Introducing The Camille

Since its introduction, our Camille dress design has been a major hit with our clients and has become one of the mainstays of our day dress line-up. The Camille is based on the Mid-Bustle Era styles that the Impressionist models would wear, primarily characterized by a fitted, narrow tied-back skirt that is swagged, pleated, and ruffled with fullness from the knees down. This style was also made popular by the famous actresses of the time such as Lilly Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt. What also makes this skirt more distinct is the custom bayleuse which is installed in each of our dresses which serve to create the distinct silhouette that characterized the late 1870s/early 1880s.

Camille Dress Elena

The Camille is a solid design that is suitable for a variety of occasions, both indoor and outdoor, and is available in a nearly endless combination of colors and fabrics. Below is one example that we recently made for a client:

Camille Dress Elena
With this dress, we’ve employed a blue color palette with a solid light blue foundation for the basic skirt and bodice sleeves and  combined it with dark blue cuffs and lapels on bodice. Then, just to make things interesting, we also employed a blue plaid fabric for the bodice body and swaged overskirt with pops of yellow. Finally, to complete the effect, we used a shirred white net to cover the upper underskirt.

Here is a three-quarter view of the rear of the dress. The underskirt is covered with shirred white net from the top to mid way down, and then with three rows of pleating from mid way down to the hem.

Camille Dress Elena
Below is a closer look at the hem- three rows of pleating…
Camille Dress Elena
Here are some more views of the dress details:

Camille Dress ElenaCamille Dress Elena

Now let’s take a look at some bodice details:

Camille Dress Elena

The bodice incorporates features reminiscent of 18th Century styles to include an inset of shirred white net framed by dark blue lapels or revers, creating a faux waistcoat appearance. The sleeves are three-quarter length ending in cuffs that match the lapels trimmed with three buttons. To finish it off, each sleeve has inset lace with silk ribbon trim.

Below is a close-up of the sleeve and cuff (before the lace was added). This is a good illustration of the color palette:

Camille Dress Elena

Overall, the effect is an interesting mix of plaid and solid-colored fabrics with a palette that harmonizes. The shirred front overskirt, knife pleats, and folds create an uneven texture that contrasts with the smoothness of the bodice and sleeves. The design was definitely a hit with our client and we look forward to creating more dresses in this style.

Lily Absinthe- It’s All In The Details…

When it comes to the fashions of the late 19th Century, it’s fairly obvious that there’s a lot of detail involved in these creations. In recreating the fashions of this era, the job of getting the details right can be a daunting one but the rewards in the end are priceless. Below are just a few examples from the atelier:

Lily Absinthe

Pleats can be worked with in a variety of ways plus they can stand alone or work as part of a decorative arrangement.

Lily Absinthe

A demi-train (or short train). Ruffles and pleats are some of the key ingredients that make dresses of the era stand out. However, fabric flowers are also used as can be seen below:

Lily Absinthe

Flowers were formed from fabric in various combinations and were often painted and/or gilded for an additional three-dimension effect. It’s couture details like these that puts our designs ahead of the rest. 🙂

Out & About In Tombstone…

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Saturday opened up cool and breezy and since there was little for me to do until the Territorial Days Ball that evening, I decided to take a swing around town. Because this is not a holiday weekend, there were not a lot of tourists in town so getting around was relatively easy. Weather-wise, it was a cool 90 degrees with an occasional breeze which made things even more pleasant.

I stared out in one of my usual favorite places, the OK Corral. The exhibits here have been gradually upgraded and freshened over the past several years, making for a more visually pleasing experience. Of course, I had to first make a beeline for…

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This is a modern reconstruction of CS Fly’s original photo studio and it was located in approximately the same location that the original was. Here’s a little of the interior which serves as an museum:

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A reconstruction of the dark room…and here’s the studio where people posed for their portraits:

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No doubt this plays a little fast and loose with how things were actually arranged but it gives the basic idea. Now for a little fun for the kids…

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Moving on, I headed up Allen Street…

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As you can see, town is a bit quiet today, unlike two weeks ago during Labor Day Weekend. 🙂

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And yes, this is the modern City Hall for the Town of Tombstone. Finally, I made it to where some of the Tombstone Territorial Days festivities were being held (the field is actually part of the old Tombstone High School):

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There were a number of activities going on to include Civil War era cannon firing demonstrations and a presentation called Reel vs. Real put on by Dr. Buck Montgomery and historian Lee Anderson where they discuss the contrast between what is presented in Western films and television versus the historical reality along with some demonstrations of various stunts. What was especially interesting is that working cowboys rarely carried guns on a regular basis and they did not use trick roping- they were practical and had no use for anything that made a job more difficult (when you work some 14 hours a day in the saddle, you’re simply too tired 🙂 ).

