For last week’s Rate the Dress I showed you menswear, and like most menswear Rate the Dresses, it wasn’t that popular in terms of votes and comments – it’s not that those that commented didn’t like it, just that very few of you commented. I think we don’t really know what to do with menswear. We’re so used to it being boring that super exciting and embellished historical examples are a bit weird and scary, and more restrained historical examples are, well, boring.
The 1840s summer whites of last week straddled the line between weird and boring, but did it fairly well, so, despite slightly odd proportions, and an overall pyjama-y look, they managed a quite respectable 8 out of 10.
I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted to show you this week, but every example I found was in white or ecru, and I thought that, as a contrast to last week, I should probably find something that was a colour.
In the end, I’ve succeeded in finding an option that 1) isn’t quite what I was looking for, 2) is still mostly white, and 3) has small, not fantastic quality photos. But, it is a fantastically interesting garment, so hopefully that will make up for the first three!
This early bustle dress byMmes Kerteux Soeurs (a Parisian fashion house that lasted from the late 1860s until the 1910s, and supplied dresses to the same client base as Doucet, Pingat, and even Worth) from the Museum of London features pink and white striped silk, with a front ‘apron’ of the same silk embellished with wide pink silk ribbons with lace butterfly motifs. The same ribbon and lace trim fans out over the bodice, and an elaborate pink and black silk bow or rosette ornaments the waistband.
At the back of the dress, the skirt front closes over the fullness of the back skirt, fastening with bows of pink and black. The ornamentation of the bodice front has also carried from front to back over the shoulders, turning into a wide bertha effect.
The use of the wide striped front piece, with stripes that turn at the corners of the panel is almost reminiscent of late 17th and early 18th century mantua (such as this example, or this example), with both the layout of the stripes, and the layering of overskirt and underskirt inverted. Here, the stripes form corners at the top of the skirt, rather than the bottom, and the front of the skirt drapes over the back, rather than sitting under it.
Whether the historicism is intentional or not, this dress is certainly an interesting example of the transitional styles of ca. 1870, with the wide elliptical hoopskirts of the 1860s moving into the back emphasis of the first bustle era.
What do you think? Is it fresh and interesting, and would the wearer have looked quite fetching at her ball, or is it just fussy?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10