Gustave Beer was a successful Parisian couturier who operated during the later 19th and early 20th Centuries. Although not a lot is known about him, it is known that he was born in Germany sometime in 1855 and was residing in Paris by 1876. Originally established in the artificial flower business, he branched out into clothing, first establishing a lingerie shop in in 1886 and later expanding into a complete couture establishment by 1893. Although Beer himself died sometime between 1910 to 1915, Maison Beer continued in operation until 1930 when it merged with Maison Drecoll. Beer was noted for a middle-of-the road style with an emphasis on “classical elegance” that attracted a conservative clientele. Below are a few examples of Beer’s designs, starting with this circa 1898 ballgown:
Gustave Beer, Ball Gown, c. 1898; Whittaker Auctions
The staging of this dress is not at its best but one can see the classic late 1890s silhouette, especially with the skirt and train. Construction is an ivory-colored silk satin with minimal chiffon trim around the neck and shoulders. The entire dress is decorated with crystals and metallic spangles arranged in a floral motif pattern which is shown to its best advantage on the skirt and bodice. It could be said that the bodice and skirt are just a canvas for the floral design-work. Below are some detail pictures of the design:
Close-uo of bodice.
Close-up of hem.
Close-up of decorative motif.
Next, we have a circa 1905 evening dress:
Gustave Beer, Evening Dress, 1905; The Frick, Pittsburgh (1985.523)
This garment reads as the evening version of a lingerie dress and is constructed from ivory-colored silk chiffon with an ivory-colored silk satin underlayer and is decorated with a gold metallic floral motif both on the bodice and the skirt. The bodice is styled so it resembles the waist/jacket combination that was popular at this time and emphasizes the silhouette created by the S-bend corset. The metallic trim pattern on the skirt is artfully arranged so as to mimic vines climbing up a tree. The front of skirt opens up to reveal a chiffon underskirt, framed by the metallic decorative motif running up the edges of the open overskirt. This dress is definitely in keeping with Beer’s emphasis on classical elegance and it’s too bad that there are no close-up pictures of the metallic decorative design.
To carry the lingerie dress style further, we conclude with this afternoon dress:
Gustave Beer, Afternoon Dress, c. 1900; Drexel University Historic Costume Collection
This dress is constructed black lace and chiffon over a green-colored silk velvet underlayer and represents a highly refined take on the lingerie dress idea. What’s interesting here is that the lace panels are not only arranged in circular rows, but the middle ones criss-cross as they move about the dress. On the bodice, we also see the lace panels shaped so that they form a large eye. The arrangement of the lace panels definitely sets this dress apart from many of its peers. We hope you’ve enjoyed this little excursion through the dress designs of Maison Beer and we hope to be able to have more to show in the future.
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 Gustave Beer circa 1912 – 1913:
Gustave Beer, Evening Gown, c. 1912 -1913; FIDM Museum
The gown is constructed from a gold silk charmeuse combined with a jeweled applique floral pattern. The silhouette is the loose Classic Grecian inspired nouveau directoire style with empire waist. In contrast to the tightly sculpted structural styles of the 1890s and early 1900s styles, this dress was draped, relying only on the garment itself to create its lines. While corsets are still utilized for foundation wear in 1912-13, it was now submerged, masked by the flowing lines of the dress. Here are some more views:
Three-Quarter Front Profile
Close-Up Three-Quarter Front Profile
Here we get a better look at the decoration and trim. Jeweled netting sweeps over the dress from the waist down, serving to emphasize the decorative pattern on the dress front.
This somewhat blurred picture (unfortunately, other visitors kept getting in the way) give a side view of the dress, emphasizing the slender, cylindrical silhouette of the dress while at the same time showing off the train.
The train itself is magnificent and it’s a piece of art in itself, serving as a canvas for an elaborate jeweled/embroidered floral pattern. The outside border is especially striking and very reminiscent of classical design motifs. This dress was a definite bright spot in our day! 🙂
When people think of fashion, they think of France and Paris in particular. However, while Pars may have reigned as the fashion center of the Western world during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the designers themselves were not necessarily French. Of these designers, Charles Worth is probably the most well-known of these non-French designers and his influence on fashion was undeniable.
One “foreign” designer who is not so well-known was Gustave Beer. Gustave (or Gustav, spellings vary) Beer was born in Germany about 1875 and first established himself as a designer in Vienna. Later, he relocated to Paris where he opened a fashion house in 1905. Beer’s approach tended to be conservative, emphasizing exquisite construction and fine materials over daring designs.
Below are just a few examples:
Opera Cape, c. 1895 – 1905
Day Dress, c. 1904 – 1905; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1999.135a–e)
Some more views.
Moving a bit later:
Evening Dress, c. 1905
And the evening gown as it was worn…
And a few detail pictures:
Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to this dress and there’s serious deterioration, especially in the interior:
Below is an ensemble c. 1905 consisting of skirt and two bodices allowing a quick change from day to evening dress:
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot out there about Beer but from what I’ve gathered, his fashion house continued until 1929 when it merged with the House of Drecoll to exist as Drecoll-Beer. Subsequently, Drecoll-Beer merged with the House of Agnes in 1931 and the Beer name was dropped.
We’ll be doing some more on Beer in the future as we unearth further information. 🙂