Mantles- 1880s Style

When building a period wardrobe, outerwear such as mantles are often overlooked even though they were a key element in just about any lady’s wardrobe. Broadly speaking, mantles are a lineal descendant of cloaks and shawls and as such, are basically a more refined version of these loose garments, designed to follow the lines of the underlying dress. One of the most distinctive characteristics of 1880s mantles was that the front was cut significantly longer than in the read in order to accommodate the bustle/train of the dress. To begin, here’s an example from circa 1875 made from a Kashmir/Paisley shawl:

Mantle, c. 1875; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.85)

Kashmir/Paisley shawls were extremely popular as outerwear during the 1850s and 1860s but were not always the easiest to wear due to their large size and especially with a trained dress. Many of these older shawls were converted to more manageable mantles during the 1870s. The above example is relatively loose which goes together with some of the exaggerated bustles/trains characteristic of early 1870s styles. Here’s an example from circa 1884 that continues this trend:

Mantle, c. 1884; Victoria and Albert Museum (T.43-1957)

But the choice of fabric was not limited to Kashmir/Paisley; other fabrics were utilized with velvet being a major favorite:

Mantle, c. 1880s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.50.36)

The above example is a more loosely fitted example with wide sleeves and a lot of ease in the front. In the example below, we see a more tailored version with a peplum running along the bottom. In this profile, one can see that the back is cut to accommodate the prominent bustle characteristic of the later 1880s. Also, one can see a more structured, rigid sleeve setting the lower arm at a 90 degree angle; this was often referred to as a “sling sleeve.”

Mantle, c. 1885; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.299-1983)

The mantle front often had a long length as with this example:

Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.337)

Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.337)

To get a better idea of scale, here’s a picture of the mantle being worn over a dress:

View of mantle worn over a dress.

And for something a little different, here’s an illustration from the January 1880 issue of Peterson’s Magazine:

Here we see a mantle with the cylindrical silhouette characteristic of the Mid-Bustle Era. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any actual extant examples so illustrations will have to do. Here’s a couple more variations on the basic design:

The above is just a mere fraction of the possibilities with mantles- with just one or two basic shapes, one can create a wide variety of mantles utilizing all manner of fabrics and trim and that’s exactly what we’re going to be doing in the future. 🙂

And Still More 1890s Style…(We’re On A Roll Here)

Yes, we’re on a roll here…it seems to be shaping up into 1890s week (or maybe month). Here’s another great dress we came across while looking for something completely different (funny how that always seems to happen). For today’s consideration is this ball gown that was made by Pingat sometime around 1894:

Pingat, Ball Gown, c. 1894; Museum of Fine Arts Boston (56.816)

Rear View

As ball gowns go, this is a relatively simple design with a minimum of trim (mostly beading on the front bodice), relying instead on combinations of lace, and silk satin to achieve its effect.  With roses strategically placed on the skirt front, collar and shoulder, there are pops of color that offset the blush pink/ivory silk satin. The gigot sleeves combined with gored skirt definitely place this dress safely in the mid-1890s and create the classic hourglass style that was typical of the period. Overall, as with many of Pingat’s designs, this is elegant and clean and would definitely make an excellent bridal gown. Although best know for his outerwear, Pingat also produced many elegant dress designs- ball gowns, evening/reception dresses and day dresses and this is just one excellent example.

In The UK – Part 2

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After a short break, we decided to head east to Soho and check out a few of the fabric stores that we’d previous planned for. Our first stop was MacCulloch & Wallis. There was a variety of fabrics available mostly focused on cottons and silk, (although there was also a wool section) and while much wasn’t anything we couldn’t obtain here in LA, there were some stand-outs that caught our eye:

London Fabric

There were a number of cotton/silk brocades in a variety of colors as seen above. Here’s a sampling of what we bought:

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Adam London

Checking out the fabrics at MacCulloch & Wallis…

London Cloth House

Our next stop was the Cloth House. Although the store was small (everything is small in London, it seems… 🙂 ), it was packed with some interesting fabrics, primarily cottons and cotton/silk mixes (or so it seemed). We didn’t a lot that was useful but the few things we did find were exquisite but unfortunately, almost none of them were available in enough quantity for a dress length- apparently they stock most of their fabrics in 5 meter increments so if your timing is off, you’re out of luck (although they can restock on some fabrics). Here are a couple of cotton prints we walked away with…can you sense the “Liberty London” vibe here? 🙂

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Next, while we weren’t specifically looking for wool, we walked into Borovick Fabrics on a whim and walked out with this beautiful plaid:

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The nice think about this wool is that it’s a medium weight and it will work for Southern California- normally, there’s simply no real opportunities to wear wool, at least not like in the UK. We bought enough yardage for a complete sack suit and vest… 🙂 And then we decided to take a break at the local Cafe Nero before moving on….

