Good morning my devoted and fellow historic fashion lovers! It is that super exciting time again where we delve into the top four fashion publications of the period! I hear exciting things are happening in france with Alessandra, Germany with Sabine, and the other tastes of England with Natalie! I know for my part February holds some VERY interesting tidbits and tastes which we can see through the plate and their descriptions but also through a wonderously detailed letter from our lover of fashion, Belinda.
Lets get to it! I want to note first that this is one of my favorite fashion plates of all time, and one day I wish to recreate it.
|She is just so coy, and cozy!|
Plate 11: Promenade or Carriage Costume.
A military coat or pelisse (1) of amber-colored velvet, or merino cloth (2), with Spanish cuffs (3), and high fluted collar, trimmed entirely round with astracan fur. A round tippet of the same, and ridicule composed of the same material as the coat. An algerine helmet cap (4) of the same, blended with astracan fur, ornamented in front with an amber crescent and chain of silver. Gloves a pale tan color and half-boots of amber coloured kid.
1) This one is rather obvious but I wanted to point out the same what can be defined as "military", which is the braiding across the front. I find it insteresting it isn't defined what makes the braiding in this caption, but given the other things I have been able to see in this publication I can make an educated guess for "chinese cord" I would also like to make note that the term "COAT" and "PELISSE" are used together to describe essentially the same garment.
2) Merino cloth, as is beautiful warm, soft, yummy, merino wool made from the sheep bearing the same name. If you have ever felt merino wool, you know this would be IDEAL in February.
3) If you look at her cuffs, they look very like pointed Cavalier style cuffs, which I suppose one things of in this period as "spanish".
4) Her hat is absolutely delightful, and very middle eastern looking. The googles, and my book Textiles in America also mention that Algerian is a kind of woolen cloth, but it is not a fabric term until the late 1870s, fyi. So, in this instance, they mean a garment out of Algeria - which makes sense given its very middle eastern/African looking roots, though the ornament on the front is very Turkish.
Plate 12: Evening or opera dresses.
First figure - A round robe (1) of white crape (2) or muslin with demi trained and imperial winged frill (3) of plaited lace. A circassian laced bodice (4) of American Green velvet (5), trimmed with Chinese cord (6), and confined at the bottom of the waist with a mother-of-pearl clasp. An Armenian head-dress (7) composed of white satin, with silver antique ornamented in front. Necklace consisting of a single row of large pearls with a cross of the same, suspended in the center bosom; the cuffs of the long sleeve ornamented with pearl. An Eastern mantle (8) of amber-coloured velvet, trimmed with swansdown. Shoes of velvet, the same as the bodice. Gloves, white kid.
Second Figure - A grecian frock (9) of celestial blue, or silver grey net, with full long sleeve, and biassed bosom (10); ornamented round the bottom and bosom with a vandyke border, composed of white velvet and beads; deep antique cuffs of the same. The robe worn over an under-dress of white satin. Head-dress composed of a french net veil (11), confined and ornamented in front of the forehead with a tiara of silver. Necklace and cross of white cornelian and gold earrings to correspond. Carmelite cloak (12), of light purple or violet velvet, lined and bordered with white ermine. Blue kid slippers, with silver clasps; and gloves of white kid.
1) As talked about in the last edition, a "round robe" is a gown closed in front or back, but goes all the way "round" the body to meet in either front or back. We will see it VERY often through our various publications. It is generally a term to describe "a dress" that has nothing special to it.
2) Crape with this spelling is defined in Textiles in America as 'A light transparent stuff, in the manner of gauze; made of raw silk, gummed and twisted on the mill, wove without crossing and mushc used in mourning'. It can also be noted that by this time, the early 19th century, there were new kinds of crape coming out; being woven with other materials such as wool.
3) Have you seen this thing? It is amazing. One can assume it is called "imperial" because it is huge. Also, it was used frequently by Empress Josephine, and IMHO she was pretty Impreial. This one is composed of lace, but others were of various fabrics, typically light weight to hold this shape with a ton of starch.
4) Here we see this term Circassian again. We, unfortunately, cannot see her bodice, but the term "Cricassian" is defined by the Googles as a 'Native inhabitant of Circassia' which is a region in the south Russian Federation, bordering the black sea. So, in your minds eye, or using the googles, try to imagine Eastern European "folkish" style and then put a bastardized English spin on it.
5) This one stumped me, but at the same time seemed so simple. Could it be so simple that it is just a green velvet imported by America? Or is there something more to it to make it "American Velvet." Do they mean the color is American? If you have any knowlede or input, please feel free to share in the comments!
6) Here is a term we will see again later down in the post, the term Chinese Cord. My thinking is that it has nothing to do with China other than the silk coming from China to make up the cord. And, it sounds fancy.
7) Here we have yet ANOTHER style of head-wear that is vaguely Middle Eastern. I am sensing a trend here. This plus the first plates "Algerine" cap with very Turkish ornament on the front gives the hint for a very Middle East friendly month. Does anyone know, history wise, what was happening with England in the Middle East and Africa in 1811? This may shed some light on the trends.
