I. Was at. Malmaison.
Thats right, any of my followers that are avid Napoleonic re-enactors know that the Jubilee at Malmaison which happens so far only every other year will know that is some serious stuff there. I spent MONTHS sewing like mad to do honor to America and my own impression, and I think I did right well. To learn more about it and see more of what we all did, check out my business blog as Undressing the Historical Lady.
Anyway, now to the fun stuff!! If you haven't already, hop over to the other lovely ladies in Germany, France, and the other end of London!
Plate 4 - Opera Dress
A round robe of imperial violet net crepe, or leno, with a long sleeve of the same, worn over a white satin under-dress. A cottage vest, or bodice, of chinese crape, tabinet, or satin, laced and tagged with correspondent cord and tassels. Under-dress shading closely the bosom and shoulders. A large unella veil, confined in front with a gold tiara, and a simple rose on one side, flowing in negligent folds over the rear of the figure. Neck chain and bracelets of finely carved amber, or oriental elastic gold. French repeating watch, with elastic gold chain and seals. Bouquet on the left side of the bosom. White satin slippers and gloves of white kid.
A jacket and trowsers, a la militaire, of windsor grey cloth. White marsielles dimity waistcoat, ornamented to correspond: collar and frill in the antique style: hair a waved crop. The pomposo, or moorish half-boot, of yellow of black morocco. This latter dress was furnished by mr. s clark, tailor and ladies' habit maker, no. 37, Golden-Square
First of all, I have always loved this little boys outfit. Always. It ALMOST makes me want one of my own.
In reading the rest of this month's fashion descriptions it seems that these evening bodices, or cottage vests, are very popular. They are mentioned frequently, for evening gatherings, but not for full dress, say at the Fete mentioned below. I am wondering at this descrption of "elastic" gold they mean something similar to spring steel bones in construction, somehow the chain is made in such a way as to give it stretch, which is both odd and cool.
Due to Game of Thrones I can find almost NO information on what "Unella" could mean. Go figure.
In regards to the youth's dress I should just like to point out that the maker of this garment is a tailor and ladie's habit maker. Since habits were very masculine often times they would be made by male tailors, not mantua makers.
Plate 5 - Promenade Costume.
A white jaconot muslin high dress, a walking length, ornamented round the bottom: cuffs and collar with a tuscan border, in tambour. A sea-green sarsnet spencer, ornamented with silver maltese buttons, and barrel frogs to correspond, worn open occasionally in front, and confined at the throat with cord and tassels. French watch and chain worn outside, suspended in front from the bottom of the waist, hair in disheveled curls, confined with a cold or shell comb at the back of the head. A large transparent white veil thrown over the whole. Chinese parasol; gold mounted ridicule; and half boots similar in shade to the spencer. Gloves of pale primrose or buff kid.
This has also been a great favorite of mine, but most know that I am a big fan of green anyhow. I am not sure what about the border makes it "Tuscan in nature." Perhaps its the design?
Another note I would like to make is yet another spencer made out of Sarsnet. Should you be desirious of a fashionable Sarsnet for a fashionable lady of 1811, Burnley and Trowbridge carry a couple beautiful articles of said material.
I am wondering what the sudden draw for french watches is inspired by. Both ensembles this month describe French watches. Does anyone who is interested in such things know why? I would be happy to hear about it in the comments!
Twenty first letter from a young lady in london to her sister in the country:
Allow me, my dear sister, to bespeak your forgiveness for not replying sooner to your last "feast of reason." the fact is, that i have been so constantly engaged in the pleasures of this charming spot, which is flowing with milk and honey, that i have not been able, as yet, to digest the moral fare your last epistle offered.
What am I then to say to you at this time? With a brain agreeable bewildered by the intoxicating splendor and dazzling brightness of the Prince Regent's fete, how shall I rationally collect my thoughts so as to give a detail fit to meet your sober judgment? A detail, indeed, would be an undertaking of herculean labour, so vast and so various were the attractions which this unrivaled entertainment displayed. On this subject I shall give you the result of my observations, and endeavor to offer a few general remarks, which may afford instruction as well as amusement.
