Newly Arrived! The Piña Cloth Day Dress

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

We’ve been making a major push to expand our collection of original dresses and gowns and after attending a recent auction, we’re are especially pleased to announce the acquisition of a circa 1880 day dress made from a combination of silk and piña cloth. What is especially exciting is that this particular dress used to be part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has now been de-accessioned. Many of you will probably recognize this dress- it’s all over Pinterest and we even wrote a post about it back in early 2016.

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

This card came with the dress and has the accession number.

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

The Label

We haven’t been able to conduct an exhaustive examination of the dress but here are a few observations:

First in terms of style, this is a princess line dress with a small train so it’s consistent with the circa 1880 attribution. The construction is quite complex and the upper part is boned and shaped so as to be worn over a corset. Finally, running down the front of the dress is wide panel of ruched turquoise silk satin.

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Interior of the bodice

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

The upper outside back bodice

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Next, the fashion fabric appears to be a combination of white piña cloth with an ivory silk under layer, that is slightly rough to the touch. The piña cloth is very filmy yet firm- think a heavyweight silk organza. Running through the piña cloth are turquoise blue silk satin ribbon stripes; they appear to have been woven into the piña cloth itself. Finally, the dress interior is lined with a fine white cotton with a coarser cotton muslin running along the inside of the hem, acting as a guard.

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Part of the interior hemline

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

The outer hem

Finally, here are some shots of the entire dress that were taken by the seller:

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

Pina Cloth Day Dress Princess Line c. 1880

We are very pleased with this dress and we’re already making plans for a few designs inspired by it. Stay tuned for more!

1877: A New Trend In Tournures…

The fashion press can be a useful source for documenting fashion transitions and changes in styles although the search can sometime resemble searching for a needle in a haystack. However, one can find some interesting nuggets of information and especially in documenting the transition from the First Bustle Era to the Mid-Bustle (aka “natural form”) Era. Below is an interesting item that appeared in the August 1877 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:

We also give the latest novelty in Parisian tournure. It is made of muslin, the top laid in a deep double box-plait, perfectly tight-fitting, to which is added two flounces, very full and stiffly starched. This is simply to keep the train out at the bottom. No tournure is worn near the waist, perfect flatness is the present prevailing style.

Tournure_Aug 1877 Petersons Magazine

From the August 1877 issue of Peterson’s Magazine.

While not particularly earth-shattering in terms of the evolution of Bustle Era fashions, it does help to roughly date when a new trend began to emerge. Stay tuned for more! 🙂

 

 

 

Florals For The Spring & Summer…

Floral design motifs were a major element in dress styles throughout the late Nineteenth Century and especially during the 1880s and 1890s and came in many forms and were utilized both in the fashion fabric and trim to varying degrees. Here’s one interesting example from circa 1889 that was made by Maison Felix:

Day Dress c. 1889 Felix

Felix, Day Dress, c. 1889; Albany Museum of History and Art (u1973.69ab)

Day Dress c. 1889 Felix

Side Profile

The sheer expanse of the side panels utilizing the pattern is amazing and it definitely stands out.

Day Dress c. 1889 Felix

Close-up of  the fashion fabric.

Looking closely at the pictures, it appears that the fabric was most likely a silk brocade.

Style-wise, this dress is simple, sharply defined lines characteristic of the late 1880s and employs a pale green background fabric for the bodice back and sleeves as well as the front and back skirt that offsets the areas with the floral brocade with its various shades of green. The pleating and folds are used to create the effect of an overdress/robe but if you look closer, it’s actually one unit; the bodice and skirt appear to be joined at the waist but whether this is simply hooks and eyes or stitching, it’s hard to tell without a closer examination in person (Hmm..maybe a trip to Albany, New York is in order…). Finally, the total effect is enhanced by the lack of any extraneous trim- the fabric speaks for itself.

Below are a few fashion that show different uses of florals:

 Just for comparison, here’s another dress from the same year thereabouts:

Visiting Dress c. 1889

James McCreary & Co., Visiting Dress, c. 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Visiting Dress c. 1889

Side Profile

Visiting Dress c. 1889

Detail of Cuff

This dress has a more elaborate construction in that we see the use of a rich silk brocade executed in several different colors set against a dark brown brown shades of velvet and silk, creating a multi-tonal color pattern. Also, the luster qualities vary between the fabrics with the silks having far more luster from reflected light versus the silk velvet which tends to absorb light. The above examples give only a small glimpse of the variety of design possibilities and we hope that they might provide some inspiration for people recreating historic fashions.

Monday In LA…

We were greeted this morning by a visit from one of the local coyotes who decided to see what we’ve been up to. We’ve been a bit silent here as we make some improvements in the layout of the atelier and catch up on some long-overdue garden work. But never fear, we’ll be back so stay tuned! Hmmm…coyotes are not what we would consider to be connoisseurs of couture but one never knows… 🙂

Coyote1

Bridesmaid Dresses…

Bridesmaid dresses have been a staple of weddings for over 100 years and even today are a fixture for most weddings. For the typical wedding involving two or more bridesmaids, it is standard for the bridesmaids to be wearing dresses of a uniform style and color, thereby providing a canvas for the the bride to show brightly (after all, it is HER day… 🙂 ). However, the bridesmaid dress is often of a style that pleases nobody and in recent years there’s been a lot of resistance to the idea to the point where they’re being dispensed with for some.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th Centuries, wedding customs evevolved and by the early 1900s, the typical wedding that we know today had taken form to include the distinct bridesmaid dress. Here are some examples:

Wedding Party c. 1900

Judging from the dress and hat styles, this was probably taken sometime around 1910 or so and what’s striking about it is that the bridesmaid dresses s are fairly uniform. While they appear to be of one style and made from the same material, there are variations in the trim on each woman’s skirt.

And here’s a few more from roughly the same time:

Victorian wedding group by lovedaylemon, via Flickr

In this picture, the bride is almost indistinguishable from the bridesmaids except for the hat.

It’s an interesting to see that uniform bridesmaid dresses were a thing a hundred years ago. In future posts, we’ll look a little further back so stay tuned! 🙂