Modes Pour La Plage – 1870s Style

Seaside fashion has always been a theme in 19th Century fashion and a a standard feature in most fashion journals of the time. Much of what’s depicted in fashion plates of the late 19th Century that’s labeled “seaside” are really no more than conventional warm weather styles that could just as easily be used in a variety of settings and there’s nothing really uniquely “seaside” about them and in fact, some seem pretty elaborate for an outdoor setting by the beach. But, fashion is always interesting even if the context is a bit muddied:

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 32, August 1876

The above plate is interesting on a few levels- from the background, it appears that the two ladies are talking to a man in front of what can only be changing sheds, judging from all the clothes on the rail. We suspect that it’s more about the men changing into clothes more suitable for going in the water… Style-wise, we see the Mid-Bustle/Natural Form Era in full flower with the dress on the left wearing a Directoire style bodice/coat worn with a trained skirt. The use  of vertical lines on the coat/bodice and the horizontal trim stripes on the skirt are an interesting combination that’s not often seen. The dress on the right is a bit more conventional with a polonaise worn over a plain trained skirt. The Polonaise is combined with a matching apron/short overskirt, creating an interesting silhouette. Of course, we speculating here a little and we wonder if this was ever actually constructed.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 27, July 1876

With the dress on the left, long pleats and outline trim accentuates the demi-train.  The cuirass bodice sweeps below the hips, further accentuating the overall silhouette. The dress on the right has a smaller train and instead places emphasis on vertical lines, especially the two revers running along the bodice front.

Le Moniteur De La Mode, No. 36, September 1876

In the above plate, the dress on the left seems to be a compromise style where the hip bustle and train have not been completely abandoned. Also, the elaborate tassel trim running along the overskirt give the dress a more busy appearance, distracting somewhat from the overall silhouette. The dress on the right follows a princess line, de-emphasizing the hip and waist and placing the focus on the front and lower skirt with a combination of large bows and pleating.

Of course, the above dress styles would work in a number of environments other than just the beach but it must be noted that these are fashion plates, which by their very definition are meant to depict idealized fashions in idealized locations. Basically, they’re more about fantasy and that fantasy in turn generates sales. But in spite of the fantasy element, these plates are an interesting illustration of Mid-Bustle style. One final note- efforts were made to devise more practical beach wear but it was going to be a lengthy process; for more on this, check here.

 



Un Portrait de Emile Pingat

A few years ago, one of Emile Pingat’s descendants was kind enough to send us a picture of a younger Emile Pingat. It was a touching moment and it’s one of our most treasured memories. Recently we came across this post so we thought that we’d give it a little volume. Enjoy! 🙂


We have been blessed by an early portrait of Emile Pingat that was kindly sent to us by one of our readers, M. Jacques Noel, who is a descendant of M. Pingat. M. Noel gave us permission to post the picture here and we are very grateful, anything pertaining to one of the foremost couturiers during the late 19th Century.

Emile Pingat

An early portrait of Emile Pingat; Courtesy of Jacques Noel, jacnoel21@gmail.com

Pingat was famous for the sheer luxury of his designs, utilizing the best fabrics to create styles that, in our opinion, surpass those of Worth. Although we have discussed M. Pingat in prior posts, here’s just a sample of his work:

From day dresses…

Pingat1 1885

Reception Dress, Emile Pingat, c. 1885; Shelburne Museum (2010-75)

Pingat1 1885

Emile Pingat, Dinner Dress, c. 1883 – 1885; Smith College Historic Clothing Collection (1989.1.3ab)

To outerwear…

Pingat 1

Pingat, Evening Jacket, 1893; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.139)

Pingat Opera Cape1

Opera Cape, Emile Pingat, c. 1882; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.42.13)

To something more formal…

Pingat7

Pingat4

The above is just a small sampling of Pingat’s work and we salute him.  🙂



 

Fashion Inspiration- The Tissot Shipboard Dress

Enjoying the cool sea breezes at the Getty Villa during our recent excursion definitely energized me and it too me back to one of my major sources of inspiration, James Tissot and his especially his nautical-themed paintings and it takes me back to an earlier post… 🙂


Karin Tissot

Lately, James Tissot has been a major source of inspiration for some of my designs. Check out the brunette. Pretty curves, cotton batiste gown is weighed down with a hem of pleats, ruffles, ruches, and two huge silk sash bows in the back. When I realized I had an original bonnet like hers…well, you get the picture. 🙂 Below are a few pictures of my take on the Tissot shipboard dress:

Karin

Bonnet is original, complete with cobalt silk ribbons and silver medallions

Karin

Gown is completely hand finished, except for construction seams. It’s weightless, my corset is heavier than the gown!