8) They didn't even try to put a reigon down for this number, just "middle eastern." A mantle in this instance is being used to describe what lookes like a rather shapeless shorter cape or cloak with no hood.
9) Here is the term "Grecian Frock" again, and yet, we cannot see any details of the gown to see what specifically makes it "Grecian." The hunt continues.
10) I am not sure what they mean by this term, perhaps it is cut on the bias for styles' sake?
11) It is very likely that this net was produced in france, and it is describing the net, not the shape of the veil.
12) This one excited me by its sleuthing becuse its a twofer! A Carmelite is an order of friars founded at Mt Carmel in PALESTINE! Again, middle easter influences! Also, it brings to mind a "Capuchin" cloak, or hood, which means a second garment inspired by a religious order. Romantic, much?
WHEW! What a lot of text to read! Have you made it this far? Congratulations! We are only halfway done. I know, right? For making it this far, here is an insanely adorable picture of my cat, Arthur.
|He sleeps like this a lot.|
Ok, ready to go back into it? Here we go with one of my favorite things to read in Ackermanns, the Letters!
[…] And so you really are engaged to two balls in February, and want to be instructed how best to array yourself for these important occasions! You are right in supposing that you must appear in slight mourning at the first and in colors (if you please) at the second (1). I will do my possibles to enable you to shine as the venus of the season which you may the more safely do with your faithful Jupiter as your attendant. To this end, I have ordered you two dresses. The first, a black frock of gossamer gauze (2), thickly studded with small cut steel beads; border and stomacher (3) to correspond. You must wear over it a slip of white satin, its texture being too clear to admit of its being extended over an under garment of less lustre. Your head ornaments are a cut steel bandeau and star (4). Your earrings, necklace, and bracelets may either consist of diamonds, pearl, or the satin bead (5). Your shoes are a simple white satin slipper, with cut steel clasps. Your gloves, white French kid. Your fan, carved ivory, with steel studs. This dress, I propose for your first ball, which you say will be very splendid. Your second dress I have chosen of bright amber crape (6). Its construction, a Grecian Frock (7); the gore seams (8), bottom bosom, and sleeves ornamented in a delicate border of blended white beads and bugles. You may wear it either over a white cambric (9) or white satin slip, with your pearl or gold ornaments. I have ordered a diadem of leaves, formed in white velvet, tranced with gold, and a broach and clasp of pearl. You will, of course, wear white gloves and shoes.
I shall now give you a few general observations, and then bid you good night. Every order of grey and lead colour blends with black sarsnet, velvet, muslin, nets, white crape, and leno (10), since a change of mourning has taken place. Robes (11) of grey muslin, embosses or twill sarsnet (12), black muslin or net, over white; black velvet with pearl, beads or steel ornaments, with falls of fine lace round the bosom and silver grey cloth robes (13), trimmed with velvet of the same colour, add to the pleasing variety which this style of mourning admits of; and will of course continue till the 11th of February (14), when the period of these public testimonies of regret expires. Coloured robes, pelisses, and mantles of every description, will the again emerge. Royal Purple (15), amber and silver grey pelisses and mantles will, it is supposed, be most fashionable, composed of sarsnet or of fine cloth, trimmed with velvet, chinese silk cord (16), or the Astracan fur. This latter article is eminently fashionable, and is used for decorating robes. Robes of white crape, trimmed with borders of white bugles or steel, and worn over coloured satin under-dresses are considered as elegant and select. The Algerine robe and vest is, however, the most novel style of habit which is not introduced. It consists of an embroidered vest and short petticoat of white satin, over which is a loose flowing robe, with long turkish sleeves, composed of azure net, or crape, starred with silver. (17) A silver diadem and star composed the head dress. A silver cestus embraces the waist; and sandal slippers of blue satin finish this splendid, but unique costume, which however is too singularly attractive to be generally adopted. Feathers are worn in spanish hats (18) of satin or velvet in evening dress; but the hair in full dress is more universal: it is now divided in front of the forehead, falling in curls on each side of the face, rather lower at the ears than has been observed for some months past. Fancy hats of cloth (19), the same as the pelisse, trimmed with astracan fur, or ornamented with feathers, blend with the old english helmet (20) and algerine turban (21); the latter of which we have just received from our milliners. There is nothing particularly new in jewelry, nor in the more humble orders of dress; therefore you will go on very well till my next, when i shall be able to give you from ocular demonstration, a more full account of those colours and articles which shall have received the stamp of fashion distinction. Adieu! In haste, but ever your,
1) See notation no. 14
2) See definition for gauze above and then spice it up with the term "gossamer" which infers it to be ever thinner and more delicate as well as loosely woven.
3) Here is that term stomacher again! Still no word on what they mean by that, or what I can imagine it to be. My thinking is still the flap of a drop front, or apron front gown which I have seen described as a "stomacher dress." If you have any ideas, please feel free to share in the comments!
4) It seems that for mourning and for winter cut steel is very fashionable. It is a good thing, considering I have a very fetching cut steel buckle I am keen to use.
