From The FIDM Museum- Some Shoes

In a previous post, we touched upon boots and how they were pretty ubiquitous as footwear during the 1880s and late 19th Century in general. While researching something else, I came across a couple of examples of formal shoes residing in the permanent collection of the FIDM Museum. First up are a pair of evening shoes from circa 1870:

Shoes Footwear c. 1870

Evening Shoes, c. 1870; FIDM Museum

In terms of style, the heels on these shoes are fairly low compared to some specimens out there (like today, heel height was often a matter of personal preference). The stockings that these shoes are displayed with are just as interesting with their elaborate design that serves to extend the visual line of the shoes up the leg- very scandalous… 🙂 Finally, the silk magenta fabric and bows really make these shoes a stand-out.

Next, there are this pair of evening shoes from the 1890s:

Shoes Footwear c. 1890s

Evening Shoes, c. 1890; FIDM Museum

Constructed of a dark blue suede leather decorated with gold embroidery, these are reminiscent of 17th and 18th Century styles a la Versailles- can you say “Sun King”? 🙂 The accompanying stockings compliment the shoes with their lighter shade of blue and also decorated in the front with gold metallic embroidery which serves to extend the lines of the shoes up the front of the legs.

The above two pairs of shoes are elegant and their condition is simply amazing- they look as fresh as the day they were made. We have plans in the near future to hopefully delve deeper into the world of Victorian footwear- too often it’s treated as an afterthought.

Selections From The FIDM Museum 2


oday we feature another gown from the FIDM Museum permanent collection, this time a dinner gown that was made by Doucet circa 1899 – 1900:

Dinner Gown Doucet c. 1899-1900

Jacques Doucet, Dinner Gown, c. 1899-1900; FIDM Museum

Dinner Gown Doucet c. 1899-1900

Unfortunately, I was unable to get any good full-length pictures of this gown and there was only one angle available however, I got some good detail of the capelet top which is the center of focus. As with many of Doucet’s designs, the capelet utilizes gold netting combined with gold metallic trim that simply reads “rich”. The rest of the gown is black with vertical stripes of black jet beading and serves as a backdrop of sorts to the gold capelet. This is definitely one of those “high 90s” styles that’s rich and a bit over the top.

This is an interesting example of Doucet’s work and I’ll be seeing about getting some more pictures to augment what I got. It’s definitely worth taking a look at in person.

Selections From The FIDM Museum


hile the the 26th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum was a bit of a disappointment, there were some items in the Museum’s permanent collection that made up for it immensely. One such item was an evening gown designed by Gustave Beer circa 1912 – 1913:

Evening Gown Gustave Beer c. 1912-1913

Gustave Beer, Evening Gown, c. 1912 -1913; FIDM Museum

The gown is constructed from a gold silk charmeuse combined with a jeweled applique floral pattern. The silhouette is the loose Classic Grecian inspired nouveau directoire style with empire waist. In contrast to the tightly sculpted structural styles of the 1890s and early 1900s styles, this dress was draped, relying only on the garment itself to create its lines. While corsets are still utilized for foundation wear in 1912-13, it was now submerged, masked by the flowing lines of the dress. Here are some more views:

Evening Gown Gustave Beer c. 1912-1913

Three-Quarter Front Profile

Evening Gown Gustave Beer c. 1912-1913

Close-Up Three-Quarter Front Profile

Here we get a better look at the decoration and trim. Jeweled netting sweeps over the dress from the waist down, serving to emphasize the decorative pattern on the dress front.

Evening Gown Gustave Beer c. 1912-1913

Side Profile

This somewhat blurred picture (unfortunately, other visitors kept getting in the way) give a side view of the dress, emphasizing the slender, cylindrical silhouette of the dress while at the same time showing off the train.

Evening Gown Gustave Beer c. 1912-1913

The Train

The train itself is magnificent and it’s a piece of art in itself, serving as a canvas for an elaborate jeweled/embroidered floral pattern. The outside border is especially striking and very reminiscent of classical design motifs. This dress was a definite bright spot in our day! 🙂


The 1870s Or 1970s?

Sometimes a random encounter can spark an idea and today’s post is no exception. In the course of looking for some pictures for another project, I came across a series of pictures of a circa 1874 day dress made by Charles Worth. While the design was fairly standard, it was colors that jumped out at me- they just screamed “1970s.” At the same time, we know that colors are a universal thing with various colors being emphasized during different eras.

Color has always played a role in defining the fashions of an era, whether it be the 19th Century or today and it’s one of the first things we notice. For some eras, color can exert a very powerful influence and one such era was the 1970s. When most people think about 1970s fashions, the reaction is almost invariably: “What were we thinking?” 🙂

As a generalization, the 1970s were characterized by many unfortunate fabric and style choices (as one of my fashion design textbooks described it) dominated by an earth tone color palette led, of course, by avocado and harvest gold:

1970s Color Palette Pantone

And here’s that color palette in action:

Image result for 1970s fashions

Yes, Paul Poiret would probably not approve… 🙂

So, one would think that the above color palette was unique to the 1970s but in reality, the color palette has been around since the concept of fashion was first developed. In terms of the 1870s, the same “1970s color palette” was present as seen in this circa 1874 day dress attributed to Worth:

Worth Day Dress c. 1874

Worth, Day Dress, c. 1874; Rhode Island Institute of Design Museum ( 2005.89.12)

Worth Day Dress c. 1874

Worth Day Dress c. 1874

The silhouette and style of this dress definitely reads early 1870s and is fairly standard. However, what caught our eye was the color palette which just screamed “1970s” and to be honest, it’s not our favorite color combination but there it is… 🙂