. Upon initial viewing it appears to actually BE an 18th Century gown and it actually had us fooled for a moment. 🙂 We hope you’ve enjoyed this unique example of a tea gown as interpreted by the leading couture house of the time, Maison Worth. Stay tuned for more! 🙂
Part of our fabric collection acquired during the course of our travels. We are looking forward to transforming these fabrics into wonderful dresses and gown just for you! 🙂
Aesthetic, or Artistic, dress was an outgrowth of the Aesthetic Movement and as such, was a fashion trend that arose out of reaction to the heavily structured and trim heavily trimmed fashions of the late Nineteenth Century. In contrast, the Aesthetic Dress movement focused on basing fashion on simplicity of design and quality materials. Aesthetic Dress drew many of its ideas from the Reform/Rational Dress Movement and at their core, both movements sought to create more simple utilitarian garments that would give women freedom of movement, free from the restrictions of tight-lacing corsetry and elaborate undergarments such as bustles and the like.
Many Aesthetic Dress styles drew inspiration from the loosely flowing robes characteristic of the late Middle Ages and were based off of the artwork of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an artistic movement that sought a return to the artistic styles of the abundant detail, intense colors and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art . It was almost natural that the influence of the Aesthetic Dress Movement would be reflected in tea gowns such as this example from circa 1897 made by Liberty London:
Liberty of London, Tea Gown c. 1897; Kerry Taylor Auctions
The tea gown consists of two parts, a peach/light orange silk outer dress trimmed in peach/red-orange colored silk with floral pattern embroidery running along the front edges and back collar. On the front, the outer dress mimics an open robe with an inner dress made of an ivory colored linen or cotton material. The outer dress is sleeveless, the inner dress providing the sleeves. Overall, this dress reads late Medieval/early Renaissance and definitely succeeds in capturing that aesthetic.
In this view, one can see a Watteau style back running down the length of the dress. During the late Nineteenth Century, Liberty London positioned itself as the leading supplier of Aesthetic style garments and there are a a number of extant garments from the era. Stay tuned for future postings on this interesting sub-fashion genre of the late Nineteenth Century.
Lately, 1890s have been a major focus for us and especially when it comes to tea gowns. We recently came across this tea gown from circa 1890 (at least according to the auction website) that reflects a Japonisme style:
Tea Gown, c. 1890; Kerry Taylor Auctions
This is an interesting example because the outer dress on the front is a light pink robe that mimics a kimono, opening up to reveal a light cream colored underdress. Also, we note that the sleeves are properly part of the underdress and that the outer dress is sleeveless. Here’s a view of the rear:
The rear presents a more conventional view and gives a princess line appearance. Given the size of the sleeve caps, this tea gown is either from the early or late 1890s. Here’s a close-up of the front:
The underdress is detailed with ruching and a net-like trim that draws the eye up towards the face. Below is a close-up of the embroidered design that runs along the front of the outer dress:
Close-up of the embroidered floral design.
The pattern is very subtle here and tends to blend in with the background of the dress fabric. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information available on this tea dress except to say that it was produced in Japan for the export trade. That’s perfectly possible although it could have just as easily been made in the West. Aesthetically, this is an interesting tea gown because of melding of Japanese and Western elements: from the front, there’s definitely a mock-kimono style while from the rear, it looks like any number of princess line dresses of the time. Stay tuned for more!