And For A Little More Victorian Style Color…

As a follow-up to our previous post on harmonizing colors, we offer some more thoughts on the subject of color and Victorian style. Generally speaking, dresses could take one of two basic forms when it came to color: all one solid color (i.e. monochromatic) or combinations of two or more colors. The concept of the one-color dresses is pretty straight-forward:

Day Dress, 1877; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2432a, b)

Day Dress, European or American, circa 1885; Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

Liberty & Co. (attributed), Ballgown, c. 1880s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.155)

Maison Truffert, San Francisco, Evening Dress/Ball Gown, c. 1894 – 1896; Augusta Auctions

Worth, Ball Gown, c. 1896; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1982.299a, b)

But the use of a single color could also take the form of a patterned fabric:

Day Dress, 1885; V&A Museum (T.7&A-1926)

Day Dress, c. 1880; The Museum at FIT (P92.21.1)

Day dresses were more likely to be found in one color than ball gowns and evening dresses but in either case, using one color tended to give a somewhat flat look to the the dress so often lace trim, patterned material such as embroidery, or some other decorative effect was utilized to counter this. Below are several examples of this:

Worth, Ballgown, 1889; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.68.53.11a, b)

Worth, Ballgown, c. 1894; Kyoto Costume Institute (AC4799 84-9-2AB)

Day Dress, c. 1880s; Fashion History Museum Ontario

Lace was often employed to add dimension and depth:

Day Dress, c. 1894 – 1896; FIDM Museum (S2006.870.22AB)

In some cases, dresses employed a combination of plain and patterned fabrics, all in the same basic color such as with this dress:

Day Dress, c. 1885; Walsall Museums (WASMG : 1976.0832)

More common in dresses was the use of a combination of colors which usually took the form of different colored fabrics for the under and over skirts or the bodice and hem:

Worth, Ensemble-/Reception Dress/Evening Bodice, c. 1877 – 1878; Cincinnati Art Museum (1986.1200a-c)

Day Dress, Mid 1890s; Augusta Auctions, Museum of the City of New York Deaccession.

Bourdereau Veron & Cie, Place de la Bourse, Paris, Day Dress, c. 1893; Kent State University Museum (1983.1.207 ab)

Often, stripes and/or patterns were also employed in the color combination:

Day Dress, Emile Pingat, French, c. 1874; Philadelphia Museum of Art (1938-18-12a,b)

Here’s a couple examples of more complex use of color combinations. In the dress on the left, solid light and dark blue are combined with a patterned fabric that’s also predominantly blue. On the right, red with floral embroidery is combined with solid colored white/ivory lace.

In this example below, a solid black underskirt is combined with a bodice/overskirt of dark green striped black silk with floral appliques. Black beading and feathers further accentuate the color combination:

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

Outer garments could also provide an added element to the color combination as with the figure on the left with a wine/burgundy-colored mantle with celadon trim that matched the solid celadon-colored dress. The figure on the right demonstrates  a combination of ivory-colored lace and solid pink:

Color combinations could even take the forms of stripes and patterns:

Day Dress, c. 1875; Bunka Gakuen Costume Museum

And probably one of the most dramatic uses of two colors can be found with this ball gown that utilizes just stripes:

Doucet, Ball Gown, c. 1890; Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina (1998.13A-B)

Pops of color could also be used as part of a color combination. In the example below, an ivory-colored front under bodice and center underskirt grabs the eye:

Worth, Day Dress, c. 1890 – 1893; Kerry Taylor Auctions

And on a larger scale, the use of the red as a color pop goes a long way towards making this evening dress an eye-catcher:

Worth, Evening Ensemble Dress, 1893; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.622a–c)

The above illustrations gives only a small hint at the combinations and methods that were employed in utilizing color and it’s clear that while pure colors (e.g., one colored fabric with another) could be employed in combination, the combination could also take the form of striped or patterned fabrics, lace, and/or other trims in various colors. More importantly, it’s not just about layer colors, but it’s about layering colors in varying textures and luster to create a garment that projects depth and ultimately a life of its own.

And For Some More Originals…

LBD*, circa most likely 1898 with those smaller sleeve puffs at the shoulder and that interesting shirred silk brocade contrast arm gusset that matches the applied collar pieces. Someone tried to steal some of her inner boning before she came to live with us, but that assault allows us to politely inspect her insides. Don’t you love that pretty cotton print on the inside and those precise hand stitches for her Hong Kong finishes? She’s not a mourning bodice, she was somebody’s special gown that glittered with every graceful corseted turn. I like to think she’s seen a lot of happy occasions and deserves the love we can give her. She’s definitely on my “must pattern her” list! 🙂

*Little Black Dress- term made famous by Coco Chanel

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… 🙂 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. 🙂

 

Sapphire…

Image result for sapphire color

Fall colors traditionally focus on earth tones but for us here at Lily Absinthe, we take a broader view… Recently, jewel tones have caught our eye and especially in Sapphire as with this circa 1880s evening dress from Maison Worth: 🙂

Whittaker Auctions1 Evening Gown c. 1880s

Front Three-Quarter View

Whittaker Auctions1 Evening Gown c. 1880s

Rear View

The dress appears to be constructed from a sapphire-colored silk satin trimmed with metallic beading and black lace. This is very similar to a Worth evening dress in our collection and as such, the metal trim gives the dress significant weight. Here’s a close-up of the hem detail:

Whittaker Auctions1 Evening Gown c. 1880s

Unfortunately, there’s not much information on this dress since the pictures were derived from Pinterest and it was not possible to find the original website that they came from except for a note that this dress was originally on an auction website. Also, the staging is poor so without a physical examination, there’s no real way to tell narrow down the date. However, that said, judging from the dress silhouette, the odds are good that it’s from the early to mid 1880s.

Just for interest, below are pictures of some of the bodice interior:

Whittaker Auctions1 Evening Gown c. 1880sWhittaker Auctions1 Evening Gown c. 1880s

As with most evening dress bodices from the era, it was boned (although some of the bones are now missing) and lined with what appears to be a white silk satin. The finishing work is amazing, even with the wear and tear and shattered silk. Inspiration comes to us from many sources and this one will definitely be at the top of our list. 🙂