Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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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.
Walking suit, ca 1914
(Left) Afternoon dress, ca 1917
(Right) Dress, ca 1918
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Girl’s dress by Jeanne Lanvin, ca 1916 France
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Hat from JW Robinson Co, ca 1917 US (Los Angeles), FIDM Museum & Galleries
Day dress from Harvey Nichols, ca 1916 London, FIDM Museum & Galleries
JW Robinson Co (usually called “Robinson’s) was a department store chain headquartered in Los Angeles, with locations across Southern California, Arizona and the Gulf Coast of Florida. It was founded in 1881 and closed in 1991.
Harvey Nichols is a department store chain with locations in London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Dublin, Riyadh, Kuwait and Hong Kong. The company was founded by Benjamin Harvey in 1831 as a linen store. When he died the shop was passed on to his daughter, who entered into a partnership with Colonel Nichols, who sold luxury items such as oriental rugs and silk. The current London flagship was opened in 1880 and added on to in 1932. I don’t think they sell dresses like this today, but they totally should.
This elegant bronzed leather Colonial dress shoe, c. 1915, has a decorative buckle and a high flaring tongue – both of which suggest a revival of the mid 18th century style. The “buckle” is ornamented with a silk ribbon and cut steel beading. The stylish Cuban heels are a bit higher and more delicate than in previous years. There is a single eyelet lacing under the tongue.
The right shoe is marked: Walkover Boot Shop, referring to manufacture by George E. Keith, a maker of fine shoes in the Campello section of Brockton, MA, who created the “Walk-Over” shoe. He was dedicated to making shoes fit better; in business he was progressive, up-to-date and perhaps even visionary in his factories and treatment of employees.
Keith worked in his father’s boot and shoe business as a youngster, and began business on his own with William S. Green in 1874. They separated in 1880, and Keith embarked on an even larger scale, becoming the foremost shoe manufacturing shoe concern in Massachusetts and perhaps the world. His “Walkover” shoe was known the world over, with showrooms in many of the large cities of this country as well as branch offices in London, Melbourne, Cologne, Buenos Ayres and Santiago.
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from our textile collection. Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our new Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday