Painted Silk…

One of the more interesting methods of embellishing skirts during the late 19th Century was the use of hand-painting floral decorate motifs primarily on silk. Although not as common as other methods such as taking on silk flowers or using fabrics with various types of woven-in patterns and motifs, painted silk did offer a somewhat easier, more inexpensive method of of creating decorative embellishment. Below is nice example from  the Fashion History Museum of Ontario of a mid to late 1880s day dress (it’s hard to tell from the staging):

Day Dress, c. 1880s; Fashion History Museum Ontario

It’s difficult to tell an exact date for the dress since there was no information on the museum website but judging from the silhouette, such as it us, it appears to be mid to late 1880s . The bodice and skirts are constructed from a pale blue silk satin which provides the perfect “canvas” for the detailed floral motifs which we see on both the bodice and the overskirt. The floral motifs provide an interesting range of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds all set against a cool blue background that’s reminiscent of water. Definitely just the thing for Spring. 🙂

Somewhat more restrained, here’s a wedding dress, from 1888:

Wedding/Day Dress, 1888; Ohio State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection (HCT.1999.19.1a-d)

This dress bodice and skirts are constructed from an ivory wool with silk side panels and lace covers the front underskirt. Visually, the eye is first attracted to the two panels with the painted floral motifs and then drawn upward to the silk plastron on the bodice. Here are some close-ups of the painted floral motifs:

The use of painted flower motifs on silk is an interesting, subset of decorative effects that were used on fashions of the late 19th Century and it bears further study and hopefully we’ll unearth some more examples for your consideration in the near future.