Thursday, December 31, 2015

Real or Costume? 1870's Natural Form


From the seller:

This is a stunning example of a high quality 1880's Victorian 2 piece gown made in Paris by Elisa Mery who had a shop at 48 Rue Caumartin. It has exquisite workmanship and fascinating details.

The fabric is of superb quality and in super condition. The jacket and band on the hem of the skirt are made of a lusciously rich lilac silk satin. The skirt and draping is made out of a coordinating lilac silk brocade accented with a floral design in shades of cream, brown and gold.

The sleeves and bodice are accented with bands of hand-embroidered flowers and leaves in the same colors as the brocade pattern.
The interior of the bodice shows the high-quality workmanship that went into creating this spectacular gown: myriad bones, hand-cast seams, fabric covered weights at the center back hem, tiny, handsewn eyelets and thread loops.

The poor rich lady who wore this must have looked amazing but it couldn't have been comfortable. All those bones would have kept her from slumping, slouching, bending and probably breathing and the corseted front insured she didn't get in or out of this quickly.

I just love the draping and pleated accent on the back of the skirt. A classic design of this era. The draping was lined with a wool challis and I guess the moths enjoyed a snack here and there. Happily they left the silk intact.

The garment is in fabulous condition considering its age, but there are a few spots, slight staining under the arms as well as a few scattered pulls in the fabric. The hem is soiled--as one would expect--and the length may have been altered at some time because the hand stitching is done in red thread. Luckily this doesn't show on the outside.

Happily, the gown is in wearable condition and unlike the majority of women from this era, the owner was a substantially built woman, particularly in the bust area.
Bust: 42" Waist: 28" The hip area is ample since the skirt is pleated. Length from Waist to hem: 41"

A fabulous garment like this doesn't come up for sale often. Make this the newest addition to your antique clothing collection.


From Me:
Looking at the skirt, I only have this going through my mind:



...Because it's on backwards. ;-)


Anyway, at first blush, I thought this was a costume.  The embroidery and the materials look pretty modern.  However, look at the inside.  Not only does it still have the waist belt, the way the fabric is cut is very Victorian in nature.  Notice the rounded, finished seams?  

Given the length of the bodice and the narrowness of the skirt, this is late 1870's.

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!!!!

15 comments:

  1. Oh, this is hilarious!!!
    Gorgeous dress. I love how the trims on the bodice were done.
    Val

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    1. :-D I keep looking at that skirt and that really is all I can think about. Well, that and "Forget it! I'll walk!"

      It's really a different dress and I hope someone recreates it eventually.

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  2. ... it's actually not on backwards. The front apron drape is basic period, a dead ringer for 2 separate Truly Victorian patterns (they base theirs on originals) and cut to fit a flat front figure. In the event someone tries to wear it the other way round, the bodice taille would obscure the drape. Not to mrntion it wouldn't fit. This looks like early 1880s, with a small bustle pad. The bustle came back as early as 1882 in France. And not sure what you mean by 'corseted gown'-- all the boning is pretty basic sewing to keep the bodice from wrinkling. A separate corset would have been worn underneath with a corset cover to soften the line.

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    1. Hi! Welcome to the blog. Anything in italics isn't from me - it's from the seller. I in no way stated it was a corseted gown, the seller did. Feel free to email them and complain - I've done so in the past many times, honestly.

      I'm familiar with TV patterns. In this case, it's not an apron front - what you are thinking. Notice how it's split and scrunched slightly in the middle? That's so that it would flare out under the tails of the bodices, creating a bit of a bustle affect. Although you might be thinking of TV326, the apron on that is much longer and isn't quite as gathered as this extant one is. You might also be thinking of something similar to this fashion plate from 1879 when it comes to the striped dress. The biggest issue then is this - there is no evidence of a dress without something in the back but there are plenty without something in the front. A plain front but a bit of poof to rest the back tails on makes more sense from the standards of the day.

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    2. I probably should also point out the buttons in the bodice back. The tails of the dress probably cascade down the back but are pinned up for storage or the changing fashion. I bet there are ribbons beneath the tails to let the tails down.

