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Gold silk dress with tiered, tasseled skirt Label- “Mrs. W. Wilds, Auburn, NY” American, ca. 1879-80, Silverman:Rodgers, KSUM 1983.1.156 ab

Rate the Dress: Tasselled fringe & gold

Last week’s dress was all sweet and serene. This week is the first full week back at Toi Whakaari: The New Zealand Drama School. All our new students have arrived, and we’re back into the swing of things. So I’m feeling a bit more dramatic. And what’s more dramatic than gold and tassels?

Last Week: a 1790s over-robe in pale pink

Most of you loved last week’s Regency over-robe, and thought it was a perfection in pink. And then some of you thought it was a bit….boring.

The Total: 9 out of 10

Still a very, very good score, but not as good as the preceding weeks.

This week: ca. 1880s tiers of tassels

This week’s dress is VERY natural-form-to-second bustle-era Victorian. Trim and textures and layers upon layers.

Gold silk dress with tiered, tasseled skirt Label- “Mrs. W. Wilds, Auburn, NY” American, ca. 1879-80, SIlverman:Rodgers, Kent State University Museum 1983.1.156 ab
Gold silk dress with tiered, tasseled skirt Label- “Mrs. W. Wilds, Auburn, NY” American, ca. 1879-80, Silverman:Rodgers, Kent State University Museum 1983.1.156 ab

The pleats and tasselled fringe and metallic embroidery and damask silk and lace are all held together by a single colour scheme: a medley of apricot and gold.

Gold silk dress with tiered, tasseled skirt Label- “Mrs. W. Wilds, Auburn, NY” American, ca. 1879-80, SIlverman:Rodgers, KSUM 1983.1.156 ab
Gold silk dress with tiered, tasseled skirt Label- “Mrs. W. Wilds, Auburn, NY” American, ca. 1879-80, Silverman:Rodgers, Kent State University Museum 1983.1.156 ab

So what do you think? Dramatic but elegantly harmonious, or tasselled tackiness?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment

Waitangi Day Garden Party thedreamstress.com

The Governor-General’s Waitangi Day Garden Party

Or, an awkward post that combines pretty and serious about an awkward event that combines fun and fraught history

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

Waitangi Day is NZ’s founding holiday, somewhat analogous to the American 4th of July, Canada Day, or France’s Bastille Day.

It commemorates the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. Te Tiriti was signed by representatives of the British Crown, on one side, and Māori Rangitira (chiefs) on the other.

The British was drafted by British representatives with the intention of “establishing a British Governor of New Zealand, recognising Māori ownership of their lands, forests and other possessions, and giving Māori the rights of British subjects.” (quote taken directly from Wikipedia, as I don’t want to risk paraphrasing and getting it wrong!)

As the major legal agreement whereby non-Maori have the right to be in NZ (making us Tangata Tiriti – ‘people of the Treaty’, and Māori are Tangata Whenua ‘People of the Land’), all aspects of modern NZ law & government are considered based on whether they agree with Te Tiriti.

However…

The Treaty of Waitangi was massively problematic right from the beginning.

First, Te Tiriti was written in two languages (English and te reo Māori) by someone who was only fluent in one (English), and the meaning differs between the two texts in some very important ways. Among others, the English version says the Māori are giving up sovereignty, the te reo version does not.

Second, New Zealand at the time was not a modern country, with a unified government. There was no paramount chief. Instead, there were hundreds of Rangitira across New Zealand, and many refused to sign the treaty.

So New Zealand’s founding document is a treaty where the two parties to it thought they were getting different things out of it, and where not all the parties on one side agreed to it.

Not surprisingly, this has caused problems over the years, and makes Waitangi Day a difficult holiday to commemorate.

The biggest commemoration is an event at the grounds at Waitangi attended by the Prime Minister. The Governor-General, the British Crown’s representative in New Zealand, does NOT attend this event. Instead they throw a garden party which any New Zealand citizen or permanent resident can apply to attend.

The garden party is usually held in Auckland one year, and Wellington the next. You enter a ballot in September, find out if you got in a month later, and have to supply your full name and that of your +1, so that they can check you out and make sure you are unlikely to be a security risk.

I’ve never entered the ballot, but thought that it would be a good thing to do as a proto-New Zealander (not a citizen but I can vote). And I got in! I asked Jenni to be my +1 as a fellow adopted-NZer.

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

The Wellington Steampunkers have been going to the garden party in costume for years, and I know of other people who go in historical dress. Jenni & I decided to go in 1920s, because it’s subtle enough to maybe not be a costume, and would have been worn at Government House when it was young and new.

