20th Century, Textiles & Costume

A different kind of robe a la francaise

In addition to all the recreation dresses that were in last Saturday’s talk, I used some real vintage garments as well.

I own this beautiful early 1930s rayon robe, made in Japan for the Western market.

The theme of Saturday’s talk was The Eastern influence on Western fashion, with a focus on Japonisme and Chinoiserie, so what could be better than a kimono inspired robe made in Japan for the Western market?

Madame O has a beautiful 1940s peach pink negligee that paired perfectly with the robe (and being the darling that she is, of course she was willing to let me use it for the talk).

The only thing we needed was a model.

I got asked to do Saturday’s talk at the last minute, and coordinating models was touch and go the whole time.

Enter Mrs C and Hortense (you have to say her name in the most glamorous French accent possible).

Hortense is a French exchange student who came to Saturday’s conference with her host.  Mrs C found her, pounced on her, declared she would be the perfect model, and presented her when I arrived.

Oohhh la la!

Is she gorgeous or what?

She was an absolute darling backstage, beautiful and poised onstage, and gorgeous during the photoshoot.

Occasionally I had to tell her not to be such a good model though!

I’m happy with my blog looking a little less professional and Vogue and a little simpler and more Dreamy.

Miss Elisabeth, the Sewphist, lent her wedding shoes to go with the negligee and robe.  Very sweet!

I love the late 40s negligee – it’s more sweet than sultry, and works perfectly with the unusual orange of the robe.

Mrs C did Hortense’s (remember, glorious French accent!) hair in 40’s poofs

The robe isn’t a particularly high quality example – it’s rayon crepe rather than silk, and the embroidery is very large and rough.

This doesn’t lessen its charm for me in the least bit – I like the ‘ordinary’ vintage bits as much as the extraordinary ones, and it’s interesting for me to know that exports from Japan were so common that there were lesser quality items being produced for the Western market.

The black lining around the edges of the sleeves and the robe front hints at the robes inspiration, and the layers of kimono that would have been worn in Japan.

I love peaches and pinks and apricots, in flowers and clothes.

And one last image of the exquisite Hortense

And some details of the robe:

Thank you so, so much Hortense!  You were wonderful!


  1. I have one of these robes that I was told was my great grandmother’s. It’s silk, but just black, not nearly such a pretty color as yours. I haven’t pulled it out of the back of the closet for ages. Thank you so much for posting this and reminding me it’s there! And Hortense does look lovely, the peachy color of the robe is perfect on her!

    • Ooh, I’d love it if you posted about it! And knowing that it was your great grandmothers would help to date this type of robes!

  2. How pretty – the colours of the clothes, the model and the setting all compliment each other!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! It’s giving me lots of ideas for thinking through costumes for our history presentations!

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