5) Still no idea what a "satin bead" is. If you know, you know what to do! COMMENT!
6) The color Amber is THE color to wear it seems this month, and will be mentioned again later in the letter. Also, this shows that crape did not have to be necessarily black or white, but came in colors.
7) Here we are with the term Grecian Frock, but no way not to see anything. This term puzzles me and I am very desirous to know what they mean.
8) Wait, WHAT?! Decorating the "gore seams"? What on earth do they mean by "gore seams"?! On the skirt, on the bodice? Where are there gore seams on this kind of gown?! INPUT!
9) Cambric is described in Textiles in America as 'A fine white linen cloth in a plain weave.' Which I find disagreeing with what I always understood cambric to be, which was a slightly sized and stiffened cotton of a fine weave. Thoughts?
10) Leno is defined as 'A gauze weave in which warp yarns arranged in pairs cross and recross one another between pricks of weft. A structure in which rows or aeas of gauze weave are separated by, or combined with, areas of plain weave. ' Neat!
11) Here we see the term "robe" used just to describe a plain dress. Perhaps it was fashionable to do so, because of the desire for grecian influence.
12) Embossed or Twill Sarsnet, in other words a sarsnet with a twill weave and then embossed using hot copper plates, so I have been informed by books.
13) Gowns made out of wool! Its February, people, no one likes to be cold!
14) Here the period for mourning Princess Amelia has come to an end, though court continued it longer.
15) Royal Purple; not just any color of purple but the shade used most frequently by royalty. There seems to be no longer a sumptuary law about this.
16) Here we see that Chinese Silk Cord again, making it a little more clear that they are referencing the material, not the item.
17) WOW! An entire garment of a middle eastern flair, throwing a few different places together. What a neat fashion, though I wish I had a right proper image for it. We see the vests here and again, but no really good surviving examples. Perhaps it was too avante guarde for those of more simple means to waste their money on.
18) I remember the term spanish hat from last month, I believe, but still no clue about what makes it Spanish. The materials, or the shape?
19) Why..is it fancy?
20) Another mystery. What is an old English Helmet? Shako? Something that looks like a conquistador helmet? I am grasping at straws here.
21) Here we see again the Algerine term, this time for a turban, which I assume looks like the helmet in the promenade plate but turban style. How fetching.
You made it again! Congratulations! We are almost done, I promise. but haven't you enjoyed this? So much fun information! Here is another adorable picture of my cat for a reward.
Next up, we have one of the most important things Ackermann ever included for us researchers, and that is the fabric swatches!
No. 1 and 2. A rich furniture chintz for drawing-rooms, bourdoirs, and sleeping rooms (1). This lively and elegant article was designed by Mr. Allen, of Pall Mall, for the bed room furniture of his royal highness the prince of wales, at carlton-house. It is there most tastefully displayed, lined with silk, and fringe to correspond: but glazed calico linings (2), of blue, green, or pink, are used for general wear.
No. 3. A bright orange shot satin (3), for dress robes, tunics, and bodices. Trimmings of thread lace, white beads, and fancy floss (4), are alone appropriate with this article; with jewelry ornaments of diamonds, pearl, the satin bead, or white cornelian.
No. 4. A regency velvet (5), of an uncommonly delicate fabric. This attractive article is adapted for pelisses, evening robes, and mantles. Every species of white trimming is alone suitable as decorations for garments of this material. White crape long sleeves over short ones of white satin (6), with silver embroidered cestus, and white satin slippers, are delicate softeners to robed of this brilliant artcile. it is sold (with the satin before mentioned) at messrs. Harris, Moody, and col's, Pall Mall.
1) This is why it is VERY IMPORTANT to read the descriptions that go with the swatches instead of just assuming "oh look a pretty gown chintz". Not all of the items here are for wearing. These are for BED CURTAINS. No one wants to wear bed curtains, unless you are Scarlet.
2) Very similar to the Chintzes of old, or a stiff polished cotton.
3) This is a good example to show that shot is like a changeable. If you look closely at the top you can see orange threads poking out. But could they also mean the embroidery through it? You decide.
4) I have never heard of the term fancy floss. Could it be similar to fly fringe?
5) This is the second time I have seen "regency" ___ used to describe fabric. Perhaps it is made in honor of the prince Regent, and bears his name in hopes he will patronize the establishment who created it.
6) Think about this description. Does it not bring to mind something very 1830s? Looser long sleeves of a sheer material over an opaque short sleeve. How charming to keep ones arms A BIT more warm in February.
That is everything fashion wise from February!! What can we take away from this month's delicious array of garments? Amber seems to be the hot color for the month, as well as anything and everything Middle Eastern. I must do some hunting around to see what, politically, is happening in England to create such a desire for such fashions.
Be sure to head over to France to see what is happening in their fashionable world, as well as Germany. Perhaps our partner in England can shine some light on the tastes of the month that I do not have!
Tune in next month to see what the first hints of spring will bring! I don't know about the rest of you, but I am ready for it - Tornado season or no!