Another Evening Dress From Maison Worth, Circa 1894

Today we feature another evening dress from Maison Worth, in this case one from circa 1894:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1894; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.1095a, b)

Unfortunately, the pictures haven’t been updated in awhile but from what we can determine, the construction appears to be an ivory or champagne-colored silk brocade or jacquard with a curl motif that runs in vertical stripes up the skirt and then diffuses on the bodice. The upper bodice/neckline and sleeves appear to be a gold/champagne-colored silk velvet decorated with lace. For the silhouette, it definitely reads mid-1890s although it doesn’t precisely follow the typical gigot style of the period; rather, it’s more of puffed sleeves covered with large flaps. It’s an interesting effect and in many ways reminiscent of renaissance style and especially in the way the silk bodice front meets up with the upper velvet neckline.

A big no-no by today’s curatorial standards but it’s nice seeing a Worth dress being worn by a live model (although the dress appears to be somewhat oversized for the model and there’s probably no proper corset on underneath):  🙂

To us, this is one of Worth’s more understated/restrained designs and while it’s by no means a show-stopper, it is elegant and demonstrates an interesting take on mid-1890s style.



Mid-1870s Afternoon Dress Style

Yesterday we took a look at a mid-1870s afternoon dress from Worth. Today we take a look at another afternoon dress from circa 1874-1875 that offers a bit of a contrast:

Afternoon Dress, c. 1874-1875; Metropolitan museum of Art (1979.367.1a, b)

The bodice and skirt are  constructed of what appears to be a light brown silk taffeta combined with a jacquard (more on that below). Turning to the bodice, the body is made of the brocade while the sleeves are made of the light brown taffeta. The rear of the bodice also features jacquard tails that extend over the top of the train/bustle. The cuffs are trimmed with the jacquard and ivory lace (the lace is missing from the left cuff).  The fabrics on the front of the skirt have been shaped so as to create two layers consisting of the jacquard on top of the light brown taffeta, scalloped at the bottom and lying over a base layer of the same light brown taffeta. Decorating the center of the front opening are a series of knots trimmed with the jacquard  and the hem has a row of knife pleating.

As can be seen from the profile view above, the skirt is made of two layers, the inner one extending to the ground with the train consisting of the brocade and the front consisting of jacquard panels covering the light brown taffeta. The outer layer extends down from the waist and over the hips, extending down about one third of the way down consisting primarily of the light brown fabric trimmed with large knots.

In terms of silhouette, this dress reads mid-1870s. Compared to the the 1870-1872 time frame, the train is more tidy and restrained.  Below is a close-up of the cuffs:

The slashing is an interesting decorative touch. Below is are three-quarter and direct rear views of the dress with the bodice and its tails draped over the skirt.

And for a close-up of the jacquard…

By this time you must be wondering just what the jacquard fashion fabric looks like up close- well, you’re in luck:

From the picture, it would appear that the patterned fashion fabric is jacquard- possibly a cotton or cotton/silk blend- and it certainly reads like a tapestry. What’s interesting is that from a distance, the brocade almost appears to be dark gold and gives the dress a richness that contrasts with the light brown taffeta. Compared to the design from Worth we looked at yesterday, this is far more dramatic yet it’s also clumsy, at least in the way the decorative knots are used- they appear to have been somewhat of an afterthought and especially on the sides. But, no matter what we may think, this is still an interesting example of mid-1870s style and especially in the way two contrasting fabrics are manipulated to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts.



Back To The 70s At Maison Worth

Today we take a trip back to the 70s…the 1870s, that is, and more specifically circa 1874 with this afternoon dress from Worth:

Worth, Afternoon Dress, c. 1874; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1975.259.2a, b)

This afternoon dress utilizes the two-color combination style that was typical of early to mid-1870s dresses, consisting of black silk taffeta bodice and outer skirt combined with a pale green/mint green silk taffeta underskirt. What is interesting here is that the bodice and skirts have been cut so as to give the effect of a long robe that opens wide to dramatically reveal the green underskirt. Also, while it’s not easy to make out, the bodice is designed with an underlayer of the same green color- it’s hard to say if it’s a faux vest or simply an inset underlayer. Finally, the neck and front outer bodice edges and cuffs are trimmed with ivory lace. Below is a close-up of the bodice:

The silhouette is fairly standard for the early to mid-1870s and its lines are pretty clean, especially when compared to many 1870s day/afternoon dresses. Note that both sides of the outer skirt are piped with the light green fabric.

