I’ve been on a bit of a roll lately – two extremely popular Rate the Dresses in a row! Last week’s Florentine noblewoman in green sailed in with a spectacular 9.3 out of 10, just missing out on pipping the princess from a fortnight before to the post – much to my disappointment, as I personally LOVE the green dress, and give it a perfect 10. (actually, if we include my scores, the princess drops to 9.3 and this bumps up to 9.4 😉 )
Oddly enough, my favourite things about the painting – the reality of the partlet strings, and the faithfulness with which the artist rendered the sitters hands, rather than turning them into generic, idealised hands, were also the things it was most criticised for.
This dress, from the (envy-inspiring) collection of Alexandre Vasilliev, would be a fairly unremarkable example of 1860s fashion, in a classic pairing of red and grey, were it not for the spectacular trompe-l’oeil floral and ribbon pattern bordering the skirt.
The lush floral pattern, whether it is printed on or woven-in, is an extravagant display of the technological advances in dyeing, printing and fabric weaving that characterised the mid-19th century. The design, with its lavish use of colour, is absolutely typical of mid-century taste, and links the simpler silhouette and main overall colour of the dress to the desire for the new that would make any innovation, no matter how ostentatious, popular.
The florals and colours of the dress are echoed in the bonnet it is shown with, linking back to the natural imagery and the ribbon motif.
What do you think? A good balance of modesty and ostentation, or gauche and showy?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10