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. 🙂

 

 

Charles Frederick Worth & Early Haute Couture

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Costume College was busy for me this year. Besides delving into the world of Paul Poiret, I also delved into the world of haute couture during the later 19th and early 20th Centuries, an ambitious topic to say the least- one could easily go on for days and barely scratch the surface. 🙂 Fashion  history has always been fascinating and even more so when one makes little discoveries that link the world of the past with today and the research process never fails to disclose tiny nuggets of useful information.

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In many respects, the world of haute couture, as we know it today, got it’s start in Paris largely through the efforts of one man- Charles Frederick Worth. Moreover, he was able to capitalize on a series of trends that had been developing for quite some time. Specifically, going back to reign of Louis XIV, royal patronage driven by the consolidation of the monarchy as the supreme ruling power in France combined with France’s growth as an economic, military, and cultural power served as a catalyst for the development of the textile industry and the needle trades. All the right elements were in place and over the next 300 years a thriving garment began to develop, spurred by patronage both by the Crown and nobility (as they sought to remain in good graces with the King).

charles-frederick-worth-english-fashion-designer-active-in-paris

By the mid-19th Century, industrialization served to further spur the growth of the textile and needle trades (can you say sewing machine?) and the ground was fertile for a man like Charles Worth. Worth transformed a relatively decentralized industry composed of many individual dressmakers working in small establishments into a large-scale industry employing hundreds, if not thousands. Worth consolidated fabric procurement with production (before this, it was customary for clients to bring their own fabrics to the dressmaker). Also, for marketing, he employed the technique of having his clients choose from a series of sample models, modeled by an army of pretty young women; the client would make a selection and a custom garment would be created. The model was intended to give the client an idea of the final product- often, the fabrics and trim would vary to the individual client.

Image result for empress eugenie

What also makes Worth unique is that in 1860 he was able to secure the patronage of the Empress Eugénie and this cemented his reputation; as the center of the French court, the Empress set the styles and naturally everyone of importance wanted to emulate her.

With the demise of the Napoleon III and the Second Empire, Worth was forced to seek expanded markets- no longer did he have a guaranteed client base founded on royal patronage- so he was forced to seek a wider client base. Worth was ultimately successful in this endeavor and by the time he died in 1895, he had clients on all seven continents.

In many ways, the demise of the Empress’s patronage was the best thing for both Worth and haute couture in general in that it pushed couture out to a wider audience and stimulated greater design/style creativity- styles were not determined by the whim of a few people but rather transferred the power to the designers (and ultimately their clients). It also helped couture to reach a wider audience and facilitate the diffusion of fashion.

Worth Ballgown 1898

House of Worth, Ballgown,, 1898; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1324a, b)

 

Of course, Worth wasn’t the only couturier- there were many others. Some of Worth’s leading contemporaries were Jacques Doucet, Emile Pingat, John Redfern, and Jeanne Paquin- all fascinating as designers. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information out there on many of these designers and they’ve become almost forgotten.

Doucet1

Jacques Doucet

John Redfern

John Redfern

Emile  Pingat

An early portrait of Emile Pingat; Courtesy of Jacques Noel

Paquin1

Jeanne Paquin

The above is only a very broad sketch of the topics that I covered in my presentation and I felt that it went pretty well. For the future, I may narrow my focus a bit but nevertheless, it wasn’t bad for a first outing. Stay tuned for more… 🙂

Almost Ready For Costume College…

Isincerely apologize for things being quiet here but I have been in hibernation for the past few weeks furiously working on a series of presentations that I will be giving at Costume College. Why the last minute rush? Well, unfortunately life has a habit of getting in the way and with our relocation and all, time has been at a premium. Costume College is an annual three-day costuming arts convention sponsored by the Costumer’s Guild West and it covers all periods and genres.

Adam 1918

Last year, I gave a presentation on American military uniforms entitled “US Army Uniforms, 1915 – 1918” and I had such a fun time with it that I decided to give an expanded version this year and this is scheduled for Friday July 28. But wait, there’s more…

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On Saturday July 29, I will also be giving presentations on Paul Poiret, entitled “The King of Fashion: The World of Paul Poiret” which will give an overview of his early career. Also, I will be presenting “Haute Couture: The Early Years” where I give an overview on the rise of haute couture during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries (1870 through roughly 1905) both in terms of designers and the various styles.

Stay tuned for more!