At The FIDM Museum…

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ne of the most overlooked museums in Los Angeles is the FIDM Museum. Located in Downtown Los Angeles, the FIDM Museum has maintains a small but excellent collection of fashion-related items (well, small when compared to the Met in New York 🙂 ). As noted in a previous post, we recently visited the museum to view the 11th Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibition. However, there was also an exhibit of historical garments from the Linda and Steven Plochocki Collection on display which, naturally, we had to also see.

On display were a number of examples from various eras to include our favorite, the 19th Century. First, is this stunning wedding dress designed in 1878 by Emile Pingat:

FIDM Pingat

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The upright silhouette is characteristic of the Mid-Bustle Era, and as such, the bustle/tornure is fairly minimal. At the same time, we see a full train outlined with a wide band of ruffled pleating. The dress is made from an ivory/champagne silk; the overskirt is smooth with  little adornment except for a band of ruffled net/silk band trim accented with strings of flowers and orange blossoms (a signature Victorian trim for wedding dresses). The underskirt has vertical pleats which presents a nice contrast to the plain overskirt. The bodice is a deep cuirass bodice with three-quarter sleeves, trimmed in silk ribbons and lace, especially around the neck.

Here’s a few more views:

FIDM Pingat

FIDM Pingat

FIDM Pingat

The orange blossoms and lace trim frame the front opening of the overskirt.

FIDM Pingat

Detail of sleeve treatment of lace and silk ribbon.

FIDM Pingat 1878

Detail of bustle.

FIDM Pingat

Here’s a close-up of the orange blossom trim. Originally utilized by Queen Victoria in her wedding dress in 1840, it rapidly became a fashion trend for wedding dressed throughout the mid to late 19th Century.

FIDM Pingat

 

The trim running along the skirt hem and the edges of the train is actually a netting that’s trimmed with silk tape on one edge. The wedding dress is a stunning example of Pingat’s work and it bears further study.

Next, is a bodice from c. 1898 designed by Jacques Doucet:

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

FIDM Doucet

This bodice contains the signature elements characteristic of Doucet’s designs- rich old gold silk fabric trimmed with lace and lace appliques, some incorporating metallic gold thread. From a silhouette perspective, the leg-of-mutton sleeves are restrained, characteristic of late 1890s styles. The bodice is shaped like a jacket, reminiscent of 18th Century styles with a shirred gauze waist with a silk satin wide belt. Overall, it’s a rich, powerful style. It’s a pity that the skirt has not survived- the total package was no doubt a complete knock-out.

Well, that’s all for today. We hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as we did going to the FIDM Museum. 🙂

 

 

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. 🙂

1890s Designs- Doucet

While the House of Worth was the leading fashion house during the late 19th Century (and 1890s in particular), it was by no means the only fashion house- there was also Doucet, Pingat, and Paquin, just to name a few, and each was in constant competition with each other. In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look some of Worth’s competitors and illustrate their “take” on 1890s style.

Doucet Ballgown c. 1898 - 1902

Jacques Doucet was one of Worth’s leading competitors and like Worth, he utilized a number of marketing techniques that are now standard in the fashion industry to include dressing celebrities (and especially actresses). Doucet’s creations tended to have a softer silhouette, utilizing large quantities of lace, tulle, and chiffon as well as metallics and lame.

Doucet Ballgown 1898 - 1900

Doucet, Ballgown, 1898 – 1900; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.3275a–c)

Doucet Ballgown 1898 - 1900

Three-Quarter Front View

The above ballgown, made sometime between 1898 and 1900, is made from what appears to be a silk chiffon backed by layers of lame. Unfortunately there are no close-up pictures available- it would be very interesting to have a close look at the fabric. With the exception of some tulle at the top of the bodice and leaf garlands on the shoulders, there is no trim and the dress relies on the richness of the materials themselves.

However, Doucet’s designs were not always so “simple”. Here we see one of Doucet’s more iconic work, a ballgown made sometime in the 1898 – 1902 time frame:

Doucet Ballgown c. 1898 - 1902

Doucet, Ballgown, c. 1898 – 1902; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.3274a, b)

Doucet Ballgown c. 1898 - 1902

Side Profile

Doucet Ballgown c. 1898 - 1902

Rear View

Here once again we see the fabric itself as the central focus of the dress style only this time there is an elaborate floral pattern created by leaves and foliage appliques on a gold lame background backed by what appears to be a silk chiffon underlayer. The upper bodice and sleeves are lace the overall effect is of shimmering gold.

So what about day wear? Here’s one example:

Day Dress Doucet c. 1890

Doucet, Day Dress, c. 1890; Kyoto Costume Institute (AC10445 2001-4AC)

The fashion fabric for this dress is a silk crêpe de chine with a stencil print pattern of bamboo stalks and the sparrow motif has been hand-painted separately. The fabric was most likely made in Japan for the export market and is an excellent example of the Japonisme theme that was often utilized by fashion designers during the 1880s and 90s. One again trim is minimal, limited to the hem, sleeves and collar finished off with a silk chiffon fichu.

However, designers could also works against type as with this ballgown that Doucet made sometime around 1890:

Doucet Ballgown c. 1890s

Doucet, Ballgown, c. 1890; Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina (1998.13A-B)

Doucet Ballgown c. 1890sDoucet Ballgown c. 1890s

Doucet Ballgown c. 1890s

Close-Up of Bodice

Doucet Ballgown c. 1890s

Rear View

The use of black and white stripes, artfully cut and blended together (especially on the bodice) reads “modern”, something we would expect to see from the 1950s. The black and white chevrons on the skirt front are especially bold and they immediately draw the eye. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information about this dress (at least from what I could tell from the museum website) and it raised some interesting questions in regard to provenance- it reads so differently than the majority of Doucet’s work that we almost wonder if this is a dress that’s been mislabeled- it certainly bears further study.

Although we can see two different approaches to design by Worth and Doucet (with a bit of overlap), it’s evident that there was an increased emphasis on making using the dress itself as a canvas for creating the design’s major effect. By this time, the use of trim is completely secondary and does little to distract the eye from the main attraction of the fabric design and this can be especially seen with Doucet’s two very different ballgown designs.

We hope you have enjoyed this post and stay tuned for yet more…. 🙂

At The Ball…

Iwas finally able to finish and show off our new “Anastasia” gown model and Adam wore his new custom set of formal tails at the Social Daunce Irregulars 2017 Holiday Grand Ball. A lovely time was spent visiting with friends, then we snuck home early to enjoy a late night supper- a lovely evening! 🙂

Here are a few pictures from the evening. First, we start with the obligatory “selfie”… 🙂

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And now the two of us…

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And another close-up of me and the Anastasia dress:

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And Adam:

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