I truly never know what you will make of a dress! I thought that last week’s sheer red aerophane number would be just too wacky. The 1820s are such a wacky era to start with, and this was a particularly out-there example. But, while it only managed one 10, the overall reaction was very enthusiastic. A few of you couldn’t get past the part where our modern mind screams ‘but her undergarments are showing!’ (trust me, that’s not how it would have been seen in period – I think I’m clearly due up to do a whole post about that!), but despite that (I know, it is so hard to stop looking at things from a modern perspective, and try to imagine it in period, I catch myself doing it all the time – like the way I hate fringe 😉 ) it came in at an eminently respectable (heh heh) 7.8 out of 10.
This week I’m staying within the same general colour scheme, and sticking to a fabric with a similar shot effect.
This afternoon or reception dress by New York based dressmaker Martha J de la Mater combines chrysanthemum patterned silk brocade, russet brown shot silk taffeta, bead fringing, and fanciful, almost theatrical, even for the 1870s, skirt draping.
The chrysanthemum patterned silk brocade shows the influence of Japononisme, quickly becoming popular in the wake of Japans opening its borders to the West after centuries of enforced isolation. Japanese goods and artwork had been trickling into the West since Commodore Perry and the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, and were prominently featured at the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, setting off a huge craze for all things Japanese in America.
The dress isn’t quite complete, as it’s clearly missing its buttons, and would have benefited from a bit more in the way of skirt supports, but hopefully you can look past these to envision it in its prime.
What do you think? A gorgeous showcase of how up-to-date the wearer was, or a misplaced mania for the newest fad?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10