Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
Find me at:
Click "browse" to find whatever it is you're looking for.
Town dress with chemisette owned by Empress Josephine, First Empire
“This high-waisted dress with its square, low-cut neckline and decorated with white embroidered flowers and leaves is typical of the fashion at the start of the First Empire. To conceal the low neckline, it could be worn with a chemisette which was slipped inside the dress. This one is in white muslin, embroidered with a sprinkling of flowers and embellished with a ruché trim. This outfit comes from the family of Madame Poyard who looked after the Empress’s wardrobe after 1809.”
Marie Antoinette (1755–1793), Queen of France, in a Court Dress by François Hubert Drouais, 1773 France, the Victoria & Albert Museum
François Hubert Drouais (1727-1775) was born in Paris. He trained with his father, Hubert Drouais (1699-1767) and then with Donat Nonotte (1708-1785), Carle van Loo (1705-1765), Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700-1777) and François Boucher (1703-1770). He became a member of the Académie Royale in 1755 and achieved quickly a great success as a portrait painter, receiving prestigious commissions, especially from the court.
This painting is a portrait of the Dauphine Marie-Antoinette, consort of the future king of France, Louis XVI, at the age of 17. It depicts the princess in a lavish court dress adorned with sumptuous jewels. This portrait was used as a model for a tapestry made in the Royal manufactory of the Gobelins by the Cozette father and son in 1775. This portrait is a good example of French state portraits of the 18th century and the representation of an almighty royalty about to fail in a few years time.
Mourning evening slippers by Melnotte, 1845-65 France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Tiny black slippers were de rigueur in the fashionable mid-Victorian lady’s wardrobe. Black shoes were felt to go with anything, hence the most versatile and dependable choice of footwear to have on hand. Slippers of this type are most commonly found in satin, so the faille fabric of this unworn pair is unusual. It is possible that the shoes were intended for mourning, when a dull-surfaced fabric was desired. The interesting label of the London vendor - written largely in French, noting the firm as exclusive agent, and mentioning the added stock of Parisian gloves, perfumes, and novelties - demonstrates the importance of imported French shoes and accessories in the contemporary market.
Mourning dress by Amédée François, ca 1880 France, 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 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.
Portrait of Mlle Fabre, Later Baroness de la Houze by Louis Carrogis Carmontelle, 1760’s-70’s France, Winterthur Museum
Robe, 1780-85 France, the Victoria & Albert Museum
This gown demonstrates the fashionable styles in women’s formal dress of the 1780s. The hoop has changed from the square shape of earlier decades to a round profile. A stomacher is no longer needed, because the gown now meets in the front. The cream silk is adorned only at the edges with an embroidered band, ribbon and a stencilled fringe. This restraint in decoration illustrates the growing influence of the Neo-classical style in textile design.
Boy’s robe, ca 1750 France, the Victoria & Albert Museum
This boy’s robe dates from a era when young boys in Europe wore garments with skirts, a custom with unclear origins, but which most likely had to do with making it easier for them to urinate. The style was common until about 1920. A boy usually received his first breeches or trousers between four and seven years of age, sometimes in a special ceremony held by the family.