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A Circa 1878 Wedding Gown
Today we present another interesting dress design from the Mid-Bustle/Natural Form Era with this circa 1878 wedding dress. Yes, you heard that right! This dress is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection and on their web site, the dress as identified as a “Wedding Ensemble.” Unfortunately, they don’t provide any information on how they arrived at that conclusion so this has to be taken with a grain of salt…
This dress is constructed of an embroidered wine colored stripped silk satin for the overskirt and bodice combined with a purple silk satin for the underskirt, bodice front and cuffs. Finally around the cuffs, there’s a think band of the purple silk sating that’s been pleated and finished off with white lace. In terms of silhouette, this one is cylindrical, characteristic of the Natural Form/Mid-Bustle Era and has no train. The bodice is a cuirass style, falling over the hips. The decorative effect on the underskirt hem is interesting, employing a combination of pleating, ruching, and use of the stripped fashion fabric in the form of vertical tabs running along the upper hem.
Now, as for the dress being a wedding dress, this is a very possible. Unfortunately, there’s no documentation posted online at the Met Museum website and we can only assume that there is documentation but that it didn’t make it online for reasons unknown. But nevertheless, this dress could have been used as a wedding dress in that during the late 19th Century, the use of white as THE wedding dress color was not a rigid convention; a wedding dress was often a bride’s best dress and was meant for wear long after the wedding. Moreover, the idea that one would have a specific dress to be worn only on the wedding day and then put away was also not the norm and in fact, was simply not feasible for most people, not to mention that it was viewed as wasteful. The idea of the one-use wedding dress would start to develop towards the end of the 19th Century but only by the very rich. For a more complete discussion of wedding dresses, check these posts HERE, HERE, and HERE. Ultimately, this dress presents a classic late 1870s/early 1880s day look and works for a variety of social occasions.😁
More Late 1870s Asymmetrical Style
If you liked our previous post in asymmetrical style, here’s another example from the same couturière, Maison Cécile Laisne:
This time, the designer utilized a combination of an ivory-colored silk jacquard overskirt arranged in a spiral drape that works its way upwards towards the bodice combined with a silk underskirt covered in an elaborate network of woven cords and what appear to be large metallic beads. If one looks carefully underneath the net, one can see an underskirt consisting of rows of knife pleating, also in an ivory color.
The bodice is long, going over the hips and is typical of Mid-Bustle/Natural Form styles. The bodice is symmetrical, consisting of what appears to be some sort of plain ivory-colored silk satin fabric framed along the hem and front by wide rows of ivory silk satin with passementerie consisting of cording and metallic beads similar to that of the net underskirt. Below is a close-up of the fashion fabric found on the overskirt:
From the pictures, it appears that the net underskirt is visible on the left side only while covered with the outerskirt draping on the right.
The cord work netting is amazing and the steel beads really give it definition. It also appears that there’s some ruching of the fabric of the underskirt foundation. The dress’s asymmetrical style can really be seen from this rear view picture:
The demi-train is pleated and has two or three rows of knife pleating running along the hem. Further up, one can see where the spiraling outerskirt ends, secured in the folds of the train (can we say draping? 😁 ). A small bow on the bodice back at hem level completes the look. And last, here’s the dress label:
Compared to Maison Cécile Laisne’s design in the first post, we tend to like this design a lot better because the asymmetrical elements are arranged more harmoniously with the dress achieving a unified style rather than having elements seemingly “bolted on.” But as with all of this, it’s a very subjective thing. 😁
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Announcing another Gilded Age sale at Atelier Lily Absinthe!!! Select Gilded Age Era (1870-1900) sewing patterns are on sale for 15% off. Check it out!