(To be continued….)

In The UK – Part 1

London

After a somewhat uncomfortable 10 1/2-hour flight (that will teach us to ignore the advice on seatguru.com), we made it into Heathrow and were quickly whisked away to our hotel in Kensington. As luck would have it, we arrived at the tail-end of some warm weather with clear skies and zero possibility of rain. 🙂 After some issues with the hotel room (it turns out that there is no air conditioning allowed in historic “listed buildings” above the ground floor, we got everything sorted out and we were ready to hit the town running.

The next morning, we decided to start out somewhat slow by heading over to the V&A Museum for a quick once-over. We were hoping to get into the Frida Kahlo exhibit but you need special tickets to get in and they were all sold out so we contented ourselves touring some of the regular galleries. Unfortunately, most of the better 19th Century costumes are in storage and there’s not a lot on display so it was a bit disappointing though not unexpected (we were hoping that they’d at least rotate a few items).

Although we’ve commented on this before, one of the best stand-outs was this dolman made in 1885 by Pingat:

V&A Museum Dolman Jacket Pingat 1885

Here are a some more views, courtesy of the V&A:

Pingat Dolman 1885

Pingat, Dolman/Jacket; V&A Museum (T.64-1976)

Pingat Dolman 1885

This bodice from 1895 also caught our eye:

V&A Museum Bodice 1895

Unfortunately, getting good pictures are is difficult when the items are behind glass but here are some better views, courtesy of the V&A:

Bodice 1895

Guiquin, L, Bodice, 1895; V&A Museum (T.271&A-1972)

Bodice 1895

Three-Quarter Front View

Bodice 1895

Close-up of upper sleeve.

Although it’s easy to miss because the bodice is behind glass, the silk fabric and trim are very pleasing and especially the silk brocade sleeve treatment. It’s very subtle but adds a depth both in texture and luster. It’s too bad that the skirt is not available for view- it would have made for a beautiful dress- the bodice is only a hint. 🙂

Finally, we end with this fan from Ronot-Tutin that was created c. 1890-1900:

V&A Museum

Stay tuned as we head to Soho for some fabric shopping… 🙂

Now That’s A Wrap!

Living in Southern California and the Southwest in general, it’s easy to get spoiled with all the great weather- warm, sunny, and few or no clouds. Rain is relatively infrequent so it’s usually something we just don’t think about. Well, it hit us that England is quite the opposite and especially when it comes to rain so we had to do a slight re-think about our wardrobe for the Victorian Ball in Bath and that means a cape. 🙂

Karin Atelier Cloak Mantle

What to do? Obviously an evening cloak of some sort but since we’ve never really needed one in the past, it’s not something that I’ve given much thought to so it was time to a little research into evening cloaks…so here’s some of the many examples I found:

Cloak Pingat c. 1888 - 1890

Emile Pingat, Evening Cloak, c. 1888 – 1890; Metropolitan Museum of Art

This opera cloak made by Pingat in circa 1882 especially caught my eye- the combination of fur and feathers combined with the floral design decoration ivory silk satin is simply stunning.

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

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

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Side Profile

Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Three-Quarter Rear View

And here’s the cloak worn over a dress:

Emile Pingat Opera Cloak c. 1882

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Emile Pingat, Cloak, c. 1879 – 1880; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.60.6.7)

Cloak Pingat c. 1879 - 1880

Three-Quarter Rear View

Cloak Mantle Pingat c. 1891

Emile Pingat, Mantle, c. 1891; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.2007.211.38)

Interestingly enough, In my search, it seemed that the most striking examples were those may by Emile Pingat and after some thought, we decided that a full-length cloak would be the most effective and practical design, especially given that my ball gown is a Mid-Bustle Era design so after going through my collection of original patterns, I came up with one from the early 1890s that I could modify:

Karin Cloak

Angus,  our creative consultant checks out the faux fur, trying to determine what animal it came from…

Karin Cloak

Curved gores follow the shape of the underlying ball gown.

Karin Mantle Cloak

Here’s a good view of the corded floral design.

We’ve used a pale blue silk satin and lined it in ivory silk moire. The cloak is also trimmed in a faux fur (primarily to avoid issues with potential vermin infestation). The cloak is still under construction but we’ll be finished soon and when we are we’ll post some more views here. 🙂