Currently In Design…

We are never idle here at Lily Absinthe, we’re either designing or constructing garments in a seemingly never-ending cycle. Below is one of our current designs we are working on, an afternoon or visiting dress designed by Charles Worth in 1879:


Visiting Dress, Charles Worth, 1879; Museum of the City of New York (40.74.2)

Here are some more views:





Unfortunately, the photography does not do justice to the dress; if you compare the top picture with the four views below it, it does not appear that they are the same dress. But rest assured, they are; this dress is referenced in The Opulent Era and the top picture appears there in black and white.

Now, as to the dress itself, according to the Museum of the City of New York, the dress fabric is a “striped satin over a lavender mock underdress”. In looking at the above pictures, it would appear that the base fabric is a brown silk shot through with a lighter, copper-like silk. In the first picture, it is obvious that the lighting for the picture is passing from left to right and that the dress is reflecting the light, revealing the lighter copper color. Of course, this is somewhat speculative; since we do not have physical access to the garment it is hard to tell for sure.

But nevertheless, we are working on the premise that the base fabric is a brown/copper silk and that will guide our design choices. The faux lavender underdress is fairly straight-forward in terms of color and it presents a nice counterpoint to the brown-copper base fabric.

In terms of style, the dress is a princess line characteristic of the Mid-Bustle Era of the late 1870s – early 1880s and the emphasis is on vertical lines, helped along by the use of the faux underdress. Also, the use of a faux cravat, mock sash, and trim using in identical brocade fabric further enhance the vertical “long line” effect. Below are some fashion plates showing examples of the princess line for the Mid Bustle Era:

Fashion Plate 1878

Journal Des Demoiselles, September 1878


Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1880

For the rear train, we will most likely use a bustle pad and bustle that’s designed to push the dress away at the knee level. Unfortunately, the display of this dress lacks this and the rear train looks like a loose jumble of fabric. Although minimal trains are characteristic of Mid-Bustle Era dresses, they were still present and served to shape and direct the dress’ train. In the display of the above dress, the train simply drags when it should be mostly off the ground, unlike an evening dress or ball gown.

We will post progress pictures as our design takes shape during the creation process so stay tuned for more! 😉

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