I’ve been super-busy with the house: cleaning, fixing, maintaining and swapping the bedroom with the sewing studio/office. And there are a number of home dec sewing plans and projects in the works. It’s also been uncomfortably hot and that’s sapped my energy. So I haven’t had much to post in the way of “what I’ve been up to lately” topics. (I can’t imagine anyone being fascinated with the demise of dust bunnies or whether the armchair looks better on the left or the right of my sofa. If you are, this is how serious problems start – please check your phone book for psychiatric help hotlines now.)
This doesn’t mean I’ve been ignoring historical fashion. Far from it. I’m still researching and collecting images of extant garments, learning more tidbits about different eras, and the like.
When it comes to historical fashion, I’d seen fumbled identifications and incorrect attributions long before I started learning about fashions from different eras and how to reconstruct them. After all, even I knew that athletic shoes aren’t accurate for ancient dress and shimmering polyester fluff wasn’t around during the Civil War.
The further along I get in this passion/hobby thing, the easier it becomes for me to recognize an error, or at least question an identification – even if it’s from a museum curator. Pretty nervy of little ol’ me, huh?
And I figure that if I have questions, so will someone else. Perhaps a lot of someone elses. (Or is that “someones else”?) And wouldn’t it be great to have a forum in which to kick things around?
So I’m establishing a dedicated “Riddle Me This” post each month to present examples and share what I can or cannot find out about them. I don’t have tons of time for an in-depth analysis so this will be a bit more like doing a light-weight historical fashion case study, if you will.
Be advised, however, unless it is an exceptionally egregious case (or I get fooled – again), I won’t include the movie-costume-presented-as-genuine-extant-garment phenomenon. I’d never leave the keyboard if I did.
I’m launching this endeavor with a little something on Pinterest that caught my eye last month and startled me so much that my brain started wracking its fledgling fashion database and nearly seized up.
This was originally posted by Alain R. Troung on his website, 3 January 2013. At that time, the gown was owned by a collector in Montreal, Canada. Now, Mr. Troung isn’t just some armchair hobbyist. Far from it. He’s been in “the biz” a long time. But still… (No offense intended, Mr. Troung. I’m just trying to learn, d’accord?)
“Regency Revival Tea Gown, ca. 1910”
tulle brodé de fleurettes jaune citron, fond de robe en satin crème. Corsage taille haute à manches longues ajustées, empiècement plissé souligné d’un arc de fleurs stylisées en soutache argent et application de satin. Jupe évasée à traîne longue brodée de palmes et festons, (petits trous au satin).
lemon yellow tulle embroidered in flowers, over a dress of cream satin. High-waisted bodice with fitted long sleeves, pleated arc of stylized flowers in silver braid on satin. Long skirt rain embroidered with palms and swags, (small holes in the satin).
My problems with this are:
The fashion world of 1910 did indeed experience a Regency Revival, so I don’t question that. But the Regency Revival gowns of the time looked like these, which definitely hail back to Regency fashions:
However, as far as I know, Regency never looked like the lemon yellow tea dress in question. But Aesthetic Dress/Artistic Reform did. It started in the 1860’s (although examples can be found in paintings as early at the 1850’s in Britain) and ran through the early 1910’s. Aesthetic Movement dresses looked like these around the time in question:
That’s quite some difference, isn’t it?The Aesthetic Movement was all about eschewing artificial shape: no bustles and no corsets. Gowns featured free-shape embroidery. Natural dyes were favored. Nicely distilled concise and comprehensive information is available on fashion-era.com.
1910 was toward the end of this fashion revolt against the constrained and artificial predecessors, so the timing for the lemon yellow tea dress is right, as are the colors, fabrics, embroidery elements and trim. And it just doesn’t look “Regency” to my eyes.
So…what is it really?
I’m voting for an Aesthetic Movement dress mistakenly identified as Regency Revival, because it meets all the criteria of the former and nothing I can see of the latter. The embroidery details definitely look Edwardian to me – especially that tiered arc of crocheted circles under the arc on the front bodice. And the overall shape of the torso is loosely defined, i.e., no corset necessary.
What do you think?
Where would you place it – and why? Does anyone know of an “official” identification which supports solid placement in either camp?
PS – The photos are credited as: “Photo Coutau-Begarie” with further credits presented on Mr. Troung’s website – Coutau-Begarie. Mercredi 16 janvier 2013. Drouot Richelieu – Salle 1 – 9, rue Drouot – 75009 Paris http://www.coutaubegarie.com/