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    3. I'm thinking something more like this which is only a few years before: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/220969_a-dove-grey-silk-taffeta-afternoon-dress

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    4. Tv 367.. is longer but split is the same. The front drape seems pieced to make it work (and prob resultingly off grain or assymetrical), but the flat top def goes in the front, it would need shirting, stroked gathers or gauging to fit the back. I've seen a few that are plain back? I'd guess this was a fancy dinner dress that is either missing a train that fastened on or they ran out of the fancy satin and were satisfied with the taille. Not usual, but maybe a 'new modern style' of walking dress.

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  3. I recognize specific elements of the bodice taille from 2 separate original pattern diagrams. One is in Frances Grimble's Gilded Era book vol. 1?, the velvet corselet with satin blouse that has the wired Medici collar (prob 1880-1882) and a small reprint of an original pattern diagram for a mid 1880s jacket in Arnold's Patterns of Fashion (Vict through 30s volume) in the intro that I believe was taken from Myra's Journal of Dressmaking.

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  4. It won't let me edit! Keeps posting too soon... was going to add it's really amazing to see the dress still intact, I would have expected it to have been skeletonized for the embroidery and skirt fabric for later eras.. skirt seems to be mussing trim around the bottom with the plain satin band, maybe they stopped there. Saw a black sqtin bodice on ebay once that was as heavily embroidered with lovely blue roses, but it was directly on the bodice pieces. Interesting how the front embroidery is applied on strips that could be added later, perhaps to speed up dress completion or maybe thought too plain during a final fitting. So much handwork!

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    1. Lol! Yeah, I wish there was a way to update the blogger system because I wish it would thread like a message board. It drives me batty sometimes. My guess - as this was way too common to count- is the embroidery is from an older dress. The entire dress might be an older dress that was "remade" into the newer style. I've seen that way too many times.

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  5. Apologies for typos, on my phone.. Agree, likely a Natural Form princess style cut up to be "modern". Really wish there was a picture of the tails let out and the underside, to guess at the interlining.

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    1. Don't worry about the typos - I'm at work and probably come of way more grumpy than I really am. (I'm used to writing in "No, sir, you can't don't that because of x, y, and z.") I'd love a pic of the tails out but my guess is the seller didn't realize that that's why there were buttons there. :-)

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    2. I found the corselet! Page 223 of Fashions of the Gilded Age vol 1. "Satin merveilleux blouse with velvet bodice", Harper's Bazar, 1881. The pattern for the tails is floor-length and then folded up underneath in the same way. Directions say to sew to waistline to fasten, but ribbons seem like a much better idea to let out for cleaning or an alternate look. Been one ofvthe patterns I've been meaning to test out, really pretty. Have you seen any other bodices with the tail draped up that way? Truly Victorian has a bodice pattern dated 1883 that is almost identical in style to this pink one (minus embroidery strips) but the tail is just left floor length, not folded up. I've seen a lot of variation on the floor length tail style in German pattern diagrams... although I think the magazine was Der Bazar, so basically a translation/reprint. I've always thought the long plain tail style was fairly boring, but maybe not if it has the option to tuck up underneath. Maybe lined with a satin in a shocking color.

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    3. I found the corselet! Page 223 of Fashions of the Gilded Age vol 1. "Satin merveilleux blouse with velvet bodice", Harper's Bazar, 1881. The pattern for the tails is floor-length and then folded up underneath in the same way. Directions say to sew to waistline to fasten, but ribbons seem like a much better idea to let out for cleaning or an alternate look. Been one ofvthe patterns I've been meaning to test out, really pretty. Have you seen any other bodices with the tail draped up that way? Truly Victorian has a bodice pattern dated 1883 that is almost identical in style to this pink one (minus embroidery strips) but the tail is just left floor length, not folded up. I've seen a lot of variation on the floor length tail style in German pattern diagrams... although I think the magazine was Der Bazar, so basically a translation/reprint. I've always thought the long plain tail style was fairly boring, but maybe not if it has the option to tuck up underneath. Maybe lined with a satin in a shocking color.

      Delete