Looking Back…Clockwork Alchemy

Karin_Thena1

Going through some older pictures, I came across this one from our 2016 trip to the Clockwork Alchemy Convention. I designed these two dresses for our entry in the fashion show. The evening dress on the left is our latest design, the “Lucy”, named after Lucy Westenra, the ill-fated companion of Mina Harker in Bram Stoker’s book Dracula and the subsequent Dracula movies. The dress on the right, the “Camille” is a lavender day dress in shades of lavender with amethyst accents. Both dresses are executed in the Mid-Bustle Era style (late 1870s/early 1880s) and represent some our most recent creations. While there were some challenges making these designs work for the parameters of the fashion show, I was very pleased with the result and I look forward to returning to Clockwork in 2019. 🙂

 

 

Now That’s a Wrap!

Living in Southern California, there is rarely a need for cloaks and mantles so it’s something that we’ve never really considered until you have to… 🙂

Karin Cloak


Oh, those Victorians! They sure knew how to make an entrance! Last night I finished an evening cloak for my new ballgown for our London/Bath trip. Rain in a silk satin dress? No problem…I will be fine from hotel taxi to the ball. 🙂

Karin Cloak

Karin Cloak

So what inspired my design? Well, there are many sources of which these are just a few… 🙂

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Emile Pingat, Opera Cloak, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

 

Mantle Worth Outerwear Late 1890s

Worth, Evening Mantle, c. Late 1890s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.51.69.2)

Dolman Mantle Late 19th Century

Dolman/Mantle, Late 19th Century; Augusta Auctions (32.14685.160.71)

As for construction, Basically, I started with an original period pattern dating from 1891 and modified accordingly. The most important thing was that I needed this to fit over a sloping ballgown bustle, so I flared the side piece and the center back piece from the hip down for room, otherwise it will only work for the 1890s and up. The armscye I also cut wider, only so a puffy ballgown sleeve could reach through without a struggle, otherwise that required no fussing. I skipped the collar (because I own the shortest neck in the world) and opted to face a shallow v-neckline. The drapey sleeves required a little Origami technique to figure out but they’re simpler than they look. I also strongly recommend lining this garment. Finally, I also added drapery weights for swing.

That’s it pretty much in a nutshell. I’ll be posting some pictures of the cloak in action very soon so stay tuned!

 

 

Now That’s A Wrap!

Living in Southern California and the Southwest in general, it’s easy to get spoiled with all the great weather- warm, sunny, and few or no clouds. Rain is relatively infrequent so it’s usually something we just don’t think about. Well, it hit us that England is quite the opposite and especially when it comes to rain so we had to do a slight re-think about our wardrobe for the Victorian Ball in Bath and that means a cape. 🙂

Karin Atelier Cloak Mantle

What to do? Obviously an evening cloak of some sort but since we’ve never really needed one in the past, it’s not something that I’ve given much thought to so it was time to a little research into evening cloaks…so here’s some of the many examples I found:

Cloak Pingat c. 1888 - 1890

Emile Pingat, Evening Cloak, c. 1888 – 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art

This opera cloak made by Pingat in circa 1882 especially caught my eye- the combination of fur and feathers combined with the floral design decoration ivory silk satin is simply stunning.

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Emile Pingat, Opera Cloak, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Side Profile

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Three-Quarter Rear View

And here’s the cloak worn over a dress:

Emile Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Emile Pingat, Cloak, c. 1879 – 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.6.7)

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Three-Quarter Rear View

Cloak Mantle Pingat c. 1891

Emile Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2007.211.38)

Interestingly enough, In my search, it seemed that the most striking examples were those may by Emile Pingat and after some thought, we decided that a full-length cloak would be the most effective and practical design, especially given that my ball gown is a Mid-Bustle Era design so after going through my collection of original patterns, I came up with one from the early 1890s that I could modify:

Karin Cloak

Angus,  our creative consultant checks out the faux fur, trying to determine what animal it came from…

Karin Cloak

Curved gores follow the shape of the underlying ball gown.

Karin Mantle Cloak

Here’s a good view of the corded floral design.

We’ve used a pale blue silk satin and lined it in ivory silk moire. The cloak is also trimmed in a faux fur (primarily to avoid issues with potential vermin infestation). The cloak is still under construction but we’ll be finished soon and when we are we’ll post some more views here. 🙂

1890s Street Style, Part 1

Street style has always been a useful tool for understanding how people actually dressed during a particular era and that holds true for the late 19th Century. Unfortunately, street style’s usefulness is limited by the level photographic technology and the further we look back, the less useful it is- until cameras became portable enough to take outside, photographs (aka “images”) were limited to set-piece studio shots in which people dressed up specifically for (early photographs were expensive and required a lot of time, equipment, and effort to get right). It’s not until the 1880s and 90s that photographic technology had evolved to the point where useful pictures could be taken outside.

