Last week: a 1770s crewel embroidered Robe a la Française
When this Française first made its debut on the internet it received nothing but rave reviews on every forum. You’re a tough crowd though.
Some of you gave it top marks for its uniqueness, but quite a few of you were not wowed. You found it too costume-y, cartoon-y, clumsy, and Christmas-y (kaftan-y was a good thing though!).
The Total: 7.7 out of 10
A polarising pick, with a meh result. Will this week do better?
This week: a pale blue paisley ca. 1860 ballgown
Last week’s dress featured cypress. Cypress trees are an important symbol in Zoroastrianism, and often feature in the Zoroastrian art. They appear in Indian art after the Zoroastrian exodus to India after the rise of Islam in the Middle East, and are probably one of the motifs that led to the development of the boteh or paisley design. So it’s fitting (at least according to the logic of my brain) that this week’s Rate the Dress should feature paisley.
This ca. 1860 dress is made from a spectacular paisley-themed jacquared-woven brocaded silk.
While the scale, shape, and arrangement of the paisley motifs are typical of the 1850s & 60s, the colour is so unusual in combination with the design that I would have assumed this dress was a film costume, if not for its excellent provenance, and impeccably period details in every other respect.
Most early-mid Victorian paisleys come in a combination of warm hues, with frequent uses of red and orange. Beyond the archetypical kashmiri shawl, boteh designs were usually seen on informal wrappers for men and women, or, in white-on-white, in undergarments. There are a few other gowns that feature simple appliquéd paisley motifs, but this fabric, with its silvery blues, is almost as unique for its timeperiod as last week’s cypress.
Other than the striking paisley fabric, the ballgown is quite typical of high-end mid century construction. It features a frothy berthe, delicate sleeves made of puffs of tulle and loops of picot-edged ribbon, and a sharply pointed bodice, finished with a double row of piping.
The photographs that the Metropolitan Museum of Art provides sadly do not include a back view, but they do show the dress in a range of colours. I think of an array like this of showing the range of true colours a garment can have, depending on the lighting it was seen with. I certainly have clothes that look very different by day (and even time of day), candlelight, and different artificial lights.
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10
A reminder about rating – feel free to be critical if you don’t like a thing, but make sure that your comments aren’t actually insulting to those who do like a garment. Our different tastes are what make Rate the Dress so interesting. However it’s no fun when a comment implies that anyone who doesn’t agree with it, or who would wear a garment, is totally lacking in taste.
(as usual, nothing more complicated than a .5. I also hugely appreciate it if you only do one rating, and set it on a line at the very end of your comment, so I can find it! Thanks in advance!)