The Princess Line Dress- One Interesting Example

One of the most noteworthy features of Mid-Bustle Era (roughly 1876-1881), fashion was the advent of the princess line dress. Attributed to Charles Worth who supposedly created the style for Princess Alexandra’s wedding dress, the princess line style was characterized by the lack of the defined waist created by the conventional bodice/skirt combination as seen in these original photographs:

Portrait Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878 - 1881

Portrait Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878 - 1881

Now, here’s one interesting take on the style:

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

It’s difficult to make out the specific fabrics from the pictures but we assume that it’s silk. The color combination of pale green, chartreuse, brown and cobalt blue is interesting; not our first choice but it’s a bit different from what is normally seen from extant examples.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Side Profile

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Rear View

One of the most interesting features of this dress is the use of a capote; that’s not something we’ve seen utilized with a dress. With its upright mandarin collar and capote, it’s more suggestive of outerwear, along the lines of a redingote. Below are some more pictures:

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Upper Front with capote.

As can be seen from this close-up of the capote, it’s been artfully cut in layers so that there is no interruption to the pattern of the fashion fabric.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Back view with capote.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Close-up of the front.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Dress unbuttoned to show interior detail.

The interior detail shown here is interesting in that it employs the same fashion fabric underneath that’s also the outside on the cuffs, train and back.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

Close-Up of the front.

As can be seen here, what we think is “brown” fabric is actually close brown stripes.

Princess Line Day Dress c. 1878

View of the train.

The train is characteristic of Mid-Bustle Era style, lot and fanning out. Not as extreme as some examples with the “mermaid tail” but the pleating does create a pleasing profile.

Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about the dresse’s provenance or the construction details; all we can do is speculate from the available pictures. In terms of dating, it’s probably safe to say that it falls in the 1878 – 1881 period (although the picture that we obtained indicates 1878). We suspect that these pictures were part of some sort of auction listing although we were unable to find out anything specific. But, in spite of the lack of information, it’s still an interesting example of a style that had a fairly short lifespan. Hopefully, we’ll find out more in the future. 🙂

We Salute You, Charles Worth!

Today was a busy day for us at Costume College. For our class on Charles Worth, we brought two original Worth dresses from our collection: one an evening gown from the late 1880s – early 1890s and a wedding gown from the late 1870s. We’ll be posting more about soon, so in the meantime, we salute you Mr. Worth! 🙂

Karin Costume College

At the hotel bar after the class….

 

The Ensemble Dress, c. 1877

Ensemble dresses were not just present in the 1890s- here’s an example from circa 1877 by Worth:

Worth Reception Dress 1877

Worth, Ensemble Dress, c. 1877 – 1878; Cincinnati Art Museum (1986.1200a-c)

The view above reflects the cuirass bodice style that was coming into vogue during the late 1870s and the lines are well-sculpted and clean with a minimum of trim. This bodice was intended more for wear at daytime functions while the bodice below was meant for evening functions:

Reception gown, Worth, c. 1877-78

With the night bodice.

Here’s a close up of the day bodice. The edges of the bodice front openings and sleeve cuffs are trimmed with the same fabric that the underskirt is made from, combined with lace trim.

Reception gown, Worth, c. 1877-78.

Close-up of the day bodice.

Although we don’t have a side profile picture, it does appear that the silhouette is a bit more slimmed down and with the cuirass bodice, the wouldn’t be much room for a full bustle.  Stay tuned for more on ensemble dresses…