A Day In The Country…

While we were away in England, we had the opportunity to visit The Vyne, an historic manor house located close to Basingstoke in Hampshire. Originally built between 1500 and 1520 for William Sandys, Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, the house was later acquired in 1653 by Chaloner Chute, a successful barrister and remained in the Chute family until it was acquired by the National Trust. Over the years, the house has been progressively added onto and is a pastiche of various styles ranging from early Tudor through the 19th Century. One of the most interesting aspects is that the house contained a small chapel, complete with stained glass windows.Β  The day we visited, it was cold, windy, and overcast but that didn’t deter us any, we managed to get a number of very nice pictures.

First is the exterior:

This is the back side of the main house. To the left is an outbuilding.

The front of the house.

The Vyne Tudor Mansion, National Trust

Here’s a better view of the house, courtesy of the National Trust.

And now some of the interior:

And now for us… πŸ™‚

A little humor for the camera…my reaction after receiving the latest bill from Charles Worth.

Yes, it’s all mine (or so I’d like to believe)…

Karin modeling her latest creation- a late 1880s day dress.

Visiting The Vyne was one of the major high points of our visit to England and it was definitely worth braving the cold and damp. The estate provided a wonderful backdrop for picture-taking and we only wish that the weather had permitted us to get some more pictures of us outside. We would definitely love to visit again in the Spring when the all the plants are in full bloom. All in all, a special day. πŸ™‚

Our Latest Visit to the V&A Museum

One of the high points of any trip to London is spending a little time visiting the V&A Museum and this past visit was no exception. What was a real stand-out for us this time was viewing some textiles and garments from South Asia. Here’s just a few examples:

This one is a chintz dating from the 18th Century which was essentially a glazed cotton print fabric that was originally made in India. This fabric was exported to England in quantity and it quickly caught on as a fashion fabric to the point where manufacturers in England was producing cheap knock-offs. The fabric was used to make this waistcoat from circa 1770-1775:

Waistcoat, c. 1770-1775; V&A Museum (IS.20-1976)

And here’s a close-up of one of the buttonholes:

This mantle/cape was also interesting:

Unfortunately, we were unable to find out more about it- there wasn’t any sort of card explaining it (or we might have just missed it). Here’s another interesting dress:

Unfortunately, all I could get was the side profile. Here are some other views I obtained from the V&A Museum website:

Gown, c. 1770s, reworked 1790s; V&A Museum (IS.3-1948)

Most of these fabrics were prints, although there was also a few that were embroidered such as this one:

And of course, we visited the regular costume collection… πŸ™‚ In particular, the this Salvador Dali-inspired dress by Schiaparelli caught our eye:

And of course, we had to hit the bookstore:

This barely scratched the surface of what’s there at the V&A and we learn something new every time we go. For a little more, check out this post and this post.Β  If you’re in London, the V&A is definitely worth a visit. πŸ™‚

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 EraΒ 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.Β 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. πŸ™‚

Just In From Maison Worth…

Worth Bodice c. 1900

Recently, we acquired for our collection a circa early 1880s bodice from an evening gown that was made by Maison Worth. Constructed of an ivory/mushroom-colored cut silk velvet, we believe that this bodice dates from the early 1880s and it’s in fairly good condition even though the piping and trim were removed from the edges somewhere along the line. Unfortunately, we have only the bodice but it must have been an elegant dress back in the day. Here are a few pictures:

Worth Bodice c. 1900

Front View

Worth Bodice c. 1900

Rear View

Essentially, the bodice laced up in the front and it has tiny, hand-stitched eyelets. We can’t imagine the time it would take having to sew those in by hand… πŸ™‚ Here’s some views of one of the sleeves:

The sleeves are three-quarter in length and what’s interesting is that they’re shaped at the elbow so that they’re set at an angle. It’s hard to make out but when you handle them in person, it’s very obvious. And now for some interior views:

Worth Bodice c. 1900

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As with all of Worth’s gowns, the construction and seam finishes are first rate and with this bodice, each of the seams are also boned, probably with thin baleen. Overall, this is a fascinating example and it’s going to provide us with many hours of study. πŸ™‚