Looking Back- Bath

It was only three years but feels like a lifetime ago… we’ll be back! 🙂


WWe had a lovely evening at the Prior Attire Ball, the rooms are exquisite (oh the chandeliers!) and met new friends. There were so many gorgeous gowns and handsome men in white tie or uniform, it was worth all the effort to attend. The sweetest moment was the opportunity to meet in person people I’ve only met and admired online on a few social media platforms. Well done! We’ll be back. Tomorrow is breakfast at the Pump Rooms, in daytime attire.



Designs From Maison Worth

charles-frederick-worth-english-fashion-designer-active-in-paris

The Master Himself

Today we take you across the ocean to Paris, the capital of fashion in the late 19th Century for a brief look at one (of many) creation by Frederick Charles Worth. Worth was one of the first “name” fashion designers who pioneered what ultimately was to become the Haute Couture system that ruled the fashion world for almost a century.

Along with creating his own dress designs, Worth also commissioned his own custom fabrics and in particular he patronized the French silk industry centered in Lyon1Unfortunately, the silk industry in Lyon has diminished since the late 19th Century and today, Prelle et Cie is one of the few silk weavers that remain. Prelle’s silks have been used to restore a wide variety of historic sites worldwide and they even recreated many of the silk fabrics used in 2006 film Marie Antoinette.. One such creation that Worth commissioned from the firm of Morel, Poeckès & Paumlin in 1889 was the Tulipes Hollandaises (“Holland Tulips). The design was intended to push the silk weaver’s art to its limits, the design has a three-foot repeat in the pattern which made it difficult to weave.

Below are two pictures of the textile’s design:

Worth Evening Cape 1889_3

Worth Evening Cape 1889_4

The tulips are depicted in bright colors set against a black background and some commentators have characterized it as an “aggressive” design intended to make a bold statement, especially given the size of the design repeat.

As part of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris, the products of French industry were exhibited and naturally the textile and couture industries were part of it. The above textile was put on display and it ultimately was awarded a grand prize.

Paris_1889_plakatThe above fabric was ultimately made into an evening cape that was designed to show off the tulip design to its maximum advantage:

Worth_Evening Cape 1889_1

Front View- Evening Cape, House of Worth, 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1708)

Worth_Evening Cape 1889_2

Rear View- Evening Cape, House of Worth, 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1708)

Worth_Evening Cape 1889_5

Here’s a view that’s a bit less sterile than what is normally encountered in a museum setting.

The above evening cape shows off the silk textile to its maximum advantage. Some could argue that it’s excessive and perhaps even gauche but that was the nature of Haute Couture in the late 19th Century and given the spirit of the time, anything less would have been dismissed as banal. Less was definitely not more during the Belle Epoch. 🙂



More At The Atelier

Why else wear a colored petticoat, if not to show it? Some secrets are better shared. 🙂

 



Mid-1890s Spring Style

With the arrival of Spring, we tend to think in terms of linen and cotton and such as with this circa 1890s day dress:

Day Dress, c. 1895; Augusta Auctions Website

While the Augusta Auctions website describes this dress being made of cotton, it could have just as easily been linen but either way, it definitely reads as a warmer weather garment. This dress is of a style that consists of a skirt combined with what could be termed a waist worn over the skirt top. Of course, it also raises the question of when does a bodice become a waist or vice-versa? This dress seems to occupy that middle ground where sometimes it’s hard to determine; the bodice/waist is a little heavier than what we normally associate with the waist yet at the same time, it’s a bit more loosely structured that a standard dress bodice (or course, make no mistake, a corset was worn underneath).1For some more discussion on waists, click HERE. Here’s a couple more examples of this particular style:

The above French fashion plate illustrates this style nicely, albeit with a little variation; it’s clear that this was more of a youthful style and was especially useful when it came to outdoor activities:

And it would appear that this was a popular style as far back as the late 1880s with this pattern promotion in March 1889 issue of Demorest’s Family Magazine:

Below are some more views of the dress:

As can be seen from these pictures, the basic fashion fabric is a green/putty colored cotton with ivory stripes dress. White/ivory colored Guipure lace trims the bodice/waist. Finally, the shoulders are trimmed with black silk satin bows along with black silk satin belt and cuff stripes.

This is a simple yet elegant dress for the Spring and Summer and we especially envision this as the perfect seaside dress. 🙂



Mid-1870s Afternoon Dress Style

Yesterday we took a look at a mid-1870s afternoon dress from Worth. Today we take a look at another afternoon dress from circa 1874-1875 that offers a bit of a contrast:

Afternoon Dress, c. 1874-1875; Metropolitan museum of Art (1979.367.1a, b)

The bodice and skirt are  constructed of what appears to be a light brown silk taffeta combined with a jacquard (more on that below). Turning to the bodice, the body is made of the brocade while the sleeves are made of the light brown taffeta. The rear of the bodice also features jacquard tails that extend over the top of the train/bustle. The cuffs are trimmed with the jacquard and ivory lace (the lace is missing from the left cuff).  The fabrics on the front of the skirt have been shaped so as to create two layers consisting of the jacquard on top of the light brown taffeta, scalloped at the bottom and lying over a base layer of the same light brown taffeta. Decorating the center of the front opening are a series of knots trimmed with the jacquard  and the hem has a row of knife pleating.

As can be seen from the profile view above, the skirt is made of two layers, the inner one extending to the ground with the train consisting of the brocade and the front consisting of jacquard panels covering the light brown taffeta. The outer layer extends down from the waist and over the hips, extending down about one third of the way down consisting primarily of the light brown fabric trimmed with large knots.

In terms of silhouette, this dress reads mid-1870s. Compared to the the 1870-1872 time frame, the train is more tidy and restrained.  Below is a close-up of the cuffs:

The slashing is an interesting decorative touch. Below is are three-quarter and direct rear views of the dress with the bodice and its tails draped over the skirt.

And for a close-up of the jacquard…

By this time you must be wondering just what the jacquard fashion fabric looks like up close- well, you’re in luck:

From the picture, it would appear that the patterned fashion fabric is jacquard- possibly a cotton or cotton/silk blend- and it certainly reads like a tapestry. What’s interesting is that from a distance, the brocade almost appears to be dark gold and gives the dress a richness that contrasts with the light brown taffeta. Compared to the design from Worth we looked at yesterday, this is far more dramatic yet it’s also clumsy, at least in the way the decorative knots are used- they appear to have been somewhat of an afterthought and especially on the sides. But, no matter what we may think, this is still an interesting example of mid-1870s style and especially in the way two contrasting fabrics are manipulated to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts.