Working with our new camera and so far, the results have been exquisite. 🙂
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:
The sheer expanse of the side panels utilizing the pattern is amazing and it definitely stands out.
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:
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.
hile the the 26th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum was a bit of a disappointment, there were some items in the Museum’s permanent collection that made up for it immensely. One such item was an evening gown designed by Maison Félix, a couture house that was a contemporary of the more well-known houses such as Worth and Doucet:
Below are some more detail pictures:
This dress dates from 1893 and as such, lacks the gigot sleeves that were to come into vogue during the mid 90s. It has a train which is characteristic of formal evening wear but the rigid bustle/train effect of the later 1880s has clearly been discarded. The brown velvet paired with the gold/champagne silk are analogous warm colors and harmonize very nicely. The trim is relatively restrained, limited to the neck and skirt and the gold silk fabric has an embossed pattern that makes for an interesting dull/shiny contrast in the fabric’s luster. Overall, this is a design that reads elegance and restraint as opposed to a making bold statement.
This dress was one of the high points of our visit to the FIDM Museum and we look forward to viewing more from the Maison Félix in the future.