Thursday, December 16, 2010

Golden Gowns

The Christmas season makes me think about parties. Swanky cocktail parties, cosy dinner parties, grand balls. Who doesn't love an excuse for a party--and what better excuse than Christmas (I mean, the house is already decorated, right?)

And Christmas parties got me thinking about Christmas-party-perfect gowns. So I went shopping in history. Which is the safest place to shop if you love beautiful things but don't want to risk actually buying anything.

And as I browsed, thinking about festively festooning oneself, I decided that red and green are a touch tired. I think I read in some fashion magazine that gold is "in" this year (it was out? Gold can be in or out? I thought it was know...a metal). So I decided to present several options in shades of gold and white.

First up, a late 1790s round gown, nearly all ethereal white (doesn't it look heavenly, that fabric? Like clouds--they knew how to produce truly beautiful yet simple fabrics). But the gold trim adds a touch of "this is something special."

I love how this particular gown really shows the shape of the turn of the nineteenth century--the high waist, yes, but also the flatness across the bosom--a woman would have worn short stays or transitional stays with this gown, compressing her front a bit and, well, lifting the assets. Also--prime display of the enhanced fullness at the back. The lady who wore this dress for formal occassions likely used a bum pad to enhance the derriere, and the beautiful draping of the skirt.

This next piece is much less subdued--I love the dark gold fabric! I tend to shy away from 1820s dresses like this--the sleeves can come off as silly affectations, the general shape with the rounded shoulders a touch too simpering for me. But this piece stays simple, exaggerated sleeves aside, and really lets the fabric shine.

I confess a fondness for this next piece. It's a regal 1880s ballgown, and even though there is *almost* too much going on, it keeps a level head. Until someone pinned a red flower to it. Then it hits swoonworthy.

I would love to get a closer look to see how the creator of this gown acheived the layers of sheer fabric gathered just-so over the striking gold. The pattern created by this effect is just astonishing. I also love these sleeves--they're like throwbacks to the elegant engageantes of the eighteenth century.

Finally, as we turn to the twentieth century, a final golden gown. I could take or leave the lace at the neckline and sleeves, but that fabric! It's a work of art in itself (appears from close-ups to be embroidery on shimmery silk, but it's difficult to tell--any ideas?), and they way the gown plays on the pattern is gorgeous.

Pick a favorite! I'd love to know which golden gown would be the chosen ensemble for my readers. And where you'd wear it! Any golden gowns of your own?

PS Don't forget to enter to win free books, just in time for snow days!


Noelle Pierce said...

Wow,these are gorgeous! Which one would I wear? It would be a tie between the last two, I think. As beautiful as the first one is, white does not suit me in clothing. Especially not that much white. The second one's sleeves were too much for me, given that my shoulders are fairly wide already. But the sleeves on both #3 and #4 are breathtaking.

As for where I'd wear them? In my house, going up and down my staircase in a regal manner. I have no where else to go. :(

Nicole MacDonald said...

I'd wear the last one or the first - wow what beautiful pictures! Hard to believe we used to get around in such large amounts of fabric ;)

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Rowenna said...

Noelle--I'll tell you what, if we get gowns like this, we're making an occasion to wear them!

Nicole--It is a lot of fabric--but imagine the lovely swishing, rustling sounds it would make!

Connie said...

Sigh. How lovely. I'd wear any of them, even if I had no wear to go. I'd just stare in the mirror and dream. :)

The Dreamstress said...

Definitely the fourth one! Totally my period!

Rowenna said...

Connie--we'd find somewhere for you to go (unless you'd rather stick with the mirror :) )

Dreamstress--the fourth one is gorgeous--and really, really gold!