The bodice back has a set of carefully sculpted tails that serve to emphasize the train and each tail is emphasized with an outline of the green fabric (which also appears to be the lining color for the tails). Below is a close-up:

Below are some more detailed views of the skirts. It’s interesting that the “outer” and “inner” skirts are really one unit:

Finally, below is a view of the detail where the outer and inner skirts meet:

Compared to many of Worth’s designs, this one is relatively simple emphasizing clean lines with a minimum of trim. In many respects it almost reads “tea gown” although it’s far more substantial and was clearly intended for wear out in public. We’ll have some more interesting 1870s dress styles to show you in the near future so stay tuned! 🙂



Taking A Look Back At The 70s

The 1870s, that is! 🙂 Below is one extremely interesting example of  Early Bustle Era style from circa 1872-1875 that epitomizes many of the style elements of early 1870s style:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Day Dress, c. 1872 – 1875; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1986.304a, b)

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Side Profile

Daydress c. 1872 - 1875

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Three-quarter rear profile.

This dress is an interesting combination of a lavender silk brocade combined with silk satin gold stripe panels edged in red that run along the lower underskirt and hem as well as an edging for the overskirt; the same treatment is also found on the bodice and sleeve cuffs. What’s also interesting is that the gold striping acts to frame the overskirt and the bodice making for a bright contrast with the more subdued lavender fashion fabric. Here are some close-ups of the various fabrics:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of the fashion fabric.

Looking closer at the fashion fabric, one can see a pattern of white dots with red/green/white floral(?) elements in between. At a distance, the floral elements appear to be gold, an effect no doubt influenced by the higher luster gold striping. Also, it’s interesting that on the lower underskirt, the fashion fabric has been cut on the bias, presenting the white dot stripes on the diagonal.

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of hem.

Next, let’s take a look at one of the sleeve cuffs which gives us some more detail about the gold stripes. It would appear that the gold silk satin stripes are overlaid on an orange/red fabric (appears to also be silk satin). Style-wise, the turn-back cuffs are 18th Century inspired with the rows of buttons and exaggerated button holes and nicely complement the rest of the dress.

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of sleeve cuff.

Finally, here’s a view of the dress in a more natural display:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

From this view, one can see the bottom of the bodice whose lines are more angular along the bottom than the usual smooth curves which was more the norm. What is also striking is the long line of buttons and associated detail running along the edge of the overskirt, serving to draw the eye. Here’s a closer view:

Daydress c. 1872 - 1875

Finally, here’s a view of the upper skirt and waistband:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of upper skirt/waistband.

Here we see that part of the trained/bustled effect was achieved through artfully contrived loops and buttons. It’s hard to tell but from this angle, it appears that this is the underskirt. Overall, this is a nice example of the early 1870s style and is actually a bit restrained in terms of yardage and the train/bustle effect- many dresses of this era seemed to have been designed with the idea of cramming as much yardage as possible into the train, thus making the wearer look like they’re overstuffed couch. The one that we especially like is it’s pristine condition (well, it IS the Met Museum, after all!) and clean lines. This one is certainly an inspiration, both in terms of colors and fabrics and style.



And Something From Maison Worth

Maison Worth has always been a source of inspiration for us and we’re always on the lookout for new (at least to us) designs. Recently, we came across this circa 1902 ball gown/evening dress (the boundary between dress types often seems to be a bit fluid). Unfortunately, not a lot of information is available on it (the Europeana website is a dysfunctional mess) so we’ll have to rely on the pictures themselves. We first start with back and front views:

Worth, Ball Gown, c. 1902; Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti via Europeana Fashion

A floral theme is definitely the focus of this dress style with the an ivory/cream silk satin embroidered with a gold floral pattern. The bottom third of the dress is covered in what appears to be a lace overlay decorated with gold-colored metallic spangles (no doubt these are probably stamped from steel). The bottom lace overlay is blended into the overall design motif and gives the appearance of the flowers and vines emerging from a forest ground cover. In terms of silhouette, this dress follows the graceful lines characteristic of Maison Worth during the late 1890s/early 1900s and the train is graceful but not overpowering. Below is a close-up of the skirt:

Below is a close-up of the lace overlay:

The bodice is an extension of the overall decorative effect, combining the floral and ground cover motifs. The shoulders are given some emphasis with blush-colored tulle and gold-colored lace on the sleeves creates a sleeve effect. Finally, we see sink silk satin running along the neckline and shouldered which combined with the pink sash, create a harmonious three-color combination of pink, gold, and ivory. Below is a close-up of the bodice:

This dress is another nice example of Maison Worth’s designs and follows a similar vein as some of their other works:

Worth, Evening Dress, c. 1902; Fashion Museum Bath

Worth, Evening Gown, c. 1895; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2003.288.1-2)

Stay tuned for more!