Let me tell you a story

It’s quite engrossing…

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com

With moments of pathos:

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com

And drama:

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com

Moments of humour:

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com

And scenes that take your breath away:

The 1860s Greek Key afternoon dress thedreamstress.com

I suspect that Theresa read an entirely different story though:

Hmmm….

1850s Raspberry swirl gown thedreamstress.com

Ooooh…

1850s Raspberry swirl gown thedreamstress.com

Gasp!

1850s Raspberry swirl gown thedreamstress.com

Rate the Dress: Toulmouche’s 1870s Blue Dress

Well, if last week’s stripey Doucet Rate the Dress taught me anything, it’s that I can never predict how you will react to a particular garment!

I thought last week’s dress was awkward, blatant, incredibly boring for something that should have been bold, and really poorly done, especially in the bodice and the stripe transitions.  It’s only saving grace was a really lovely collar/neckline, paired with an unusual and quite modern sleeve.  A handful of you agreed with me, but most of you were extremely enthusiastic (in full caps with exclamation marks) about the outfit, and brought the rating up to a sparkling 9 out of 10 (you agreed with me on the shoes though, as the rating goes up to 9.2 if it is paired with them!).

This fortnight’s theme on the HSF is ‘Art’, which leaves the field wide open for all sorts of fabulous ‘Rate the Dress’ options.  This week I’ve picked a frock artist: one more known for painting elaborate gowns than for capturing evocative likenesses.

While not as famous as Tissot among the costuming community, Toulmouche also created sumptuous records of the (possibly slightly romanticised) fashions of the 1860-80s.  Here we have his aptly named ‘The Blue Dress’, which shows a girl in the titular frock impatiently checking the clock: someone is late for a rendezvous.

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress

The gown has a shockingly low back, framed with a border of pale gold and a frill of delicate lace.  A hint of lace indicates that the front neckline is equally revealing.  The sleeves and peplum-tail of the skirt are also picked out in light gold.  There is a hint of Renaissance historicism in the white undersleeve.  A perfectly matched bow ornaments the model’s dark hair.

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

The bustled train is pulled back with a bow of the same light gold, revealing a lighter blue underskirt.

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

The heavy satin underskirt is trimmed with three rows of self-fabric ruffles, backed in the light gold.

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The Blue Dress (detail)

What do you think?  Is the pairing of sweet hair bow, sophisticated neckline, sumptuous train and frilly skirt, plus historicism, just too much, or do all the elements build up to one glorious, harmonious outfit?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10.

Let there be light!

In the last half hour of my crinolines photoshoot with Theresa (of Existimatio), the sun began to set over the hills of Wellington and lit up the rather spectacular cloud formations in glowing azure and gold.

The 1860s Greek Key tea gown thedreamstress.com

Theresa was madly snapping away, capturing me and the sky, and the gorgeous, glowing light over the city.

The 1860s Greek Key tea gown thedreamstress.com

Suddenly she had an idea.  “Stand right there and let me get your profile against the sun!”

The 1860s Greek Key tea gown thedreamstress.com

So she snapped away, making “Ooooh” noises and telling me to move just a wee bit forward or a wee bit back,* until I became envious and said “Me, Me, Me!  My turn!  I want to try it on you!”

But all I got were photos where Theresa’s hair looked like it was on fire:

1850s Raspberry swirl gown thedreamstress.com

Then I had an idea.  “Raise your hand…no…the far one…yep, that’s just right..now click your fingers”

“Perfect!  Now LET THERE BE LIGHT!”

And there was.

1850s Raspberry swirl gown thedreamstress.com
When Theresa saw the pictures she said “Oh my god, you’re such a dork!”

Yep, and a happy one at that!

These pictures particularly amuse me because we played ‘Let there be light’ at our last photoshoot as well, but that time it was Theresa’s idea!

 

*ironically, I don’t like most of the photos of me against the sunset because I have a love/hate relationship with my profile, the fit issues with the Greek Key bodice really bug me, and my hair was beginning to fall out and looks messy and made my bonnet sit wrong

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Meet the Dreamstress

Leimomi Oakes is the Dreamstress, a textile historian, seamstress, designer, speaker and museum professional. Leimomi is available for educational and entertaining presentations, textile and fashion advice, special commissions and events. Click to learn more

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