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.
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 Ensemble | c. 1870
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. Mourning clothing tended to follow the fashionable silhouette of the period, much like this exquisitely finished full mourning dress. This dress shows typical high style 1870s touches such as asymmetry, the bustle back and decorative hem details. The refined details are worked in black crinkled crepe, a common textile used for mourning attire, which indicates that the owner may have had the garment produced for a special occasion.
Evening Dress | c. 1885
They could have fluffed it out a bit more for the photo, but it’s still fantastic. Feathers make me tingle.
Coral Tiara | c. 1860 - 1870
Phillips Brothers, in which the dominant partner was Robert Phillips, were the leading supplier of coral goods in London, as well as being important goldsmiths and jewellers. In 1870 the firm advertised that it had ‘the most complete collection of fine coral work in the world’. Robert Phillips received the order of the Crown of Italy for his services to the coral industry in Naples.
I love this so much I posted it twice.
Silk Gauze Wedding Dress | c. 1874