I’m running a bit late, so I haven’t tallied the totals for last week yet, but I’ll get to those shortly.
For this week’s Rate the Dress I present someone who is undeniable awesome: Emily Warren Roebling. Emily is famous as the Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge. Her father in law started the bridge, but when he died her husband took it over. He became extremely ill with decompression sickness, Emily looked at the bridge and though ‘yep, I can do this.’ For the next fourteen years, Emily oversaw every aspect of the bridge’s construction, from calculating the curves needed, to testing the materials used, to liaising with everyone from the workers to the politicians.
When the bridge was finally finished, Emily didn’t rest on her laurels: instead she helped with relief efforts during the Spanish American War, helped organise a World’s Fair, travelled extensively, and got a law degree from New York University (while she was in her 50s or 60s). As you do.
From a Rate the Dress awesome perspective, Emily gives us a unique opportunity to Rate a Dress in all possible views.
Here is Emily at the time of her presentation to Queen Victoria in 1896 by Carolus-Duran:
She wears a yellow silk satin with white lace sleeves, and brocaded or embroidered skirt presentation gown with a mauve velvet court train. On her head are the prerequisite ostrich feathers and veil, and on one arm the required full length glove. Her other glove must be held out of view in the other hand, which holds up her train.
And here is Emily in the same outfit, in real life:
Carolus-Duran’s portrait may have been painted in large part from this photograph, or from another from the series.
But wait, there is more!
Here is the extent ensemble:
The gown is possibly by Worth, and as you can see, it has many details that do not make it into Carolus-Duran’s painting: the embroidery of the underskirt and bodice is simplified into subtle texture, the train and skirt ornamentation omitted entirely, keeping the focus on the sitter, rather than the dress.
We’re looking at the dress (well, the whole ensemble) today though. As an example of the ultimate in 1890s formalwear for a woman of a certain age (Emily was in her 50s), does the court gown hold up? Is it suitable regal and elegant?
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