An Evening Dress From Maison Worth

Today we feature yet another find from Maison Worth, in this case an evening dress from the mid-1890s from Drouot, a French antique auction website:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. Mid-1890s; Drouot Auction Website

This dress is constructed of a pink silk satin (possibly a duchesse) for both skirt and bodice. The skirt is relatively plain except for the ivory silk chiffon running along the hem. The bodice is another matter, decorated in front with a series of black bead and jeweled appliques on the front and on each sleeve cuff. Running along the bustline and the bodice back is ivory netting with spangles. To complete the design, the sleeves are three-quarter length with what appear to be pink chiffon sleeve extensions with spangles. It’s an interest effect, to say the least.

Looking at the sleeve heads, we would venture that this dress was made sometime in the 1893-1895 time frame- there’s a definite fullness but it’s not as expansive as was characteristic of the large gigot sleeves that developed as a style trend in 1895-1897; but of course, this is only conjecture on our part. Below are two close-ups of the bodice front:

The front applique panels create a very complex design. On close examination, it would appear that the base was composed of the same shade of pink netting as found on the sleeve extensions. And now for two rear views:

And a close-up of the sleeve detail:

The sleeve extensions (they see to be more than just “cuffs” to us) are quite elaborate, combining pink netting, spangles, and metallic fringe at the ends. This was probably not the most practical dinner for dining… Finally, just for completeness, here are two views of the bodice interior:

Note the distinctive petersham with the Worth logo. As with most formal bodices of the period, all the seams are boned and it’s interesting to note that the front has three bones sewn in side-by-side. All the seam edges have been finished by hand and overall, the interior appears fairly tidy.

The evening dress is fascinating in that it’s an example that hasn’t been well-documented since it’s been in private collections as opposed to a museum. We’d certainly be interested to know the provenance of the dress; it would be great to be able to find out more about but we suspect it will always remain somewhat of a question mark. We hope you’ve enjoyed most fascinating design from Maison Worth.



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Antique- Gowns From The Lily Absinthe Collection

Today’s prompt for #FallForCostume hosted by @redthreaded is: “Antique”…I’ve been an antique textile collector all my adult life, it’s nearly impossible to choose what I love best in my museum collection…dresses have souls; or memories that come with them…either way, they exist so we can cherish and share them. First one is my treasured Felix, a beautiful ballgown that came to me with her shoes! Someday, I want to reproduce her, I’ve already (carefully!) taken a pattern.

 

Second, is our cobalt and sapphire Worth ballgown…another one I have plans to reproduce and have already received the commissioned silk, it’s just finding the time.

 



Parisian Color Trends For Fall 1889

Georges Garen, Embrasement de la Tour Eiffel, 1889; Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Color is a major element in fashion styles and, as with style in general, it’s constantly in a state of flux. The situation was no different during the Nineteenth Century and while there was no entity like Pantone to constantly monitor the color trends, they were still noted. In the October 1889 issue of Peterson’s Magazine, it was noted that:

The newest color of the season is a rich deep shade of chaudron-red, which has been christened Eiffel-color, after the famous tower of the Exhibition. It is supposed to be of the same hue as the red-painted iron-work of that stupendous edifice, since its tint has been mellowed and modified by the weather. Green, except in the dark-emerald shade, has gone entirely out of vogue. Yellow, in the warm golden tones, will be a good deal used for trimmings,

Probably the most interesting comment is about “chaudron-red” which is a mash-up of French and English for “cauldron red” (or Eiffel Red) and it describes the original color that the Eiffel Tower was painted when it was first erected for the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The original paint was meant as a protective coating and had a copper-red color because of its active ingredient, iron oxide, which gives the paint its protective quality, preventing rust to the steel that made up the Eiffel Tower’s construction (even to this day, iron oxide paint is used for treating steel beams). So what did this look like? Probably something like this:

Interestingly enough, recently, when it’s time to repaint the Eiffel Tower in 2021, it has been suggested that it be repainted in the original chaudron-red, similar to the shade depicted above. So far, the French Ministry of Culture has not made a decision…

Besides “Eiffel Red,” it’s noted that green is completely out except in a dark emerald shade, perhaps along these lines:

And for yellow something like these:

And now well things together with some examples of the above colors at work, starting with this evening dress from Maison Worth:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.59.20)

James McCreary & Co., Visiting Dress, c. 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail of Cuff

Both of the above dress examples incorporate many of the colors noted in Peterson’s although we must note that there are also plenty of examples where other colors were used; in fashion there’s never any absolutes, just broad generalizations. We hoped you have enjoyed this brief excursion into trending colors of 1889 and stay tuned for more in the future. 🙂