Last week I showed you a late 17th century ‘seamstress’ in pink petticoat and golden brown mantua, her dress covered by her sewing apron. Her sewing apron received a lot of flack for being so little, which I didn’t understand – it’s not like you really get dirty sewing! You just want something big enough to have a few pockets to hold things and a place to catch any little threads you cut off!
In addition to the apron, very few of you liked the colours, or the overall proportions, or the headgear, dragging the score down to 6.4 out of 10
One of the criticisms about the fashion plate was that you can’t see the details, so this week we’re looking at a dress that while simple in silhouette, is all about the details. This dress from the Victoria & Albert Museum features black embroidery with geometric and floral motifs, highlighted with steel beading, and is further trimmed with black silk and steel beading.
The silhouette of the dress is very typical of the mid 1860s, as is the teal green and black colour combination. Though achievable with natural dyes, the teal green is quite possible a new aniline dye, and may have faded with time.
Though much of the dress is quite standard for its timeperiod, there are a few unusual elements. The floral embroidery, though not unknown, is fairly uncommon in the 1860s, when dress patterning tended to be either woven in or printed on, while applied decorations were confined to more bold, geometric shapes, such as the twisted ribbon patterning the florals are paired with.
The sleeves of the dress are also rather unique, pairing the standard 1860s curved sleeves with a touch of Renaissance inspired slashing in the upper sleeves – a bit of historicism rarely seen in the 1860s.
What do you think? Does the combination of unexpected and unusual elements elevate the dress from a standard 1860s gown, or just create a weird mish-mash of disparate elements?
Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10