On 28 June my newest book, Silk is for Seduction, comes out. It’s the first of my Dressmaker series, about a trio of slightly French but mostly English sisters who set out to become London’s foremost modistes. Today and for some days to come, I’ll be offering a sort of illustrated guide to the book.
A series about dressmakers deserves, naturally, an opening blog about dress. Today I’ll show some Parisian fashions. Later there will be some English ones. You can compare and contrast, and see if you detect any of the differences that were so obvious to my heroine, Marcelline, & her sisters.
(No. 8.) TOILETTE DE SOIRÉE.—Black velvet dress, the corsage à la Sevigné, ornamented down the front with bows of ribbon placed at distances. Short full sleeves, with double sabots of white satin. The front breadth of the dress being of white satin broché* in gold, give it the appearance of an open robe (see plate). On the shoulders are the nœuds de page,** of black satin ribbon broché in gold; the ends are long and fringed; a white blonde goes all round the bosom of the dress. Chapeau Castillan of black velvet, with a broad leaf turned up in front, and ornamented with a bird of Paradise dyed black. The hair is in curls, very much frizzed, and a braid of the back hair is brought across the brow (see plate). Écharpe caprice of very wide white satin ribbon, broché à la Jardinière, in a rich pattern of flowers: the ends of the ribbon are fringed, and it is trimmed at each side with a narrow white blonde. Black silk gloves à jours,*** finished at the tops with a quilling of tulle. Black satin shoes, white silk stockings, necklace or cameos. The dress of the sitting figure, which is of pink satin, is precisely of the same make.
**a bow knotted in a particular style—our dressmaker-historian readers may know exactly what it means
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.