Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Mourning dress by Charlotte Duclos, ca 1910 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I usually don’t like mourning dresses (you weren’t supposed to, anyway), but the beading pattern on this one is stunning.
The elaborate but subtle beading on this mourning dress would have shimmered when new. The asymmetry of the charmeuse panel is indicative of the high fashion of the period. An example of extremely chic mourning attire for the evening, it features an element of subtle exposure: the beaded underpanel hidden by the charmeuse would have been revealed with the movement of the wearer.
Mourning hat by Bruat, Inc, ca 1915 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Black hats were popular for general wear in the 1910, particularly during the years of World War I, when sobriety and utility were the order of the day. Some hats, however, stand out specifically as mourning wear, suitable only to the bereaved, despite how chic the design might be. While this hat is fashionable in form and decoration, the unrelieved black clearly identifies its function. The choice of grape clusters - a normally colorful motif symbolizing fertility and abandon - produces an incongruous shock, thereby serving to strengthen the statement of mourning.
Mourning hat by Henri Bendel, ca 1915 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
This beautiful and stylish mourning hat from the World War I era was purchased from Henri Bendel, an important maker and importer of luxury goods. Its clean lines and elegant swath of scarf retain their sense of chic today. The single large buckle trim, a popular feature at time, has the weight and presence necessary to stand up to the severe color scheme and contrasting textures. Despite the timeless beauty of its design, this hat would have had a very limited wearability: the fabric of the scarf, a variety of crimped black crepe called “mourning crepe”, was used exclusively for mourning.
Evening coat by Liberty & Co, 1900-25 London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Pink satin evening coat or wrap, cut in kimono style; collar and cuffs of white satin embroidered with pink silk in conventionalized floral design; lined with white satin. Front trimmed with white satin buttons wrapped with pink thread and pink tassels. Label: “Liberty and Co., London and Paris”