Eiffel Red

In a previous post, we noted that in late 1889, a new color “chaudron red” had been created with the name “Eiffel Red” in honor of the newly built Eiffel Tower. Essentially, it was a rich deep shade of chaudron-red and as such described the original color that the Eiffel Tower was painted when it was first erected for the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The original paint was meant as a protective coating and had a copper-red color because of its active ingredient, iron oxide, which gives the paint its protective quality, preventing rust to the steel that made up the Eiffel Tower’s construction (even to this day, iron oxide paint is used for treating steel beams). So what did this look like? Probably something like this:

To give an idea how it might have looked like, at least through artistic eyes, is this illustration:

Georges Garen, Embrasement de la Tour Eiffel, 1889; Musée d’Orsay, Paris

It must have been a magnificent to have seen this back in 1889. 🙂

Trending- Color for November 1891

T he more we read through fashion publications of the 1880s and 1890s, the more fascinating we find their pronouncements on fashion trends and especially when it comes to color. For example, in the November 1891, Demorest’s Family Magazine, it’s noted that:

Striking combinations of color are a feature of the newest gowns. Dahlia-red with gray, beige with green, heliotrope with brown, dark blue with green, black with yellow, are popular; but perhaps the most novel is billiard-green with a bright blue, the apparently irreconcilable colors harmonized by a profusion of gold embroidery, and the gown made of these is exceedingly rich in effect, and not at all bizarre. Black wool dresses are trimmed with bright colors, and all black dresses of silk or wool. trimmed profusely with jet, are very fashionable. The combination of black and yellow is noticeable in all lines of dress, and hats of yellow velvet with jet trimmings are worn with costumes of all colors.

Just to visualize, here’s a rough idea of the the color combinations (allowing for the fact that they’re computer-generated):

Heliotrope/Brown

Dark Blue/Green

Black/Yellow

Bright Blue/Billiard Green

While the above color combinations are reported by the fashion press as being the current “thing”, locating extant examples for the early 1890s is not as easy. However, we did locate some examples from other years such as these two princess line dresses from the late 1870s in combinations of pale greens and daker blues:

And moving on to a bit later, we have this jacket from 1895:

Skirt Suit Jacket, c. 1895; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.173&A-1969)

And for some yellow and black, here’s a bodice from the late 1890s:

I was not as successful in locating an example of the heliotrope and brown so you’ll just have to use your imaginations there. 🙂 What’s interesting is that while certain colors were said to be in vogue, it was also obvious that reality didn’t always match was was stated and that these were more in the way of general guidelines. Also, pending a more exhaustive study, it’s hard to say if these colors were utilized in dress styles but we simply don’t have any surviving examples or was this more wishful thinking and/or exaggeration on the part of Demorest’s (after all, they were in the business of selling patterns). But there is one thing that could be said with certainty and that is these color combinations were done at one time or another. We don’t pretend to have the definitive answer here but it’s certainly an interesting area to explore further.

 

Parisian Color Trends For Fall 1889

Color is a major element in fashion styles and, as with style in general, it’s constantly in a state of flux. The situation was no different during the Nineteenth Century and while there was no entity like Pantone to constantly monitor the color trends, they were still noted. In the October 1889 issue of Peterson’s Magazine, it was noted that:

The newest color of the season is a rich deep shade of chaudron-red, which has been christened Eiffel-color, after the famous tower of the Exhibition. It is supposed to be of the same hue as the red-painted iron-work of that stupendous edifice, since its tint has been mellowed and modified by the weather. Green, except in the dark-emerald shade, has gone entirely out of vogue. Yellow, in the warm golden tones, will be a good deal used for trimmings,

Probably the most interesting comment is about “chaudron-red” which is a mash-up of French and English for “cauldron red” (or Eiffel Red) and it describes the original color that the Eiffel Tower was painted when it was first erected for the Paris Exhibition of 1889. The original paint was meant as a protective coating and had a copper-red color because of its active ingredient, iron oxide, which gives the paint its protective quality, preventing rust to the steel that made up the Eiffel Tower’s construction (even to this day, iron oxide paint is used for treating steel beams). So what did this look like? Probably something like this:

Interestingly enough, recently, when it’s time to repaint the Eiffel Tower in 2021, it has been suggested that it be repainted in the original chaudron-red, similar to the shade depicted above. So far, the French Ministry of Culture has not made a decision…

Besides “Eiffel Red,” it’s noted that green is completely out except in a dark emerald shade, perhaps along these lines:

And for yellow something like these:

And now well things together with some examples of the above colors at work, starting with this evening dress from Maison Worth:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.59.20)

James McCreary & Co., Visiting Dress, c. 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail of Cuff

Both of the above dress examples incorporate many of the colors noted in Peterson’s although we must note that there are also plenty of examples where other colors were used; in fashion there’s never any absolutes, just broad generalizations. We hoped you have enjoyed this brief excursion into trending colors of 1889 and stay tuned for more in the future. 🙂

 

 

And For A Little Color…

Dior has always been a source of inspiration for us, both in style and color. Today, we came across these views from Dior’s Fall 2018 Couture Collection:

The color palette is simply exquisite, consisting of a series of cool shapes of green, and here’s the requisite palette:

All of the above colors are appropriate for the late 19th Century and here’s just a few examples from extant dresses:

Ballgown, Worth, 1898; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1324a, b)

Felix, Day Dress, c. 1889; Albany Museum of History and Art (u1973.69ab)

Worth, Ballgown, 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.68.53.11a, b)

Worth, Day Dress, c. 1890 – 1893; Kerry Taylor Auctions

Tea Dress, Worth c. 1895; Palais Galliera (GAL1964.20.4)

Now that’s some color inspiration! 🙂