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Here we see Lee Anderson explain how something really happened in the West…

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Overall, it was a both educational and entertaining in equal measures and I greatly enjoyed it. Well, that my Saturday day, stay tuned for more. 🙂

 

Outerwear For The 1890s…

ca. 1890’s, [cabinet card, portrait of a woman with a camera] sooo glad we don't have to wear all this any more

L

ately, it seems that outerwear has been on my mind, especially after yesterday’s post. 🙂 Although the weather here in Southern California has been unseasonably warm, it’s post-Labor Day and Fall is coming- I just feel it- and hence my looking forward. In the course of writing my post on 1880s outerwear, I came across some illustrations of the jacket styles that were coming into vogue during the 1890s, especially in view of the trend towards cycling suits and similar practical garments that developed in response to the shifting position of women.

1890s Jacket Styles 1890

Fashion Plate, Winter 1890

Jackets are interesting in that while they’re obviously meant as outerwear against the elements, they also seem to act as a sort of “over-bodice” for dresses and in some fashion illustrations, it’s hard to tell if they jackets or bodices. It’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least. While this style developed during the 1880s, jackets became especially pronounced during the 1890s, being commercially produced in a wide variety of styles as pictured below:

Womens' Jackets 1899 - 1900

Short jackets were especially useful for women engaging in outdoor activities such as cycling as can be seen from these examples:

Cycling Jacket 1898 - 1900

Cycling Jacket, c. 1898-1900; Rrijksmuseum BK-1973-402)

Cycling-1898-Womens-outfits-BE-1

But jackets were not just limited to activewear, but they could also be high-fashion as with this example from the House of Worth:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket, Worth, 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.75)

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Style-wise, jackets reflected the prevailing styles to include in this case, leg-of-mutton sleeves. Here’s are some pictures of the jacket being worn as part of a total outfit:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

And, just to show the range of design/style possibilities, here’s another example from an unknown source:

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket, c. 1890s; North Dakota State University Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection (1986.07.55)

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Rear View

Although a specific date is not given, I would estimate that this jacket was made in the late 1890s, probably 1898-1900. The tailoring is exquisite and the appliques and embroidery are spectacular, if not a bit over-the-top, and style treatment on the front is simply amazing, especially since it creates the illusion that there are is a separate vest and jacket (they’re actually all one unit). It’s too bad that there’s no known picture of this jacket being worn as part of a complete outfit.

The previous two examples are quite elaborate with detail but simpler versions did exist and they would definitely make a perfect addition to almost any 1890s day outfit- it’s something that’s not seen being recreated these days.

 

Outerwear- 1880s Style

A

s a follow-on for yesterday’s post, I got to thinking about women’s outerwear of the late 19th Century and especially in the context of smaller towns, muddy streets, et al. (and especially in the West). In the course of doing an online search for some examples of outerwear, I was struck by the fact that while examples abound of more stylish garments, there are few that are focused on functionality such as those depicted in this picture:

Yankton1 1881 Day Wear Streeet

Yankton, South Dakota, 3d street looking west from Walnut. 1881

However, not all was lost and I did manage to find this interesting example from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Womens Coat c. 1883

Women’s Coat, American, c. 1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982.348.3)

Womens Coat c. 1883

Side Profile

Womens Coat c. 1883

Rear View

This coat is almost very similar to the one worn by the woman in the center front of the picture. Now, just for fun, here’s a more elaborate design by John Redfern:

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Redfern, Women’s Coat, 1888; Chicago History Museum (1987.471.1a-)

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Close-Up

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Three-Quarter Side View

Womens Coat Redfern 1888

Three-Quarter Rear View

This coat design is a women’s version of the Inverness coat/cloak with tailored lines designed to work with the bustled dress style characteristic of the late 1880s. The above is only a small sample but it does give an idea of the sort of outerwear that was found in the 1880s. In future posts, I will be looking for more tie-ins between fashion in action (i.e., being worn) and the garments themselves. Stay tuned! 🙂