Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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May 1st 1921 cover for the Smart fashions and Limited income themed issue.
Illustration by George Wolfe Plank
Mourning earrings, 1899-1902 US (Old Salem, NC), the North Carolina Museum of History
EARRINGS, TEARDROPS OF WOVEN BROWN HAIR ATTACHED TO DECORATIVE VERMEIL TRIANGLE, ATTACHED IN TURN TO VERMEIL MEDALLION MOUNTED ON CIRCLE OF WOVEN HAIR; FRENCH HOOKS FOR PIERCED EARS.
HAIR JEWELRY AND ART WERE POPULAR FROM THE LATE 18TH UNTIL THE EARLY 20TH CENTURIES FOR COMMEMORATIVE, MEMORIAL (MOURNING), SENTIMENTAL, AND DECORATIVE PURPOSES. DURING THE MID-19TH CENTURY MANY WOMEN TOOK UP THE HOBBY OF MAKING HAIR JEWELRY AT HOME. EARRINGS OF THIS STYLE (TABLE-WORKED DANGLES) WERE PARTICULARLY POPULAR 1850-1870. THIS PIECE WAS MADE A LITTLE LATER THAN TYPICAL FOR THIS FORM.
Mourning dress with transforming bodice by Daubricourt, NY, ca 1905 New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
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 coat by House of Worth, 1907 Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Jean-Philippe Worth began as an assistant to his father, Charles Frederick Worth, in 1875. Gradually he was allowed to create his own designs and when his father died in 1895, he became the lead designer for the house. He was praised for making elaborate artistic gowns with intricate trimmings on unique textiles, much like his father had before him. Although the House of Worth was still favored by royalty and celebrities through the turn of the century, their styles were no longer the forefront of French fashion after 1900. Around 1910 Jean-Philippe limited his design work to important orders and hired his nephew, Jean-Charles Worth, as the new lead designer before leaving the company entirely after World War I.
The House of Worth, alongside other couturiers of the time, would produce mourning attire upon request for its regular customers. Mourning was an important feature through the Edwardian period as it had been for the previous half century. Black mourning dress reached its peak during the reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom in the second half of the 19th century. Queen Victoria wore mourning from the death of her husband, Prince Albert (1819-1861), until her own death. With these standards in place, it was considered a social requisite to don black from anywhere between three months to two and a half years while grieving for a loved one or monarch. The stringent social custom existed for all classes and was available at all price points. Those who could not afford the change of dress often altered and dyed their regular garments black. The amount of black to be worn was dictated by several different phases of mourning; full mourning ensembles were solid black while half mourning allowed the wearer to add a small amount of white or purple. Haute couture mourning garments, such as this one, are rare but show the importance of mourning in every echelon of society. The heavy fringe and lace appliqué create an interesting texture on the plain black bengaline, which was commonly used for mourning attire.
Mourning ensemble by L Monney, 1907 US, the Museum at FIT
Black silk crape-anglaise, silk chiffon, wood
Mourning parasol, 1895-1900 US, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
A beautiful as well as large parasol, it is decidedly for mourning. This fact is evidenced by the hidden mourning crepe found in the middle layer between the taffeta and the densely ruched mousseline de soie. The handle is also extremely refined.