For fashion purposes, images of street style prior to the 1890s are limited (although they’re out there) so it’s a real treat whenever we come across a new source. In this case, we recently discovered online (got to love the internet!) a series of pictures that were taken in the Mid-1890s by a one Carl Størmer (1872-1957) who was a Norwegian student at the time who later went on to become a mathematician and physicist. Using a specially designed vest camera, Størmer would greet people on the street and take their picture, unbeknownst to them. The details are fascinating and more can be found HERE.

spy-camera-secret-street-photography-carl-stormer-norway-159

Carl Stømer on the left, his camera on the right.

The pictures are fascinating not only for portraying what sorts of clothing were worn in everyday life (as best as we can determine) but we also candid, unstaged poses- more “real people” rather than people deliberately posing for portraits with all the attendant restraints.

In previous posts, we have approached 1890s day fashions from more of an ideal perspective, using fashion plates, illustrations, and original artifacts. All of these mediums are useful but lack that final step of answering precisely “just HOW did they look while being worn”. Hopefully, we can help bridge that gap a bit and so there are a few examples to get us started- please note that because of the way these photographs were taken, they’re not the best angles nor are they always in the best of focus (and of course there are the vagaries of digital imaging).

Here are a few featuring outerwear:

Street Style 1890s Norway

Street Style 1890s Norway

Street Style 1890s Norway

Street Style 1890s Norway

In the above pictures, the short jacket style is predominant although there is also the mantle; both were popular during the Mid to Late 1890s although the leg-of-mutton sleeves shrink in size as the decade progresses. Just to put it into perspective, here are some supplemental images of the sorts of jacket styles that were out there, at least in the United States:

Womens' Jackets 1899 - 1900

And here’s the actual jacket. This is just one of the various styles that were out there:

1890s Jacket

From Woodland Farms Vintage

1890s Jacket

Close-Up of Front

And for a few mantles:

Cape Jacket c. 1893 - 1895

Cape Jacket, c. 1893 – 1895; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.11-1932)

Mantle c. 1890

Mantle, c. 1890

In the next installment, we’ll take a look at some other forms of street style for the 1890s so stay tuned. 🙂

Outerwear For The 1890s…

ca. 1890’s, [cabinet card, portrait of a woman with a camera] sooo glad we don't have to wear all this any more

L

ately, it seems that outerwear has been on my mind, especially after yesterday’s post. 🙂 Although the weather here in Southern California has been unseasonably warm, it’s post-Labor Day and Fall is coming- I just feel it- and hence my looking forward. In the course of writing my post on 1880s outerwear, I came across some illustrations of the jacket styles that were coming into vogue during the 1890s, especially in view of the trend towards cycling suits and similar practical garments that developed in response to the shifting position of women.

1890s Jacket Styles 1890

Fashion Plate, Winter 1890

Jackets are interesting in that while they’re obviously meant as outerwear against the elements, they also seem to act as a sort of “over-bodice” for dresses and in some fashion illustrations, it’s hard to tell if they jackets or bodices. It’s an interesting conundrum, to say the least. While this style developed during the 1880s, jackets became especially pronounced during the 1890s, being commercially produced in a wide variety of styles as pictured below:

Womens' Jackets 1899 - 1900

Short jackets were especially useful for women engaging in outdoor activities such as cycling as can be seen from these examples:

Cycling Jacket 1898 - 1900

Cycling Jacket, c. 1898-1900; Rrijksmuseum BK-1973-402)

Cycling-1898-Womens-outfits-BE-1

But jackets were not just limited to activewear, but they could also be high-fashion as with this example from the House of Worth:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket, Worth, 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.75)

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Style-wise, jackets reflected the prevailing styles to include in this case, leg-of-mutton sleeves. Here’s are some pictures of the jacket being worn as part of a total outfit:

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

Afternoon Jacket Worth 1895

And, just to show the range of design/style possibilities, here’s another example from an unknown source:

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket, c. 1890s; North Dakota State University Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection (1986.07.55)

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Jacket c. 1890s

Rear View

Although a specific date is not given, I would estimate that this jacket was made in the late 1890s, probably 1898-1900. The tailoring is exquisite and the appliques and embroidery are spectacular, if not a bit over-the-top, and style treatment on the front is simply amazing, especially since it creates the illusion that there are is a separate vest and jacket (they’re actually all one unit). It’s too bad that there’s no known picture of this jacket being worn as part of a complete outfit.

The previous two examples are quite elaborate with detail but simpler versions did exist and they would definitely make a perfect addition to almost any 1890s day outfit- it’s something that’s not seen being recreated these days.