Some 1890s Style…

The styles of the 1890s never fail to fascinate us here at Lily Absinthe- at the same time they look represent one of the heights of Victorian fashion yet at the same time give a hint of fashion developments to come in later years. To start, here’s a more formal day or reception dress from the mid 1890s:

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

Three-Quarter Front View

Side Profile

Rear View

Style-wise, this dress has a silhouette characteristic of the 1890s, characterized by an upright cylindrical profile. The skirt and bodice are constructed of a bottle green silk velvet combined with what appear to be silk faille facings and collar created to look like a faux vest underneath (no doubt, it’s all one piece in actuality). The faux vest/waistcoat is especially striking in that it almost jumps out from the dress with its contrasting ivory silk faille set against the bottle green velvet, effect that’s enhanced by the velvet absorbing light because of its texture and depth. Here’s a closer view:

Close-up of front.

The jeweling and decoration on the silk faille further enhances the bodice’s effect:

Detail of front bodice.

Collar Detail

Detail of front bottom corner of bodice.

Detail of facing.

Overall, this is a textbook case of how various different fabrics and colors and be combined to create an effect that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The eye is instantly drawn to the bodice, following the dresses’ vertical silhouette. Unfortunately, there’s no detail as to who designed and constructed this dress so that remains a mystery but never the less, this is a testament to 1890s style in that it’s both backward and forward-looking at the same time. The faux vest/waistcoat is reminiscent of later 18th Century styles while at the same time, the silhouette, fabrics and colors seem point towards later dress styles- the lines are clean and the bodice is restrained in its decoration and balances the skirt nicely. Definitely an aesthetic treat to behold and it will certainly serve as a source of inspiration for us.

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… 🙂 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.  If you’re in London, the V&A is definitely worth a visit. 🙂

Holiday Greetings From London!

This year we decided to change things up for Christmas so we’re spending it in London. 🙂 Yes, you heard right, London like in London, England. 2018 has been an exceptionally busy year for us, between various projects and travelling, it’s been a crazy but fun time for us. We want to take this moment to with all our clients and followers Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas! We’ll have more soon so stay tuned. 🙂

 

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