Monday, August 16, 2010

A Summer Symphony in White

I am usually not terribly fond of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century clothing, as it compares to eighteenth-century clothing. Too delicate, too simpering. Not enough pomp and and assertiveness, a bit too feminine. Less, it seems to me, personality. Not as vivacious.

But these ethereal concoctions caught my eye. The image is nabbed from the Met's Costume Institute site, the French dresses dated to roughly 1805-1810. What a difference from the fasion of a mere twenty-five years earlier--these little lovelies wouldn't have been weighed down by heavily boned stays, padded rumps or paniers, or layers of petticoat. No, the wearers probably wore lightly boned little stays (think of the difference between a training bra and an underwire push-up and you'll have the idea of Regency stays compared to Georgian stays) over a lightweight chemise. Their hair would have been dressed softly and simply, forgoing the extravagant height and width of eighteenth-century hair excess. I imagine being doe-eyed was a requirement for wearing these, don't you?

And look at the simplicity of the design--decorated with white embroidery on white cotton. And such incredible white cotton--it looks like it's spun of air and cloud, doesn't it? Cotton was coming into its own as an inexpensive fabric after the invention of the cotton gin (before that time it was pricey--just below silk in the pecking order of fine fabric). Yet this is still fine, top-notch cotton--I wish you could find its equal today.

Could it be I've gone soft? Am developping a taste for dainty clothing?

Or perhaps I'm actually beginning to wilt from the heat and can imagine these ensembles being absolutely perfect for a summer evening? Yes, I do believe that's it.

10 comments:

sharmon said...

I adore the empire waists though I didn't use to. But there is something very sensual about these innocents running around in what is essentially a nightgown--and a little risque! Okay, I overdosed on Sense and Sensibility when I had the flu last winter, but still...

Kat Zhang said...

I must admit I have a fondness for these kind of dresses. I like their simple elegance and how they seem to pull from the Greek and Roman styles. :)

PS my "word verification" is "hydrepro" Lol. Maybe I'm lacking in sleep, but that struck me as hilariously close to "hylapro" or "hyaline prosaic" hehehe...

Okay, this lack of sleep is definitely getting to me!

Noelle Pierce said...

I love this era of clothing, though I can see the beauty in Georgian dress, too (not the hair or powder in the Georgian. NOT a fan of those. And putting glue in one's hair? oh, but we're talking more Regency, so I'll get back on topic.)

I didn't like the patterns they used, but the gauze-like muslin is very inspiring to me. And I see blue-eyed, blonde-haired china dolls in them, though doe-eyed is certainly good, too.

Corra McFeydon said...

Lovely! (Sorry I haven't anything more detailed to say. I don't know anything about sewing or Georgian dresses.)

But I like reading your posts. :-)

- Corra

Rowenna said...

Sharmon--I know, I'm developping an appreciation for this silhouette that I didn't really have before :)

Kat--I do like the classical influence, which is really strong in these particular dresses, I think! Hydrapro sounds like a like an irrigation company lol!

Noelle--certainly china dolls of one kind or another--blue-eyed damsels or doe-eyed maids :)

Corra--Thanks :)

mesmered said...

Beautiful gowns, ethereal fabric and white on white embroidery, one of my favourite combinations. The fantastic thought for me is that all embroidery would have been done by hand . . . wonderful!

Rowenna said...

mesmered, I know--such artistry in both the construction and the decoration!

Lua said...

Oh no- it’s not that you’re going soft, it’s just that those dresses are fascinating! :)

Miss Rosemary said...

I'm generally with you as well and am not a fan of those 19th C clothing. Those are pretty nice though. They remind me of my friend's wedding dress.

Rowenna said...

Lua--they're just so simple but beautiful--glad you enjoyed them, too!

Rosemary--I think that may be part of why I like them--there's a definite timelessness to them. They remind me, as Kat said, of Greco-Roman clothing, or of early twentieth century gowns (think Titanic) or of modern wedding gowns.