In The UK – Part 2

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After a short break, we decided to head east to Soho and check out a few of the fabric stores that we’d previous planned for. Our first stop was MacCulloch & Wallis. There was a variety of fabrics available mostly focused on cottons and silk, (although there was also a wool section) and while much wasn’t anything we couldn’t obtain here in LA, there were some stand-outs that caught our eye:

London Fabric

There were a number of cotton/silk brocades in a variety of colors as seen above. Here’s a sampling of what we bought:

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Adam London

Checking out the fabrics at MacCulloch & Wallis…

London Cloth House

Our next stop was the Cloth House. Although the store was small (everything is small in London, it seems… 🙂 ), it was packed with some interesting fabrics, primarily cottons and cotton/silk mixes (or so it seemed). We didn’t a lot that was useful but the few things we did find were exquisite but unfortunately, almost none of them were available in enough quantity for a dress length- apparently they stock most of their fabrics in 5 meter increments so if your timing is off, you’re out of luck (although they can restock on some fabrics). Here are a couple of cotton prints we walked away with…can you sense the “Liberty London” vibe here? 🙂

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Next, while we weren’t specifically looking for wool, we walked into Borovick Fabrics on a whim and walked out with this beautiful plaid:

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The nice think about this wool is that it’s a medium weight and it will work for Southern California- normally, there’s simply no real opportunities to wear wool, at least not like in the UK. We bought enough yardage for a complete sack suit and vest… 🙂 And then we decided to take a break at the local Cafe Nero before moving on….

(To be continued….)

In The UK – Part 1

London

After a somewhat uncomfortable 10 1/2-hour flight (that will teach us to ignore the advice on seatguru.com), we made it into Heathrow and were quickly whisked away to our hotel in Kensington. As luck would have it, we arrived at the tail-end of some warm weather with clear skies and zero possibility of rain. 🙂 After some issues with the hotel room (it turns out that there is no air conditioning allowed in historic “listed buildings” above the ground floor, we got everything sorted out and we were ready to hit the town running.

The next morning, we decided to start out somewhat slow by heading over to the V&A Museum for a quick once-over. We were hoping to get into the Frida Kahlo exhibit but you need special tickets to get in and they were all sold out so we contented ourselves touring some of the regular galleries. Unfortunately, most of the better 19th Century costumes are in storage and there’s not a lot on display so it was a bit disappointing though not unexpected (we were hoping that they’d at least rotate a few items).

Although we’ve commented on this before, one of the best stand-outs was this dolman made in 1885 by Pingat:

V&A Museum Dolman Jacket Pingat 1885

Here are a some more views, courtesy of the V&A:

Pingat Dolman 1885

Pingat, Dolman/Jacket; V&A Museum (T.64-1976)

Pingat Dolman 1885

This bodice from 1895 also caught our eye:

V&A Museum Bodice 1895

Unfortunately, getting good pictures are is difficult when the items are behind glass but here are some better views, courtesy of the V&A:

Bodice 1895

Guiquin, L, Bodice, 1895; V&A Museum (T.271&A-1972)

Bodice 1895

Three-Quarter Front View

Bodice 1895

Close-up of upper sleeve.

Although it’s easy to miss because the bodice is behind glass, the silk fabric and trim are very pleasing and especially the silk brocade sleeve treatment. It’s very subtle but adds a depth both in texture and luster. It’s too bad that the skirt is not available for view- it would have made for a beautiful dress- the bodice is only a hint. 🙂

Finally, we end with this fan from Ronot-Tutin that was created c. 1890-1900:

V&A Museum

Stay tuned as we head to Soho for some fabric shopping… 🙂

Now That’s A Wrap!

Living in Southern California and the Southwest in general, it’s easy to get spoiled with all the great weather- warm, sunny, and few or no clouds. Rain is relatively infrequent so it’s usually something we just don’t think about. Well, it hit us that England is quite the opposite and especially when it comes to rain so we had to do a slight re-think about our wardrobe for the Victorian Ball in Bath and that means a cape. 🙂

Karin Atelier Cloak Mantle

What to do? Obviously an evening cloak of some sort but since we’ve never really needed one in the past, it’s not something that I’ve given much thought to so it was time to a little research into evening cloaks…so here’s some of the many examples I found:

Cloak Pingat c. 1888 - 1890

Emile Pingat, Evening Cloak, c. 1888 – 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art

This opera cloak made by Pingat in circa 1882 especially caught my eye- the combination of fur and feathers combined with the floral design decoration ivory silk satin is simply stunning.

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Emile Pingat, Opera Cloak, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Side Profile

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Three-Quarter Rear View

And here’s the cloak worn over a dress:

Emile Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Emile Pingat, Cloak, c. 1879 – 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.6.7)

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Three-Quarter Rear View

Cloak Mantle Pingat c. 1891

Emile Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2007.211.38)

Interestingly enough, In my search, it seemed that the most striking examples were those may by Emile Pingat and after some thought, we decided that a full-length cloak would be the most effective and practical design, especially given that my ball gown is a Mid-Bustle Era design so after going through my collection of original patterns, I came up with one from the early 1890s that I could modify:

Karin Cloak

Angus,  our creative consultant checks out the faux fur, trying to determine what animal it came from…

Karin Cloak

Curved gores follow the shape of the underlying ball gown.

