Back To The Rancho- Lily Absinthe Goes Picnicking

Well, this is from over a month ago and it’s only now that I’m posting this…yes, life got in the way but I figure that better late than never! Picnicking in period dress has always been a favorite pastime for us (and it provides an excuse to wear our period fashions) and provides a nice break from the fast pace of the modern world. As many of you no doubt know, 2017 has been a year of tremendous change for us and it’s easy to lose sight of what we truly like to do. So anyway, here’s just a little recap from our latest excursion to Rancho Camulos. Enjoy!


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This past Sunday, we decided to take a break and go to a picnic at our favorite spot-Rancho Camulos in Piru, California, one of the last surviving examples of a Californio rancho. The theme, of course, was Victorian and it gave us a wonderful opportunity to relax in period attire in an historic location. Established by Ygnacio Del Valle in 1853, Rancho Camulos was once part of a 48,000 acre Mexican land grant deeded to Ygnacio’s father Antonio Del Valle in 1839. Also, most notably, Rancho Camulos is also the purported setting for Helen Jackson Hunt’s famous book Ramona.

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We also decided to take the occasion to model one of our newest designs, a simple picnic dress constructed in a light cotton sheer in a pale turquoise blue:

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And of course, we took the opportunity to relax…

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The weather was perfect and it was easy to lose all sense of time, relaxing in the cool ocean breezes underneath shady trees. The time was all too short. 🙂

And For Some More Japonisme To Brighten Your Day…

Recently, we came across this striking example of a day dress, circa 1876, influenced by Japonisme. Starting with the opening of Japan to the West in the 1860s, Western fashion and specifically, female fashion, saw the use of imported Japanese textiles as well as incorporating various Japanese-inspired decorative motifs in domestic-produced textiles of which Liberty of London was one of the leading producers. However, at the same time, Japan was also adapting to Western fashion although it was on a more limited scale.

Here are a few views of the dress:

Day Dress c. 1876

Day Dress, American, made by Martha J. De La Mater, c. 1876; The Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY (N0129.1966)

Day Dress c. 1876

Close-Up Of Bodice

This basic fashion fabric is made from a brown/copper silk combined with a silk brocade patterned with chrysanthemums- a fairly common Japanese motif. The trim is minimal except for metallic gold beading running along the front waist and edges of the overskirt. In terms of style, the pseudo-waist sash and knotted front overskirt combined with the pleated front bodice are suggestive of a kimono. At the same time, mandarin collar gives the front bodice a clean, crisp finish that doesn’t distract from the rest of the dress- no excess lace, netting or trim.

Here are a few more views:

Day Dress c. 1876

Side Profile – Close-Up

Day Dress c. 1876

Side Profile – Full View

Day Dress c. 1876

Three-Quarters Frontal View

Day Dress c. 1876

The Maker’s Label – Martha J. De La Mater

This dress was made by a Martha De La Mater who was one of several dressmakers working in Albany and she’s is listed in the 1889 edition of the Albany City Directory. Also, the dress was made for a one Lucy Clark.

We hope you’ve liked this little foray back into the world of Japonisme– as we find more interesting examples, we’ll be posting them here for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

Introducing The Camille

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce another version of our newest and most exciting dress designs, the Camille. Inspired by the Aesthetic Movement, Impressionism, and a touch of Japonisme, we attempted to combine shades of green and chartreuse along with floral motifs to create a dress evocative of spring. Here are just a few views:

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The Camille is based on the Mid-Bustle Era styles that the Impressionist models would wear, primarily characterized by a fitted, narrow tied-back skirt that is swagged, pleated, and ruffled with fullness from the knees down. This style was also made popular by the famous actresses of the time such as Lilly Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt. What also makes this skirt more distinct is the custom bayleuse which is installed in each of our dresses which serve to create the distinct silhouette that characterized the late 1870s/early 1880s.

Lily Absinthe Goes Picnicing…

Today we decided to take the day off and go to a picnic…but not just any kind of picnic but a Victorian-themed one. 🙂 The picnic was held at Rancho Camulos, one of hte last surviving examples of a Californio rancho and it’s a wonderful location. Established by Ygnacio Del Valle in 1853, Rancho Camulos was once part of a 48,000 acre Mexican land grant deeded to Ygnacio’s father Antonio Del Valle in 1839. Also, most notably, Rancho Camulos is also the purported setting for Helen Jackson Hunt’s famous book Ramona.

Below are some pictures from the day’s festivities:

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The two of us with a friend.

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The two of us- somehow I managed to squint during this picture. Go figure.

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Me striking a pose in the grape arbor.

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Karin posing in a version of our new Camille dress design.

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And another of me in the grape arbor.

The weather was perfect and it was easy to lose all sense of time, relaxing in the cool ocean breezes underneath shady trees. The time was all too short. 🙂