Oh dearie me! Last week I showed you a wedding dress in deep, rich aubergine, with a very assymetrical skirt that was dubbed: sloppy, saggy, limp, crushed, and like ‘stockings that got one leg twisted when you put them on’. Poor bride! Poor dress, and a very sad 5.5 out of 10.
Some the criticism of the aubergine dress was of how limp and crumpled it looked, which is partly a product of time: you may have liked it a lot better had you seen it worn in the mid 1880s. For this week’s Rate the Dress we’re going back just a couple of years and looking at a dress that is as fresh and crisp today as it was in 1877 – because it’s a painting.
Jules James Rougeron (1841-1880) painted sweet, romantic genre scenes that met the popular taste for undemanding works that featured pretty women in pretty frocks. His works appealed to the same audience as his contemporary, Tissot, though Rougeron was, and is, less famous.
In “Toilette” Rougeron depicts a fashionably dressed woman admiring herself as she ties on her bonnet. Her side view, and focus on herself in the mirror, present her as an object to be gazed upon and admired, and emphasize the focus on her attire, rather than her as a person.
The model’s frock is the height of fashion for 1877, with the prominent bustle of the first bustle period just beginning to be restrained into what would emerge as the natural form silhouette.
The full underskirt of the dress clearly shows the influence of the wider skirts of the earlier 1870s.
The dress was probably a combination of an actual dress and artistic fantasy: the dresses in Rougeron’s paintings share distinct similarities in fit and drape, with details changed from painting to painting, suggesting that he was using the same frocks as a base for his inspiration.
What do you think? Is Rougeron’s rose-bedecked fantasy the epitome of romantic elegance, or revoltingly saccharine?
Rate the dress on a Scale of 1 to 10