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

Jenni wore by beloved Not-a-1-hour Dress (and looked gorgeous in it, because Jenni always looks gorgeous, and everyone looks gorgeous in it).

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com
1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

I made a new hat, which went extremely well except for the satin ribbon I used on the brim (and which is being replaced today), and an early 20s dress which fought me every step of the way, did not turn out as planned at all, and is currently being called the ‘Sad Sack’

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com
1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

Although I was very unhappy with it in the moment, I have plans of how I’ll be wrangling it into submission….

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

The garden party is held on the large lawn directly in front of Government House. Jenni & I got lucky, and found a bench tucked off to the side of the lawn behind the food tents, out of the way and in the shade, but where you could just see the stage where the G-G would make her address.

Government House NZ, thedreamstress.com

I was very interested in the speeches: how do you balance people in pretty frocks drinking wine and tea and eating ice cream with how fraught the event really is?

The Governor-General sidestepped it by focusing her speech on the environment, and how we could use Māori principals of stewardship to care for it.

The more awkward ‘let’s talk about the actual Treaty a little bit’ (but only a very little bit) speech was left to MC Ward Kamo, who discussed the instructions Captain Cook was given towards NZ, and Lord Normanby’s instructions to Captain William Hobson that led to the Treaty of Waitangi

“The natives may probably regard with distrust a proposal which may carry on the face of it the appearance of humiliation on their side and of a formidable encroachment on ours.

These, however, are impediments to be gradually overcome by the exercise on your part of mildness, justice and perfect sincerity in your intercourse with them.

As an example of ‘let’s not be grim and ruin the mood’ political speechmaking, it was very interesting.

After speeches, Jenni & I toured what we could of the gardens, bumping in to people I knew at every turn. Apparently half of my Wellington acquaintanceship had also managed to get tickets!

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

We admired the dahlias:

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

I succumbed to a final Nice Block:

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com
1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

The lilies were blooming so I had to take a ‘Jenni as Clementine with the Lily’ photo (although I must note that Jenni does NOT have big feet).

Clementine with the Lily, thedreamstress.com

And then we skipped off down the garden path, heading for shoes-off, long baths, and naps:

1920s dresses thedreamstress.com

It was a very interesting event: such a snapshot of New Zealand’s fraught relationship with the Treaty.

Rate the Dress: Pastel Pink Over-Robes

I’ve got Regency on my mind at the moment. It’s probably because I have absolutely no events coming up for which I need a Regency frock, so my wayward mind is fixating on the most impractical thing it can think of! So, this week’s Rate the Dress is 1790s…

Last Week: A 1910s dress in devoré velvet and metallic lace

I’ll let you in on a secret. I think last week’s dress is hideous. And I don’t know why, because I usually love that style of dress, and the individual elements. I’m ashamed to say it may be the presentation: I’m usually good at overlooking presentation, but somehow that too-tall mannequin and bare foot is just a bit offputting…

Luckily for the dresses final rating, you do not agree with me. Other than the big beaded element at the bust you were on-board with the dress, finding the devoré divine, and the gold lace the perfect amount of gilding.

The Total: 9.3 out of 10

Just .1 point shy of the week before!

This week: a 1790s over-robe in pale pink

I spent a little bit of time browsing the Met’s website, indulging my obsession, and came across this week’s Rate the Dress pick. It’s only an open-robe, shown with what I’m 99% sure is a reproduction underpetticoat, but I think it’s fascinating enough to be worth it’s own Rate the Dress. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way!

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

This pink and gold open robe is a perfect blend of ancien regime grandeur meets neoclassical simplicity, from the fabric which blends brocaded lushness with a more severe and restrained pattern, to the cut, which evokes both the classical world and a robe a la francaise.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

The pale pink silk fabric features subtle textures satin stripes and delicate motifs worked in silver gilt thread.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

The neckline of the robe is framed with a self fabric ruffle which nods to the tuckers of earlier fashion, and frames the full ‘buffoun’ neckerchief so fashionable in the 1780s and 90s. As is common in sleeve cuts of the era, the stripes are placed to run vertically along the top of the narrow sleeves, becoming horizontal at the crook of the elbow.

Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269
Robe, 1790s, American, silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998.269

What do you think? Is this overgown exquisitely elegance, taking a simple white frock and elevating it to something spectacular? Or is it neither here nor there as a fashion piece: unwilling to commit to one aesthetic or another?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment.  Phrase criticism as your opinion, rather than a flat fact. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting.  It’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste. 

(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5.  I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment