Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Regency era fashion print vs. a real dress

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Loretta reports:

Now that we’ve had a chance to see examples of real clothes from the Romantic era, and compare them to the fashion prints I've previously posted, I thought it would be fun to look at the very early 1800s, and those white muslin dresses for which the era is noted (more here and here).

Here’s the description for the July 1807 fashion print

No. 2.—Full Dress.
A round robe of white Italian crape over white sarsnet; with frock back, plain sleeve, and pointed front; trimmed round the bottom, bosom, and sleeves with an elegant border, composed of the pearl bead, blended with green foil and gold. The robe confined at the centre of the bosom with a brooch formed of a single pearl. One row of the same forms the necklace, which is fastened with an emerald snap. Hoop earrings, and bracelets to correspond. Hair à-la-Madona on the forehead, twisted behind, and flowing in full curls on the crown of the head ; a bunch of white roses in front, inclining towards the right side. Gloves of French kid; shoes of white satin, with silver trimming. Square shawl of Chinese silk, with a rich pointed border; finished at each point with correspondent tassels. The style of wearing this graceful ornament is, simply giving it a twist from the cross corners, and flinging it negligently over the left shoulder; thus one point ornaments the figure behind, while the others, falling irregularly, form a drapery on the left side, and gracefully occupy the right hand.  Chinese fan of frosted crape, with ivory sticks, carved in Egyptian characters.
La Belle Assemblée, Volume 2, 1807

Though it’s not precisely the same dress, and dated “about 1800” (and the shawl is not, apparently, fashionably draped) the dress at right from the Victoria & Albert Museum is a wonderful example of how airy and delicate these white muslin dresses could be, and how rich and beautiful the colors of the shawl.  The muslin is from India.  The shawl is “silk twill with a brocaded pattern woven in silk,” believed to have been made in Spitalfields, London.  There's more about the dress here.


Fichu1800 said...

Interesting post. We have two original dresses in the Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion collection which are almost identical copies of 'Costume Parisien' fashion plates.
It is also fascinating when a painting of the period shows exactly a surviving piece of period costume. One example is the dress fragment of Spitalfields silk in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation collection which is featured in the portrait of Mrs Charles Willing 1746. From 'What Clothes Reveal' page 85.

Joseph Hisey said...

I have studied and re-created several dresses from this period. What surprises many people is that the white dress was a sign of status and consequently was emphasized by the fashion periodicals. The albums of Barbara Johnson can attest to the wide variety of darker prints used at this time for everyday dress.

Debra Dixon said...

What a lovely dress with an even lovelier shawl. This could be worn today--proof that good design stands the test of time.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Stella from the Jane Austen Centre Forum we would like to invite you to our new forum online and was looking around for something new and there you were. If we haven't gotten to you yet as we have a long list of invitees from twitter.
If you would like to join us as well to give us a feature on your love of fashions please do or there are many discussions in this area and others and as the Jane Austen Festival is fast approaching your input would be wonderful


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