Rate the Dress: Batgirl goes Victorian

I suspect that y’all found last week’s featured Cranach rather boring.  Seven votes in it, and it rated a 7.8.  I grovel in front of you and humbly beg your apologies.

And then cross my fingers and hope like heck that you don’t find this weeks Rate the Dress equally boring.

It is, after all, a fashion sketch, in black and white.  But oh, such an interesting subject!

It’s an 1880’s batgirl costume!  What do you think?  Are short, pleated skirts, and bats at bust, temple, and shoe fronts fabulous, or fail-worthy?

Rate the dress on a scale of 1 to 10

Rate the Dress: Maria Alexandranova in double

No one could agree on anything from last week’s Rate the Dress.  Some loved the colours, some didn’t.  Some thought the sleeves too big, others adored them.  The low neckline and high camisa were popular with some readers, and deemed awkward by others.  And while some of you thought the model looked astonishingly modern and real, others found her a bit, well, red-eyed vampirish.  All in all, Bronzini’s Lady in Green rated an 8.4 out of 10.

This week I present something entirely unprecedented: one woman, in one ensemble, as portrayed by two different artists.  You already know the artists and the model as you have rated Maria Alexandrovna in the past (she got a 6.5).

Both Winterhalter and Ivan Makarov painted Maria Alexandrovna (yes, the Victorian Kristen Stewart) in a muted ensemble, lavishly trimmed in lace, and draped in pearls.

I haven’t been able to determine if one portrait was taken from the other, or if both painters painted Maria from life (and if so, at the same time?). Certainly the poses and fall of the draperies are suspiciously similar, though Winterhalter’s portrait implies the dress has a skirt of full tiers of lace, and Makarov’s portrait implies that the silk satin of the dress is blue-grey in colour.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Portrait of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, 1857, Hermitage

Ivan Makarov, Portrait of Empress Maria Alexandrovna, ca 1857

So, a challenge for you dear readers! You have already rated Maria Alexandrovna once. Now you get the opportunity to see her in a whole new light. Or lights. How do you feel about the dress now that you can see how two different artists saw and painted it? Would you have liked one version, but not the other?  Will she rate better than she did in the past?

And how do you Rate the Dress on a scale of 1 to 10 based on the combined effect?

Cool new resources

I’ve discovered some great new or new-ish resources on the internet.

First, I’ve known about the Textile Blog for a while now.  It’s a fantastic resources, and all of the articles are well researched, with the sources listed (something I need to aspire to – the source listing, not the research)

The blog has had a recent upgrade, which includes a list of every textile related exhibitions on now at pretty much every museum, everywhere (OK, they are missing at least one that I know of).  I haven’t figured out a logic to the order yet, but it’s still a great resource.  Unfortunately, it makes me wish I could travel just about everywhere to see just about every exhibition!

Tschetschka head scarf, from the famous textile production village of Pavlov Possad, near Moscow, Russia.

Second, I’ve found an exciting new blog.  It’s the blog I want to write but don’t have time for: Historical Fancy Dress.  It’s still new, so we’ll have to watch and see how good it turns out to be, but so far the indications are very promising.

Two Victorian ladies and a child in a fancy dress. I recognise the little girl as a Spanish Lady and the Deck of Cards, but the central one eludes me.

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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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