I rather expected that last week’s 1810s Rate the Dress wouldn’t be hugely popular, not in the sense that people wouldn’t like it, but in the sense that it wouldn’t attract lots of comments. It’s not the type of outfit that’s usually super popular in terms of commenting, and it’s a portrait. But, even without a lot of comments we had a lively (if small) discussion anyway.
In general the shawl and coral got high marks, the colour scheme got the overall nod of approval, and people were torn on the ruff. But good parts do not necessarily make a good whole, and while many of you enjoyed its understated elegance (to paraphrase Daniel), not everybody was onboard with the full ensemble, so the outfit managed a 7.8 out of 10.
(I think it might amuse you to know that I picked the painting because I was thinking of the Bonaparte family as being the Kardashians of the 1800s (powerful, divisive, and in the eyes of some, rather vulgar), and that if this was Caroline, it was her trying to separate herself both politically, and, through the portrait, aesthetically. Btw, go back and look at her. She could be a Kardashian!)
This week’s Historicism themed Rate the Dress (because there is so much variety in historicism, how could I not use it as a theme all month!) is an 1850s ball gown from the Helen Larson historic costume collection which very obviously references the 18th century.
While classically 1850s in its silhouette, the dress is replete with Rococo detailing, from the ‘stomacher’ effect of the bodice front, to the overskirt which opens over a petticoat with scalloped ruffles. Unlike their 18th century counterparts, which would have been left with raw pinked edges, these scallops are almost certainly machine made: the product of industrial revolution advances.
In addition to looking back to the 18th century, the gown foreshadows its own historicism-ization: when mid 1910s and early 1920s fashions looked to the mid-19th century crinoline era for inspiration. The wreath decorations of the skirt are so typical of the type of ornamentation that was borrowed and utilised in the late teens and 20s that they look almost anachronistic in their own era on this dress.
What do you think of this mid-19th century reinterpretation of the fashions of a century before? Are you a fan of early Rococo revival?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10