Antique- Gowns From The Lily Absinthe Collection

Today’s prompt for #FallForCostume hosted by @redthreaded is: “Antique”…I’ve been an antique textile collector all my adult life, it’s nearly impossible to choose what I love best in my museum collection…dresses have souls; or memories that come with them…either way, they exist so we can cherish and share them. First one is my treasured Felix, a beautiful ballgown that came to me with her shoes! Someday, I want to reproduce her, I’ve already (carefully!) taken a pattern.


Second, is our cobalt and sapphire Worth ballgown…another one I have plans to reproduce and have already received the commissioned silk, it’s just finding the time.


Tea Gowns & No. 11

Were slowly recovering from the drive back from Arizona…tubs and bags everywhere…Labor Day Weekend at No. 11 is always hectic and this one was a bit more since we were struggling to finish installation of the new curtains in the parlor as well as completing the final touches on the tea gown. It was close but we finally got it all done and managed to get some nice pictures before we had to head back to LA.  😎

Overall, the tea gown project was a great success and it actually went smoother than I initially expected- it was still a lot of work but there weren’t any issues that needed to be resolved along the way. The best part about this project is that it’s patterned off of several originals in our collection, utilizing unique fabrics that we’ve found on our various journeys through Europe that replicate those found during the 1880s and 90s. We’re definitely pleased with the result and we’re looking forward to working up further tea gown designs in the future. 😎

In The Works- Tea Gowns, Part 2

In yesterday’s post we gave a bit of an overview of our design inspiration so today, we’re going to show theory being put into practice. 😊 The final design that we settled on is a formal circa 1881 tea gown that was intended to be worn when receiving guests at home. It perhaps would have been a step down from a formal occasion and as such intended for close friends.

To begin, we first we start with the fabrics themselves:

The fabric on the left is a red waterfall pattern silk moire that we bought in Munich and we’ll be using that for the revers. The fabric on the right will be the fashion fabric and is a light/dark red silk brocade we bought in Paris, or more specifically, in Montmartre. Below is a close-up of the Montmartre fabric:

One of the most striking features is the rough/irregular texture and when combined by the shades-of-red color spectrum, makes for a very striking fashion fabric.

Finally, we’re utilizing a large vintage lace piece that we obtained from Elizabeth Emerson Designs– Thanks Liz!! 😁

Next, utilizing our collection of vintage garments and studying some period patterns, we created our own unique design:

Essentially, we opted to go with a two-part design consisting of an outer body that opens up to reveal a plastron of ivory-colored lace back with ivory silk taffeta. The pictures above and below are of the outer body- note the silk moire revers.

And then there’s the plastron:

The lace will be hand-tacked to the silk taffeta where the pins are…there’s a lot of work ahead there. 😆

And putting it all together (although more stitching remains to be done):

Ultimately, this will be one single garment once the plastron is fully attached.

And one last view with one of our creative consultants:

The gold silk shoes will make a wonderful accompaniment- I think Fiona approves! 😉 There’s more to follow so stay tuned….

The Panier Polonaise- Part 3

And now we present our take on the “Panier Polonaise” style with this spring/summer promenade dress:

This dress is constructed of a Liberty London cotton print fabric trimmed with antique lace and Aesthetic Era enameled cut steel buttons:

Below are some details:

The hem is a knife-pleated silk striae fabric:

And for a few more views:

We intend on making a number of similar dresses from Liberty print cotton fabrics that we brought back with us from London so stay tuned for more details! 🙂

The Panier Polonaise- Part 2

Previously, as part of our discussion on early 1880s fashion, we described the “Panier Polonaise” style a bit. Today, we present an example of this style from our collection that dates from the early 1880s. Unfortunately, there’s no label inside or other way to pinpoint the precise year of construction.

The bodice and skirt are constructed of a plum-colored silk taffeta (we actually conducted a burn test on some fibers taken from the interior). On the skirt sides, the fabric has been draped and held in place by strips of ruched self-fabric trim.  The same self-fabric trim also runs along the hem.

Below are some views of the bodice.  It’s cut in the style of a polonaise with long edges towards on the front that are sharply drawn up towards the rear. The same style of self-fabric trim are used on each side of the bodice front and the sleeve cuffs. Note the tiny ruched “parasol pocket”… 🙂 It was handy for holding a handkerchief (or not).

Below is a view of one of the polonaise bodice sides, again trimmed in the same self-fabric trim as the other parts of the skirt and bodice. The hem is gathered up towards the rear and one can see the detail:

And here’s a view of the bodice back. The sides drape over the hips while the rear is drawn up short.

Below are two views of the bodice interior. As was standard with most late 19th Century bodices, they were lightly boned to maintain the bodice’s shape (they were NOT meant to replace the corset). Although it’s not easy to make out from the picture, the lining fabric is a plain cotton muslin.

This is truly a remarkable example of early 1880s style and we’ll be posting some more pictures of it soon.

To be continued…