Late 1890s Parisian Style

Today’s dress is a circa 1898 day dress from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs:

Day Dress, c. 1898; Musée des Arts Décoratifs (32188.AB)

Constructed by Coguenhem et cie (one of many smaller Parisian fashion houses of the time that we no almost nothing about today), this dress is a one-piece construction and had the hour-glass shape characteristic of Mid to Late 1890s day dresses. The dress itself has smooth lines and a minimum of trim although the style effect of the double is striking, consisting of a scalloped outer hem combined with a contrasting hem of light celadon silk satin. The dress’ fashion fabric is a mint green-colored wool chenille with lighter celedon-colored velvet appliques;  also, the dress is decorated with what appears to be same celedon-colored silk satin cording utilizing a floral design motif. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine what some of the trim details are because of the lack of close-up photos.

The above picture shows off the trim details to their best advantage and the corded floral design really makes the dress stand out. Hopefully at some point we’ll be able to find out more about this amazing dress.


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Some Mid-1890s Dress Style

Today we feature a circa 1894 day dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that in many ways encompasses late 19th Century design aesthetics.

Day Dress, c. 1894; Metropolitan Museum of Art ( 35.134.13a, b)

This dress consists of a celedon-colored silk satin underskirt combined with a striped celedon overskirt with olive-colored wavy stripes. The overskirt continues past the waist, creating the effect of an open robe that opens to reveal a brown velvet under bodice trimmed in ivory-colored lace. This same velvet fabric is used in the leg-of-mutton upper sleeves which give way to lower sleeves made from the same striped silk satin as the overskirt. It’s an amazing combination of textures and fabrics: soft and non-luminous silk velvet giving way to very luminous silk satin. Also, the color combination is also harmonious and reveals that some care went into their selection. Finally, we see the use of a lot of dark old gold-colored trim and especially on the bodice front.

In terms of silhouette, although the bustle and trains had largely disappeared by the 1890s, there’s definitely a train with the dress and no doubt an appropriate understructure was employed; this dress doesn’t quite let go of late 1880s skirt style.

The above picture gives a good view of the rear and especially illustrates the color and fabric combinations very well. Below are some close-up views:

Here’s a closer view of the bodice front with it’s silk velvet/silk satin combination. The velvet color could be a brown or perhaps a dark chartreuse- it’s hard to tell.  The lace jabot was probably a lighter shade of ivory or off-white back when the dress was made; in our experience lace tends to yellow with age.

This picture nicely illustrates the outer fashion fabric and the trim. The outer fabric appears to be a combination of a lighter celedon-colored base fabric combined with a darker olive, or even steel-colored, striped ribbon-like fabric that’s been attached to the base fabric (as far as we can tell from the pictures).  Overall, it’s a fascinating combination of fabric and we’d love to be able to view this live. We hope you’ve enjoyed this view of mid 1890s style.


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More Late 1890s Evening Dress Style From Maison Worth

Today we take a look at a circa 1897 evening gown from Maison Worth by way of the Olive Matthews Collection at the Chertsey Museum!

Worth, Evening Dress, 1897; The Olive Matthews Collection, Chertsey Museum (M.2017.013a–c)(Image 1897

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information online about the dress but style-wise, it’s consistent with what the Maison was producing during the late 1890s and early 1900s. The most striking aspect is this dress are the decorative floral motifs covering the overskirt on the sides and rear:

Florals and wheat designs were a Maison Worth signature style and it’s especially evident with the floral design here which is HUGE, covering the overskirt from hem to waist. We wish there were more pictures of this dress, it looks stunning, especially with the floral design. We hoped that you’ve enjoyed this brief glimpse into Maison Worth.


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Something Different In 1880s Dress Style

We recently came across this very interesting circa 1880-1882 day dress in the costume collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  What’s striking about this dress is that the dress fabric is more of a composite consisting of a polka dotted mesh over an underlayer rather simply being a just a single fabric. Let’s take a look…

Day Dress, c. 1880-1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.38.8.1a, b)

In both pictures, above and below, one can see the polka dot mesh combined with rows of wide lace trim also with polka dots. The sleeves are interesting in that the design appears to be a railroaded mesh that contrasts with the main bodice.

Silhouette-wise, this dress follows an early to mid-1880s style with some training but not quite the more extreme styles that arise later in the decade. At the same time, the training is somewhat restrained and minimal as was characteristic in Mid-Bustle Era/Natural Form styles.

The bodice appears to be a fairly standard polonaise style, as can be seen from both these front and rear views.

And views of the train…

Now for some closer views of the fashion fabric:

In the above picture, we have an extreme close-up view of the mesh fashion fabric with inset polka dots. It’s hard to make out what the underlayer is but we can safely assume that it’s probably some form of silk or may be even a sateen (I’ve got an inquiry in with the Met on this point). Below is a close-up of the bodice top which appears to have a black velvet collar and lapels.

Another close-up view to include the sleeves with appears to be made of a patterned black netting combined with gold-colored piping. It’s more delicate and subtle than when first viewed at a distance.

Finally, here are views, above and below, of the lace treatments with black polka dots. The detail is amazing!

From a fashion historical perspective, this is a fascinating dress although in that one doesn’t usually see a mesh effect used on fashion fabric in quite this matter for late 19th Century styles. Also, visually, the sleeves provide an interesting contrast to the rest of the dress and they seem to almost clash- at least to us. While design-wise this is interesting, we’re not so sure that this was particularly effective from an aesthetic perspective but this is subjective on our part. Anyway, we hope you’ve enjoyed this small excursion into an out-of-the-way fashion style.


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