Corset Creations For The Early 1900s

And next up, one of our latest corset creations and very appropriate for the early 1900s- Nile green silk corset and pistachio cotton batiste petticoat with vintage lace insertion; this corset is patterned from Atelier Sylphe Ref S with antique lace and pink silk flossing, embroidery, and pale green petticoat…it reminds me of a pistachio macaron.This is just a sample of what we can make for you and custom orders are welcome. For more details, please contact us HERE.

 

 



Historical Mirror Monday…

It’s Historical Mirror Monday here at our Victorian Home in Old West Tombstone. Every vacation trip there is another adventure in old house restoration! In the 30s, the town dressmaker worked from here, I like to think she approves of us.  🙂

 



Looking At The Meiji Era

Today we travel to Japan to talk about the impact of Western fashion during the 1880s and 90s. As it’s been often said, fashion influences are a two-way street and while Japonisme developed in Western Europe in response to contact with Japan, the converse occurred in Japan. We hope you enjoy this little introduction.


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Toyohara Chikanobu (豊原周延) (1838–1912), better known to his contemporaries as Yōshū Chikanobu (楊洲周延), Women and girls in Western dress with various hairstyles.

The the mid to late 19th Century, or more properly the Meiji Era (1868 – 1912, saw the rapid modernization of Japan as it strove to position itself as a nation of stature equal to the West. As part of this modernization process, the adoption of many elements of Western culture was seen as desirable and not only when it came to building and maintaining military and economic strength. The consequences of not modernizing were starkly apparent, they only had to look to their unfortunate neighbor China which was rapidly being subjugated by European imperialism, either directly through the outright seizure to territory or indirectly through economic domination and all enshrined in various unequal treaties.

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Toyohara Chikanobu (豊原周延) (1838–1912), better known to his contemporaries as Yōshū Chikanobu (楊洲周延), The Emperor Meiji, 1887.

In their quest to strengthen themselves vis-a-vis the West, the Japanese adopted many Western cultural elements to include dress, viewing the adoption of Western dress as a way of being taken seriously by Westerners.  In much the same way individuals in the West (.e., America and Western Europe) chose their clothes with an eye towards maintaining respectability, the Japanese as a nation sought to emulate the West by adopting its fashions. g themselves to world at their best, so did that Japanese when it came to interacting with the West. However, at the same time, the Japanese also impressed their own design aesthetic on Western clothing and making it their own.

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Yoshū Chikanobu – The Emperor, the young Crown Prince and the Empress are accompanied by court ladies on an outing to Asuka Park (1890)

Starting mainly with military uniforms, the Western was gradually adopted by ordinary Japanese, spurred along by the Emperor and the Imperial family’s example. The adoption of Western dress was formalized in 1871 when the Emperor Meiji issued an edict directing that all his officials and men at court were to wear Western dress:

The national polity is indomitable, but manners and customs should be adaptable. We greatly regret that the uniform of our court has been established following the Chinese custom, and it has become exceedingly effeminate in style and character. We should no longer appear before the people in these effeminate styles, and we have therefore decided to reform dress regulations entirely.[1]

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Emperor Meiji (1852 – 1912)

A similar edict for women was issued by the Empress Haruko on January 17, 1887:

Now we can no longer restrict ourselves to bowing from a kneeling position, but will have to observe the Naniwa style of bowing while standing.  Moreover, if we look at contemporary Western women’s wear, we find that it combines a top or jacket and a skirt in the manner of our ancient Japanese system of dress.  This is not only suitable for the formal standing bow but also convenient for action and movement and makes it only natural to adopt the Western method of sewing.[2]

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Empress Haruko (1849 – 1914)

Also, edits were issued directing that Western dress (principally prescribed uniforms) was to be worn when conducting official business.

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Family Portrait

For many Japanese of lesser rank, the adoption of Western dress was at first somewhat superficial in that it would be worn outside the home during “business hours” but at home they would change into traditional clothing. Also, it should be noted that Western dress was not  always the most practical, especially when it came to removing one’s shoes when entering a house or maneuvering around the house in a bustle dress. Finally, the adoption of Western dress was largely restricted to larger urban areas; it would take longer for more isolated rural regions.

Below are some illustrations of Japanese women wearing Western dress:

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The above illustration also includes hairstyles.

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The Imperial Family

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Close-Up

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Adachi Ginkō, illustration of Ladies Sewing, 1887. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Along with the adoption of Western fashions were the methods of creating those fashions as can be seen from the above illustration. Below are a few examples in photographs:

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Unfortunately, we were unable to date the above photograph but the style would suggest the 1890s, either early or late judging from the sleeves.

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Nagako Nabeshima (1855-1941)

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Nagako Nabeshima (1855-1941)

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Nagako Nabeshima (1855-1941)

Nagako Nabeshima was married to the Marquis Naohiro Nabeshima, a nobleman who was connected with the Imperial family and had spent a lot of time in the West serving in various official positions. Below is a photograph of Akiko Maeda, Marquise and first wife of the Toshitsugu Maeda, another high-ranking noble:[3]

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Akiko Maeda (1870 – 1949), c. 1887

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Akiko Maeda, c. 1887, back side of picture.

