Trending For The Late 1870s- A Look At The Princess Line Dress

As many of you might have figured out already, we at Lily Absinthe have a love for the Mid-Bustle period and we’re always returning to it for commentary. Don’t get us wrong, we love all the styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries but the silhouette of the Mid-Bustle period of the late 1870s continues to draw our attention. Maybe it’s the upright sculpted lines or perhaps the various fabrics and colors, it’s hard to say. And then, there’s the subset of the princess line style, the focus of today’s post- executed correctly, it’s an aesthetic joy to behold. So without further adieu, here we are… Enjoy!


Today we return to the Mid-Bustle Era to take a look at some interesting examples of the princess line style. With its long horizontal lines and lack of a waist seam, the princess line style was especially suited for the “natural form” aesthetic, especially with its low train and lack of a bustle. First up is this example from circa 1876:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Dinner Dress, c. 1876; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.227.3)

Here’s a close-up of the bodice:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Side Profile

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Rear View

And here’s a view of the upper hem:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Close-up of hem.

Here we see knife pleating combined with bow attached to what appears to be beaded cables. It’s hard to determine just what exactly the bow are made of. Above the upper hem line, we also catch a glimpse of the silk brocade fashion fabric. Here’s a close-up of the fashion fabric which appears to be a silk brocade composed of a combination of French blue and gold:

Dinner Dress c. 1876

Close-up of fashion fabric.

Overall, it’s an incredible dress with a luminescent color combination and very clean princess lines. Next, for a little contrast, we have this example from circa 1876-1880 (although the original auction site had this labeled at 1874, we believe that date is too early):

Side Profile

Rear View

In terms of silhouette, this example is somewhat less “sculpted” (although this may be due to poor staging) and features a more conventional two-color combination of a dark teal silk velvet combined with a light mint green/celedon silk and incorporating lace trim on the front and lower hem to frame the velvet. The low train is typical of the Mid-Bustle style, characterized by a low demi-train. Below is a close-up of the train:

The train is fairly standard with one row of knife pleating running along the hem accented by a strip of teal piping running along the tip. Below are some views of the skirt:

Finally, here are some views of the bodice:

Although the colors are faded and the velvet has worn down, it’s still an interesting color combination. Based on the use of a two-color scheme for the fabric, we would be inclined to date this a bit towards 1876-1877. We hope you have enjoyed this little excursion in the princess line style of the Mid-Bustle Era and we’ll be featuring more in future posts. 🙂

And For A Little Early 90s…

We are amazed at some of the various extant periods garments that we have accidentally come across over the years. Here’s a reception dress from the early 1890s that we recently discovered on website for the Goldstein Museum of Design:

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Reception Dress, c. 1890; Goldstein Museum of Design (2013.004.012)

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Three-quarter frontal view, right.

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Side Profile

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Rear View – For a moment, this appeared to be the front but it’s not, rather it’s almost a mirror image of the front.

Style-wise, this dress has an outer later consisting of a robe-like silk brocade combined with an underlayer consisting of a black silk underskirt and green silk bodice with black lace trim. The collar has a feather-like trim all around combined with black jet beading. The silhouette has a somewhat upright, cylindrical appearance characteristic of 1890s styles and the outer layer with its vertical lines further emphasizes the vertical aspects. While the overall effect suggests the princess line, it’s hard to discern if the underlayer has a waist seem- the lace provides obscures this. Here are some close-up views:

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

View of upper front bodice.

This frontal view shows off the sleeve caps nicely- we see a somewhat restrained version of the gigot sleeves characteristic of 1890s style. Based on the size, we would be inclined to date this dress from early 1890s, perhaps 1891-1894, before the extreme sleeve sizes of came into play. The front bodice is constructed as a jacket with wide beaded lapels with green (bordering on chartreuse) silk satin.  Here’s a close-up of the upper bodice front:

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Close-up of bodice.

 The back is just as elaborately constructed as the front:

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

View of upper back.

This view from the upper back reveals that the collar consists of a band of black jet beading combined with black feathers. The center back appears to be a green silk satin covered in net that’s inset between the silk brocade outer fashion fabric.

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Side view of collar.

This side profile nicely shows off the tapering collar. Below is a close-up of the silk brocade fashion fabric; the vertical branches combined with the vertical stripes accentuates the dress’s vertical lines and serve to draw the eye upwards. Definitely a text book use of lines in fashion design. 🙂

Reception Dress c. 1890 Day Dress

Close-up of fashion fabric.

Unfortunately, we were unable to learn much from the museum website so there’s some unanswered questions, especially in regard to construction- not a deal-breaker but it would be nice to know. To conclude, this dress is an extraordinary example of early 1890s style, especially with the fabric selection and color and it provides an interesting alternative example of a reception dress with its layering. This dress is an ideal candidate for replicating. 🙂

Helldorado Days 2018

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It’s October and that means Helldorado Days in Tombstone! This year, Helldorado is scheduled on October 19 through October 21, 2018 and the high point of the event is the parade to he held on Sunday October 21. First started in 1928 to publicize the town, Helldorado is held on the third Sunday of October and commemorates the town’s early years and especially that 30-second gunfight that took place somewhere close by to the OK Corral. We’ll be meeting with clients and otherwise working on some projects and having a little fun. See you there! 🙂

 

And It’s That Time Again- Lily Absinthe Goes To The FIDM Museum, Part 2

12th Annual Art of Television Costume Design

And to wrap things up, here’s some more commentary on our latest trip to view the 12th “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit” at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles. After viewing the wardrobe from The Alienist, we then moved on to viewing the latest wardrobe installment from Game of Thrones:

FIDM Museum

First up is one of Daenary’s winter looks…not your typical medieval fur coat look.

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FIDM Museum

Power dressing for Sansa…

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FIDM Museum

Cersei’s latest look…

And then we saw some interesting outfits from Season 3 of Westworld:

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We have to admit that although we pretty much lost interest in the show after the first season, we did find these costumes compelling from an aesthetic perspective. 🙂 Well, that pretty much concludes our trip to this year’s Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit at the FIDM Museum. We are looking forward to next year’s exhibit.