The Tissot Shipboard Dress

Karin Tissot

Lately, James Tissot has been a major source of inspiration for some of my designs. Check out the brunette. Pretty curves, cotton batiste gown is weighed down with a hem of pleats, ruffles, ruches, and two huge silk sash bows in the back. When I realized I had an original bonnet like hers…well, you get the picture. 🙂 Below are a few pictures of my take on the Tissot shipboard dress:

Karin

Bonnet is original, complete with cobalt silk ribbons and silver medallions

Karin

Gown is completely hand finished, except for construction seams. It’s weightless, my corset is heavier than the gown!

Karin

So I forgot to prune…

Karin

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That’s just a brief overview of  the dress. I’ll be posting more in the near future. 🙂

1890s Style – More Than Just Gigot Sleeves And Wasp Waists

Fashion-wise, the 1890s have always been a source of fascination for us and one that we’ve been focusing on intensely in recent posts. While this may seem somewhat excessive, we would argue the contrary in that 90s are one of the most misunderstood periods for fashion. In the popular mind, 1890s styles seem to be nothing more than a never-ending parade of women in with excessively large Gigot, or leg-of-mutton sleeves and wasp-waists created by tight-laced corsets. It’s an era of excess with lots of “stuff” going on and for many it’s a major turn-off, especially compared to the liberating styles that were to be developed in the 1910s and 20s by Poiret, Chanel, Vionnet, and others.

However, we would argue that the 1890s marked the beginnings of major fashion shifts that were to come to full flower in the following decades and it’s evident in day wear. During the 90s, we seen the introduction of more functional day wear styles that reflected women’s shifting roles in society and especially in going to work outside of the home and participating in outdoor activities such as bicycling. Also, in terms of design we see a simplification of dress styles that relied less on trim and excess yardage (especially compared to the 1870s and 80s) and more on the decorative effect of the existing fashion fabric.

Naturally, as with all of fashion there were exceptions to every rule and many styles of the 90s retained elements of previous ones but we’re painting with a broad brush here. With that said, let’s proceed…


Today we take a look at one unique example of 90s style:

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Day Dress, c. 1894 -1896; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1979.346.25a–c)

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Front View

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Rear View

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Close-Up Of Collar

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Close-Up Of Sleeve

This dress ensemble was an ensemble made for  James McCreery & Co. (1867 – 1954), a major New York dry goods retailer that was active during the late 19th Century. The dress has the silhouette typical of mid-1890s styles to include the gigot sleeves and cinched wasp waist. The purple fashion fabric is a wool combined with black silk velvet for the sleeves. The same velvet is also used as trim along the skirt hem and stripes along the bodice front and back. Also, depending on how you view it, the sleeves are trimmed with stripes of the purple wool fabric. Finally, note must be made of the striped black and white waist that’s visible under the upper bodice and at the sleeve cuffs- this is probably a faux waist that’s part of the overall dress.

However, what is most notable about this design is that the front bodice is cut asymmetrically, a feature that’s emphasized by the black and white trim panels running along the front bodice edges. The bold front bodice treatment balances out the black gigot sleeves, serving to create a style that’s both balanced and bold. Interestingly enough, the Metropolitan Museum of Art website terms this as a half-morning dress but to us, that really just doesn’t seem to be the case but that’s just our opinion.

But wait, there’s more! Although there’s no information from the Met website, it appears that this was an ensemble that also came with a black velvet jacket and separate waist:

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

Day Dress c. 1894 -1896

 There isn’t a good picture of the waist but it appears to be made of a white silk with gold embroidery and this is also carried over into the wide collar seen on the jacket. As with the bodice, the jacket is cut asymmetrically at the top. Compared to the bodice in the first set of pictures, the look is definitely more restrained and almost unexceptional. Perhaps that’s where the “mourning” aspect comes in but we seriously question that. 🙂

The above dress is an interesting example of one of the better dress designs to come out of the mid-1890s and especially since it did not directly come out of the Paris couture house (although they did license designs for the American market) with a specific designer name. We would certainly love to know more about the design and how it got its initial inspiration but we fear that this information is probably lost to the ages. We hope you’ve enjoyed this little excursion into the 1890s- in future posts we’ll be bringing more 1890s dress designs to light. 🙂

Looking Back…

I‘ve been going through the photo archive and came across a couple of pictures that were taken of me at an event at Old Tucson Studios. Here I am wearing an early 1880s day dress made of antique (pre-WW1 era)  plum/wine-colored silk matte brocade for the bodice and overskirt, and the skirt is a dyed to match silk faille trimmed with burgundy silk velvet, thrown in the dye batch to coordinate. The chapeau is an original 1880 (and rare) “flowerpot” hat, complete with original milliner’s tag on the inside, the sterling sash pin is from the time period as well.

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And in this picture, I’m sneaking out to Chinatown…

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Adam and I hamming it up for the camera…

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It was cold the day we were there and it even hailed- but all the better excuse to be able to wear my winter clothes. 🙂

More Worth 1890s Style…

To continue the theme of yesterday’s post, we present some more examples from the House of Worth as it relates to 1890s style and using of the whole dress silhouette as a canvas for the fabric pattern with a minimum of extraneous trim. We begin with an afternoon dress made in 1896:

Worth Afternoon Dress 1896

Afternoon Dress, Worth, 1896; Museum of the City of New York (49.125.1A-B)

Worth Afternoon Dress 1896

Worth Afternoon Dress 1896

Close-Up Of Back Bodice

Worth Afternoon Dress 1896

Side Profile

Worth Afternoon Dress 1896

Once again, we see the entire dress as a canvas for silk floral brocade pattern fashion fabric along with an inset faux waist in the front. Compared to most Mid-1890s dresses, the sleeves are somewhat restrained and we don’t see much of the characteristic gigot sleeve effect (although this may be due to the staging of the dress in the museum display).

Below is one more example, in this case a dinner dress made someone between 1890 to 1895. Here we see the characteristic open bodice, lined on both sides with shirred tulle and sleeves cut close to the arm. The lapels and sleeve cuffs are trimmed with beading and the same shirred tulle as on the front of the bodice. Overall, the trim is fairly minimal and acts as a counterpoint for the main decorative effect- the floral pattern on the skirt. The flowers themselves are large and they trace their way up the skirt at several points. Visually, the skirt comprises the largest area and as such, provides the perfect canvas for display.

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House of Worth, Dinner Dress, c. 1890 – 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (31.37a-b)

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Rear View

The above two dresses are just a few of the many examples of using the skirt as a canvas for decoration and while this style was fairly common, it was by no means the only style during the 1890s nor was it exclusively used by Worth. In the future, we’ll be featuring more from the House of Worth from the 1890s as well as works from some of its competitors. Enjoy!