Karin Mantle Cloak

Here’s a good view of the corded floral design.

We’ve used a pale blue silk satin and lined it in ivory silk moire. The cloak is also trimmed in a faux fur (primarily to avoid issues with potential vermin infestation). The cloak is still under construction but we’ll be finished soon and when we are we’ll post some more views here. 🙂

Fashion Push-Back…1890s Style

Today, it’s often said that the fashion industry has way too much influence over dictating what people should wear and that people are far too willing to uncritically follow the dictates of big-name fashion designers. Commentators further advocate that the fashion consumer needs to liberate themselves from the chains created by the fashion industry and be free to follow their own minds as to what’s fashionable and what’s not as they see fit.

The idea of “pushing back” against the dictates of the fashion is actually not a new one as can be seen in this article in the December 19, 1897 edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled “The Triumph of the Crinoline”:

Sometimes, even in fashions, common sense has her own way and every women is chuckling with glee over the defeat of the great Parisians dressmakers dressmakers who wish to do away with crinolines [the term crinoline refers to stiffening the skirt itself rather than wearing an additional appliance]. Two months ago those great and gifted men, Worth, Doucet, Pingot [Pingat] and their ilk, cut a new skirt with with just four straight seams, actually sloped it in at the foot and left the bottom as limp as a wet moldering leaf. Right royally they ordered this to be worn and the secret leaked out that Greek draperies were to be our models for the coming half-dozen years. With one accord the women have flouted, scorned and rejected the new skirt, and until further notice crinoline, hair cloth, or what you please to use as stiffening, will be work to a depth of six inches at every skirt’s foot.

There is no denying, though, that French ruling as to the length of evening costumes is followed everywhere. Great Is the joy among small women over tho arrival of the train, and their stout sisters rejoice with them, for a train makes long lines and equally fervid self-congratulation should stout women express at the marked advance in favor of the black and white gown.

The outrage expressed above is relatively trivial in the scheme of fashion in general but it’s interesting that it sparked push-back. Could this be one of the dresses in question (or just bad staging)?

Worth Ball Gown c. 1896

Worth, Ball Gown, c. 1896; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982.299a, b)

Worth Ball Gown c. 1896

Side Profile

Worth Ball Gown c. 1896

Three-Quarter Rear View

The specific issue raises as many questions as it answers and it bears a little more research just to what the specifics are. But in any case, it still shows that consumers of fashion were not as passive as one would think. 🙂

At The FIDM Museum…

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ne of the most overlooked museums in Los Angeles is the FIDM Museum. Located in Downtown Los Angeles, the FIDM Museum has maintains a small but excellent collection of fashion-related items (well, small when compared to the Met in New York 🙂 ). As noted in a previous post, we recently visited the museum to view the 11th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition. However, there was also an exhibit of historical garments from the Linda and Steven Plochocki Collection on display which, naturally, we had to also see.

On display were a number of examples from various eras to include our favorite, the 19th Century. First, is this stunning wedding dress designed in 1878 by Emile Pingat:

FIDM Pingat

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The upright silhouette is characteristic of the Mid-Bustle Era, and as such, the bustle/tornure is fairly minimal. At the same time, we see a full train outlined with a wide band of ruffled pleating. The dress is made from an ivory/champagne silk; the overskirt is smooth with  little adornment except for a band of ruffled net/silk band trim accented with strings of flowers and orange blossoms (a signature Victorian trim for wedding dresses). The underskirt has vertical pleats which presents a nice contrast to the plain overskirt. The bodice is a deep cuirass bodice with three-quarter sleeves, trimmed in silk ribbons and lace, especially around the neck.

Here’s a few more views:

FIDM Pingat

FIDM Pingat

FIDM Pingat

The orange blossoms and lace trim frame the front opening of the overskirt.

FIDM Pingat

Detail of sleeve treatment of lace and silk ribbon.

FIDM Pingat 1878

Detail of bustle.

FIDM Pingat

Here’s a close-up of the orange blossom trim. Originally utilized by Queen Victoria in her wedding dress in 1840, it rapidly became a fashion trend for wedding dressed throughout the mid to late 19th Century.

FIDM Pingat

 

The trim running along the skirt hem and the edges of the train is actually a netting that’s trimmed with silk tape on one edge. The wedding dress is a stunning example of Pingat’s work and it bears further study.

Next, is a bodice from c. 1898 designed by Jacques Doucet:

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

This bodice contains the signature elements characteristic of Doucet’s designs- rich old gold silk fabric trimmed with lace and lace appliques, some incorporating metallic gold thread. From a silhouette perspective, the leg-of-mutton sleeves are restrained, characteristic of late 1890s styles. The bodice is shaped like a jacket, reminiscent of 18th Century styles with a shirred gauze waist with a silk satin wide belt. Overall, it’s a rich, powerful style. It’s a pity that the skirt has not survived- the total package was no doubt a complete knock-out.

Well, that’s all for today. We hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as we did going to the FIDM Museum. 🙂