A Year Ago…

Ayear ago we were getting ready to head off to Germany and Sweden…that was a lot of fun and it was definitely an adventure. Once this COVID business has resolved itself (hopefully) , we’ll definitely be heading back.  🙂


For our next excursion abroad, at the end of August, we’ll be heading off to Munich for a few days followed by Sweden. While fashion-wise France has always overshadowed both countries, we’ll still be on the lookout for the rare and unusual in the world of fashion and history so stay tuned for more on our adventures. 🙂

Doucet & 1890s Style

While the House of Worth was the leading fashion house during the late 19th Century, it was by no means the only one. Couturiers such as Jacques Doucet, Emile Pingat, and Jeanne Paquin, just to name a few, were in constant competition with each other. In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at Doucet and his take on 1890s style.

Doucet Ballgown c. 1898 - 1902

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 that you’ve enjoyed this brief excursion into some of Doucet’s designs. Stay tuned as we bring you more in the future.



A Trip To The OK Corral…

The gunfight at the OK Corral has been a key element in Tombstone’s history and with the current quarantine we’ve been unable to make our usual pilgrimage. So, just to keep the memories fresh, we decided to bump up a post we made sometime ago describing one of our visits. Enjoy!


No trip to Tombstone is complete without a visit to the OK Corral and today both of us at Lily Absinthe paid a visit. The lighting was excellent, reminding us of our visit to Monet’s Giverny Gardens, so we decided to take advantage and get some pictures and soak up some period ambiance. 🙂

Who is that saucy lady? Why, she's Karin McKechnie, the one arm of Lily Absinthe.

Who is that saucy lady? Why, she’s Karin McKechnie, the one arm of Lily Absinthe.

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Out for a drive, Karin insisted on going out without a driver…scandalous!

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Another view, Karin dropped in at Fly’s Studio but fortunately, Ike Clanton had departed long before.

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Adam is checking on his holdings and has been assured that the assay is good.

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Adam dropped in at Fly’s Studio…word has it that Johnny Behan is hiding out there from the Cowboys…

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Adam taking his ease behind the OK Corral…what’s that, no gun? He left it in his other suit…

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Checking out our investment…I am not sure that the automobile will go anywhere but at least it’s in a color other than black.

Adam Car2

Close up outside of the Tombstone Visitor Center.

OK, the last three pictures were actually taken across the street from the OK Corral but hey, it’s close enough. 🙂

As you can see from the above pictures, we’re dressed for a day out on the town in clothing typical of the late 1870s – early 1880s. In the case of Adam’s sack suit, this is a style that eventually segued into the modern business suit and will work for the 1880s through the early 1900s. This particular suit is made from linen with a lining of shirt-weight Pima cotton.

In the case of the Karin’s dress, this is a Parisian-sprigged cotton print trimmed in silk from the c. 1879. This is a dress definitely designed for a warmer climate. So, Gentle Reader, contrary to popular belief, Victorian Era clothing does not have to be dull, drab, and/or uncomfortable! 🙂



An Early 1890s Tea Gown…

I‘s Friday and that means the weekend and relaxation and noting says relaxation like a tea gown! 🙂 Here’s one interesting example from circa 1891-1893:

This gown is constructed from a crimson silk velvet trimmed with black chiffon on the front, upper sleeves, and cuffs. Running along the bottom is a white cotton dust ruffle. Here’s a couple more views:

Tea Gown c. 1891-1893; Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow

The white backdrop shows off the dress nicely and one can get a really good look at the fashion fabric. Here’s a close-up of the dust ruffle:

This is an excellent view of the hem and one can see a white cotton ruffled dust ruffle that’s just a bit longer than the rest of the dress. Next, there’s a red knife pleated inner layer, probably made from some sort of polished cotton or sateen followed by the velvet fashion fabric.1The museum description was short on specifics so this is just speculation on our part. In terms of silhouette, it’s relatively straight with no train, reflecting the more casual nature of the tea gown style. This gown reads “luxury” and is an interesting example of one of the many forms that a tea gown could take during the 1880s/90s. More to come so stay tuned! 🙂