Akiko’s day dress is firmly in the late 1880s in regard to style and would not be out of place in any major City in either America or Europe. From the picture, it appears that the outer skirt and bodice are silk accompanied with  cut velvet underskirt. The same cut velvet is on the front of the bodice.

Just for contrast, here’s something more in the “street style” category:

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This picture is interesting in the somewhat awkward pose as well as the incongruous cigar that’s clearly been added in later (early Photoshop 🙂 ). The sack suit and bowler hat are a bit too large while the dress appears to fit pretty well. Judging from the styles, it appears that this picture was probably taken sometime in the late 1890s.

So far we’ve seen various pictures, both illustrations and photographs, of Western fashion in Japan. What about actual extant examples? Well, here’s a formal day dress that belonged to Nagako Nabeshima:

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Day Dress/Reception Dress, c. 1880s, belonging to Marquise Nagako Nabeshima; Jingu Chokokan Museum

Japonisme Day Dress c. 1880s

Close-up of the train.

Unfortunately, the Jingu Chokokan Museum website did not have any pictures of the front of the dress but nevertheless, this dress is a spectacular example of cultural fusion in dress. One can see the traditional Japanese design motifs in the fabric and the trim. We wish there was more information available in English on this dress.

The impact of Western dress during the Meiji Era was somewhat superficial in that, outside of the Imperial Army and Navy, it was mostly adopted by the Imperial Court and those with some sort of connection with the government. In many Japanese, Western dress was worn for public occasions or when performing official duties; at home they switched to traditional dress. In later decades, one would see a resurgence of traditional dress and especially with the Kimono. This is admittedly just a brief overview of a somewhat complex history and in future posts we hope to explore this them of cultural interaction more closely. 🙂


1. Nakagawa, Keiichiro, and Henry Rosovsky. 1963. The Case of the Dying Kimono: The Influence of Changing Fashions on the Development of the Japanese Woolen Industry. Business History Review 37 (1 & 2):59-78.

2. Ibid.

3. Both Marquis Naohiro Nabeshima and Marquis Toshitsugu Maeda were former Daimyos, or feudal lords who had lost their hereditary land holdings with the consolidation of the Meiji regime. Essentially, these former feudal lords were co-opted into a Western-style nobility which had been created as part of Japan’s modernization. Naturally, many of these former feudal lords were put to work for the new Meiji regime.



Looking Back- Craigdarroch Castle

It’s been a little more than two years since we visited Victoria, British Columbia and the memories still linger on- it’s definitely one of those places we intend to one day revisit. Craigdarroch Castle was simply amazing and it’s a lot larger on the inside than one would suspect. If you’re up in that part of the world, it’s worth a visit- you’ll be amazed but prepare to do some walking (though it’s not as bad as Neuschwanstein!).


After a brief tea refreshment, we drive back to Victoria to pay a visit to Craigdarroch Castle. Nicknamed today as “Canada’s Castle,” Craigdarroch Castle was built in 1887-90 by the Robert Dunsmuir, a man who made his fortune from coal and railroads. Like many houses built by the nouveau riche of the late 19th Century, to expense was spared and it was built large, originally on a 28-acre estate (although most of the surrounding land was later sold off). For us, it was a fascinating peek into a world mostly only seen in pictures and the sheer massiveness of the house impressed us- one just doesn’t get an idea of the sheer size until they actually experience it in person. 🙂 Here’s few views of the exterior:

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There was renovation going on so I wasn’t able to get the best pictures so here’s one from Wikipedia to help out:

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And now for the interior…

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The central staircase- there are four floors and a lot of steps…

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Part of the entrance hallway.

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Front Parlor

One of the most interesting things we learned was that in restoring the house, great efforts were made to track down the original furnishings and various other artifacts though auction catalogs and the like- after the death of the Joan Dunsmuir in 1908, the house and its contents were dispersed in a number of sales since none of the heirs lacked the means to buy the others out. Also, ironically enough, Robert Dunsmuir died in 1889 before he could occupy his new house. Moving along, here are some more views:

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One of the hallways…

By now, you probably might have noticed that there were a number of garments on display. Unfortunately there were no signs or anything else that gave any information so it’s hard to know if these were original to the house or merely generic placeholders. But here they are:

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This one is definitely late 1890s, especially with the relatively narrow sleeve caps.

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Here’s a good view of the side profile.

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The chatelaine is amazing.

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This one was a bit far away to be able to view properly but it appears to be more of a late 1890s or very early 1900s.

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Fairly generic ball gown/evening dress. The staging wasn’t the most optimal.

And for a something Chinese…we’re not sure how that fit in but OK. 🙂

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We’re not sure where this fit in but it was fascinating to look at.

Here are some more views of various rooms:

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One of the bedrooms.

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The billiard room.

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Early sewing machine.

The ballroom was closed due to issues with the soundness of the floor but there were a number of dance cards:  🙂

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Overall, it was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend it for anyone visiting Victoria.



What’s On At The Atelier…

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inally finished restoring a museum hat in my collection and thought I’d see what it looked like with my 90s silk gown. Should I make a tiny matching one for Miss Fiona? I think she’s envious.