And For Some Artistic Inspiration…

Today we offer a little artistic inspiration by way of this portrait of the Princesse de Broglie that was painted by James Tissot in 1895:

James Tissot, The Princesse de Broglie, 1895

The first thing that caught our eye was Tissot’s use of analogous colors with shades of green on the cape and shades of yellow on the dress. The green colors on the cape are especially interesting in that we see shades of color accentuated by various textures: light green feathers for trim, slightly darker green on the pleated silk collar, and a variegated fashion fabric of gold and green. The overall effect is amazing. The evening dress the sitter is wearing definitely takes second place with a yellow fashion fabric trimmed with a darker yellow on the hem, collar, and belt.  Finally, to tie it all together, there’s a choker collar of dark blue with gold that immediately draws the eye to the sitter’s face. Tissot has done a brilliant job here and one can almost feel a visual harmony of coolness, evoking a sense of spring and summer and some reason our minds are drawn to Monet’s home at Giverny…


In terms of garments, greens have always been a favorite with us and many of our designs have incorporated similar colors:

We have by no means exhausted the design possibilities using these colors and anticipate creating more designs in the future. 🙂

Capes & Capelets In The 1890s

During the 1890s, the cape evolved from a traditional article of outerwear into a major fashion item in its own right, transcending the purely practical and evolving into a fashion work of art. Moreover, because of the loose sizing and easy construction, capes especially lent themselves to mass production and retailers offered them in a variety of styles as can be seen from this 1895 French advertisement:

Or this 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog:

And of course, nothing would be complete without some extant examples starting with this relatively functional but highly decorated cape with Medici collar:

Cape c. 1890s; Thierry de Maigret auction website.

The body appears to have been made from a finer wool, probably a worsted or perhaps a cashmere but it’s hard to tell without a closer examination. But what really makes what would otherwise be an ordinary cape stand out is the extensive soutache pattern running across the length of the cloak and collar. Here’s a couple more examples in the same vein:

Cape, c. 1890s; Kerry Taylor Auction Website

Besides wool, velvet/velvet plush was another favorite base fabric:

And cape designs could be very elaborate:

Evening Cape, c. 1900; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1976.318.16)

The piecing of the fabric pieces at the back is simply amazing and the design effect is incredible. Here’s a side profile that shows the collar to good effect:

Here’s a close-up of the collar:

Finally, we have this example that incorporates extensive lace and beading over silk velvet:

A. Walles, Capelet, c. 1895; Auction Website

And here’s a close-up  of the lace and beading:

Below are some unique views of a cape that are usually omitted. It’s interesting to see how it’s all laid out:


Here’s a view of the collar, laid out flat:

And the whole cape laid out flat:

We hope you have enjoyed this short excursion into the world of 1890s capes. In future posts, we’ll be posting more about this fascinating garment.