I anticipated that some of you wouldn’t love the paisley patterned 1860s swiss bodice outfit I posted last week, but was completely unprepared for the levels of dislike, and for what you objected to. I thought you might like the clean, graphic paisley shapes, in contrast to the usually fussy details associated with paisley, but instead you called them “black holes burnt in the skirt” and “amoebas” and “blobs”. And if the paisley didn’t kill it for you, the swiss bodice did. As a less-well endowed woman, I would achieve only the most modest swell above that style of swiss bodice in a corset, but many of you imagined the effect of a more boxom bust and were…distracted. Though some of you did like it, it still only managed a 5.7 out of 10.
Since you objected to the overt girlishness of last weeks outfit, I thought I should post something a bit more reserved and masculine.
This is Winnaretta Singer, Princess de Polignac, daughter of Isaac Singer (of Singer Sewing Machines fame), one of the heirs to the Singer fortune, arts and music partron, and (in the words of Wikipedia en español) ‘notorious lesbian.’ As a patron of the arts, Singer hosted one of the most famous salons in late 19th century Europe, and works by Debussey & Ravel were debuted at them. She was also a philanthropist: assisting with public housing schemes, and supporting ambulances during WWI. To top this off, she was a bit of a fashionista, and finally, she was not to be messed with. One of her lover’s husbands once camped out outside her villa, shouting “If you are half the man I think you are you’ll come out and fight me.”
When I found this portrait of Singer, I was looking for an image of a woman with a muff, and the contrast between this and other photographs of women with muffs immediately stuck me. The convention is for a woman to hold up her muff, and peer coquettishly over it. Singer, on the other hand, holds it as casually as she holds her suitcase in the other hand, her sensibly clad feet in motion as she steps towards the photographer. Her suit, with its striking check, balances the fashionable conventions of 1918 with a masculine twist in the shirtfront and bow collar. Her light, feminine hat adds to the ambiguity and tension in the outfit.
What do you think? Chic androgyny? Typical late-teens frumpiness made worse with gender-blending?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.