Karin

So I forgot to prune…

Karin

Enter a caption



 

La Robe De Soir

The Kyoto Costume Institute has some amazing items in their collection including this circa 1902 evening dress/ball gown (where one ends and the other begins can sometimes be a bit ambiguous). Unfortunately, we don’t know much about this except to say that it’s definitely reflects early 1900s style and uses an artfully arranged combination of lace and fashion fabric (no doubt a silk satin). The pink-colored silk satin fashion fabric has a series of vertical stripes along with two vine-like lines that appear to be beaded/jeweled.

Evening Dress, c. 1902; Kyoto Costume Institute

But what’s more striking is how the fashion fabric’s hem has been cut so as to mimic a leaf, longer in the front (and presumably the back) and shortening on the sides. Framing this is a layer of ivory lace that forms a complete underskirt (and no doubt backed with a lining). The bodice also has a layer of the same lave draped across the front. This is a brilliant style and we only wish that were more pictures available. We hope you’ve enjoyed this little pop of fashion history. 🙂



 

La Mille et Deuxième Nuits

Fantastical events and “happenings” as a means of pumping up publicity have been a staple of the fashion world for generations and while they may seem somewhat overdone in our era of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, they were a fresh idea back in Poret’s day and went a long way towards introducing new fashions. In this post, we consider one of the first fashion events that was staged by couturier Paul Poiret and ushered in a new era in fashion history. Enjoy! 🙂


Poiret Sultan

Publicity has always been a part of the fashion world and it’s the fashion world’s life blood. Paul Poiret was one of the first couturiers to actively utilize publicity as a marketing tool on a large scale and one of his most notable efforts was the 1002 Nights or Persian Celebration that he staged on June 24, 1911. Poiret intended the event as a launch for his brand of perfumes under the “Rosine” label, named after his eldest daughter.

Rosine Poiret

 

But there was more to the event than simply promoting perfume, he was also promoting his entire line of Oriental-themed fashions and in particular, the jupe cullotte or harem pants style. Harem pants (or any kind of pants for women) represented a radical departure in fashion and was considered by many to be scandalous- it was considered tantamount to being naked.

Lepape’s illustration ‘La fete Persane’, most likely Paul and Denise Poiret’s “The Thousand and Second Night” party, 1912

Georges Lepape, La Fête Persane, 1912; attributed to the 1002 Night

So, let’s take a closer look at the jupe culotte…here’s one of the more iconic examples that was worn to the 1002 Nights:

Jupe Culotte1

Paul Poiret, Jupe Culotte, 1911; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983.8a, b)

Jupe Culotte2 Poiret

Jupe Culotte3 Poiret

Close-Up View

Jupe Culotte4 Poiret

What is especially interesting was the theatrical element to the 1002 Nights. The event was held at Poiret’s 18th Century mansion at 26 Avenue d’Antin1Recent research on our part seems to point towards Poiret actually staging this event at a rented mansion in another part of Paris- see the postscript. and Poiret invited some 300 people, making it explicitly clear that everyone was expected to wear Persian dress (if they didn’t have any, a suitable outfit would be provided at the entrance before they were allowed to enter). Poiret provided a feast accompanied by some 900 liters of Champagne along with all manner of entertainments.

1911 Paul & Denise Poiret 1002 party with Denise being released from her golden cage

The centerpiece of the 1002 Nights was Poiret’s wife Denise modeling the new jupe cullotte style, sitting in a large golden cage with Poiret taking the part of a sultan. The finale of the show was when at an appointed time, Poiret then made a big show of “releasing” Denise from her cage:

George Le Pape, "Denise Poiret at The Thousand and Second Night Party" : Paul Poiret designed this ensemble for his wife to wear to his infamous "Thousand and Second Night" party in Paris, 1911. in Paris, 1911

George Le Pape, Denise Poiret at The Thousand and Second Night Party, 1911

The 1002 Nights was a huge success and was widely reported in the press. Although Poiret denied that he’d staged the party as a publicity stunt, it was evident that it had been just exactly that and the publicity led to a subsequent explosion in sales of Poiret’s Oriental-inspired fashions.

1911 Denise and Paul Poiret at the 1002 night party

Denise and Paul Poiret at the 1002 Nights

In contrast to earlier couturiers, Poiret was a consummate showman and constantly strove to attract the public’s attention to his designs and for a long time he was successful. Unfortunately, the First World War was an interruption that Poiret never full recovered from and while Oriental themes still informed his designs, the public had moved on, favoring more simple designs that were being put forth by Chanel and others.


Postscript:

From what we can determine, the event may have occurred at a mansion located at 109 rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré (in the 8th Arrondissement) that he rented from a friend, an art dealer by the name of Henri Barbazanges. From checking on Google Maps, the location is currently occupied by some type of commercial building- whatever mansion that has been there is long gone. This location actually makes a little more sense in that the address is larger than the one at 26 Avenue d’Antin but again, only more research will tell and my French language skills are not the best. If anyone out there has better information, by all means comment. 🙂