We are constantly on the search for the new and different when it comes to dress designs and not a day goes by when we find something new. Today we present an evening wedding reception dress (although it would work in daytime) from circa 1885 belonging to the Palais Galliera musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris:
This dress has a silhouette characteristic of the Mid to Late 1880s and the side/back bodice and overskirt are constructed of, what appears to be, a light blue silk faille. In contrast, the front bodice and underskirt are constructed of , what appears to be, a blue silk velvet with beadwork in a floral pattern. In viewing this dress, the first thing that the eye is drawn to is the beadwork and the skirts are arranged to show off the large floral motif to its best advantage. The floral motif continues up the front of the bodice in two pieces, cut to create a set of facings that become wider as they approach the neckline, and ending with a matching tall mandarin-style collar. Finally, the velvet beading is also carried out in the cuffs.
Below are some close-up pictures that I created from the original pictures with photo editing software (not perfect but it should give a good idea of the dress details):
Above is some more detail of the front bodice- one can get a better sense of the beading on the blue velvet background set against a lighter blue tint. What is especially interesting is the texture of the light blue silk. Allowing for the vagaries of digital imaging, one can make out horizontal striping on the fabric for the shoulders and overskirt. The stripes are at a 45 degree angle on the bodice front to the left and right of the velvet panels- no doubt these were cut on the bias (at least we think so, a physical examination would clear up this point conclusively). Whether these stripes are the result of using different colored filaments in the weave or simply the product of the weaving process itself is difficult to tell.
Below is a close-up of the lower front under skirt and it’s here that one can see the flowered motif really come to life, the flowers and vines becoming much larger, creating a garden effect.
Below is a close-up of the texturing mentioned above. From the picture, it would appear that a darker shade of blue have been woven into the fabric, interspersed with the lighter blue yarns (these would be the weft yarns). The warp yarns would only be the lighter blue. It also wouldn’t be surprising if the dark blue weft yarns were also thicker than the lighter blue yarns so they would be more prominent. Overall, the textile effect is brilliant and it’s a pity that we cannot have examined this in person.
This dress is an interesting example of the styles that were coming out in the mid to late 1880s: elegant with simple, sharp lines. In contrast to the 1870s, this style is disciplined and “tidy”, relying more on the basic effect of the fabric and its surface decoration rather than added in trims and embellishments. It would seem that everything on this dress is done for a purpose and is all part of a cohesive whole with perfect balance and proportion. It’s a pity that we couldn’t get better pictures of the dress (the Palais Galliera is a horrible website to maneuver through) but we hope we’ve been able to adequately portray at least a portion of the dresse’s essence. Stay tuned for more! 🙂