Wedding Ensemble | Yves Saint Laurent | c. 1976
Posts tagged Dress.
House of Worth | c. 1882
This dress is in the Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity exhibition currently at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is stunning in person. The train has wide pleats of satin and tulle that fan out perfectly. I could not look away. I just wanted to keep staring but some 55 year old mother and her precocious, test tube, 5 year old daughter cock blocked me and pressed their faces against the glass.
Mourning Dress | c. 1910
This is from the collection of Heather Firbank (1888-1954), daughter of the MP Sir Thomas Firbank and sister of the novelist Ronald Firbank. The dress is a half-mourning dress, meaning that it was worn in the later stages of mourning. Mourning etiquette was well controlled and what could be worn at each stage was rigidly prescribed.
Jet Mourning Tiara | c. 1880-90
Jet is the fossilised remains of driftwood. In Britain, the main source is Whitby, in Yorkshire. It became particularly popular in mourning jewellery in the mid 19th century.
The custom of wearing mourning dress was encouraged by Queen Victoria’s prolonged mourning after the death of her husband Albert in 1861. Formal mourning required black crepe or bombazine clothes along with ‘a few trinkets to accentuate the general sombreness of the costume’. This tiara shows that jet or its substitutes was worn at the highest level of society: only those above a certain social class would have had the occasion to wear a tiara. It is interesting that it is made of ‘French jet’, a cast glass substitute for jet. As supplies of jet were not sufficient to keep up with the demand, dark cast glass known as ‘French jet’ or ‘Vauxhall glass’ was often used.
Mourning Gown | c. 1825
The death of Princess Charlotte, the only child of George IV, in childbirth in 1817 plunged the whole country into mourning and set the high standards for mourning dress of this period. Fabrics such as silk and velvet were too shiny to be worn for the first stages of mourning, however, official mourning guidelines issued by the Lord Chamberlain decreed that black velvets and silks were permissible in the third and final stage. This dress would have been worn with an evening turban, long gloves and a pelisse cloak, often lined with chinchilla fur. It is likely that it was a gift from William Jardine and was worn when mourning the death of Jane Johnstone’s grandmother, Elizabeth Johnstone who died in 1825.
Elizabeth Hawes | “It’s My Own Invention” | c. 1937
Day Dress | c. 1947
An enormous bustle bow dominates this striped silk dress by Victor Steibel. In February 1947 Christian Dior had launched the New Look featuring pinched waists, full skirts and a soft shoulder line. It was an attempt to reinstate feminity in dress after a period of wartime austerity and shortage. The impractical scale and frivolity of Steibel’s bow was clearly a defiant gesture against rationing. It makes lavish use of material and is so large and weighty that it requires the support of a sturdy horsehair frill beneath the skirts.