The dresses, on this splendid occasion, consisted chiefly of round robes, ornamented up the front, in the convent form of roman tunics; and turkish robes, with under dresses of white satin, trimmed with silver, gold, flowers, or gems. There was an occasion when white satin, with crape or lace, ornamented with silver, pearl, or diamonds was so general. Most of the young fashionables were thus chastely attired. The plumes of feathers were of unprecedented magnificence there were from seven to fourteen in each plume. This may perhaps strike you as to heavy to produce a pleasing or becoming effect and, indeed, individually considered, this was actually the case, though certainly the effect of the coup d'oeil was improved by the vast assemblage. The long waist which was trespassing so much upon elegance and grace, will now be reduced, as the short grecian waist was universally adopted on this occasion; a standard which I have ever considered can never be diminished or exceeded with advantage. The hair was still twisted in the grecian style, but with curls brought in front, and full towards one side, divided in the center of the forehead. The Madonna head-dress was quite exploded. Amidst the coloured robes which adorned the princely drawing-rooms, those of pink were by far the most prevailing. Green and yellow, so generally seen on ordinary occasions, were scarcely visible amidst this exalted assembly. A few light blue and lilac robed and tunics of hold and silver tissue, were blended, but pink and white variously, most tastefully and splendidly ornamented, were universally attractive. My own dress was a grecian frock of silver net, sloped in a sort of arch at the feet in front, and finished with a delicate fringe of silver snow drops. the under dress was of gossamer satin, edged at the feet with a narrow lace. I wore a brilliant regency start, at the base of the plume of feathers which decorated my hair, and a correspondent cross pendant from the row of brilliants which ornamented my neck. The sleeves of the dresses were worn short, without exception by all young women. The matured fashionable wore the long sleeves, of net, lace, or crape rather large. The spanish, circassian, and short bishops sleeve were acknowledges as the most universal and elegant.
(Now, what exactly makes it a "round robe"? this is something that has been a source of confusion and frustration. Do they mean it is closed at the back? Do they mean gathered with a drawstring at both bosom and waist edge? I can never really figure it out. But it is very obvious that Grecian is still prevailing, with lots of draping involved. The description of the feathers was also mind blowing, FOURTEEN PLUMES?! ON YOUR DOME?! Jesus. That is insanity, and awesome. By madonna head dress I can only assume a virginal veil sort of thing, but I might be mistaken here. Any clarification or ideas in the comments is of course most welcome! Something that really excited me was to see that colors were popular, it was not just white, white, white, and more white. Yes, it was popular, but so was PINK! There were other options, as well as long sleeves for the more "matured" lady of fashion. Some things in history do not change, and a woman past the meridian of life knew when she could no longer dress like the youthful females of the day and made no attempts to do so. Does anyone know what "Brilliant regency start" means? Was it a typo and meant to say "star?" obviously it is some sort of head ornament.)
Thus dear constance, have I given you a concise account of those particulars which will direct your general choice, as the fashion and style displayed on this grand occasion may certainly be looked up to as the standard of taste for the season. I must not omit to inform you, that the coloured bodice is an article much in request at dinner and evening parties. It is both a convenient and striking appendage to the round robe, to which it make be at all times attached, as taste and fancy direct. I have one of white satin and another of pink and silver tissue, laced up the front in the cottage style. Spencers are more worn than I ever recollect to have witnessed. At the theatres and vauxhall, they are generally of white satin or sarsnet, trimmed with lace or venetian binding, and some few adopt the light swansdown even at this season. Short pelisses and mantles are equally common, and grecian scarfs are amidst the general exhibition. Provincial poke bonnets of white or coloured satin, of figured sarsnets with fluted edges and a single ostrich feather across the front, blend with the slouch chip, helmet bonnet, and cottage poke. the gipsey hat, so becoming and seasonable at this period, is confined to a few fashionables, who judiciously prefer what is becoming and select, to what is more general and decided.
(Here again we see a mention of the evening bodice, in all sorts of materials and colors! Pink tissue, white satin, who knows what you could make yours out of! I have a wealth of pretty mint green silk organza that might make a rahter fetching one ;). It is also wonderful to see the mention of Spencers being worn for evening things such as the theater and opera, made in rich materials and trimmed out accordingly. The array of bonnets and hats is also quite fun to see. There is no want of variety in this period in terms of shapes and materials!)
Adieu dead sister! pardon this abrupt conclusion. The dial points half past five. I hasted to my toilet. A dinner party of twenty fashionables await us at seven, amidst which are two peers, free members of the whip club, two hangers-on, in the shape of honorary members, a bishop, a boxer , and a pedestrian racer. What an ordeal for us females to pass! Pity me, and pray for me, dear good sister! For I am ever your faithful and affectionate,
(though it is not fashion related I enjoy the list of guests coming to this dinner! A boxer! A pedestrian Racer! Members of the whip-club! It must have been a rather amusing and roucus affair. Also an hour and a half for evening toilette seems about right, doesn't it?. If you have had a chance to read about the fete from our other London magazine, you will see the comparisons and contrasts! There is definitely more mention in La Belle about the rooms and table.)
Allegorical Wood Cuts with Patterns of British Manufacture:
No 1. and 2. an elegant and fashionable print for furniture, on a bright sardinian blue ground, which throws off the lively colours blended in the chintz pattern to the most striking advantage and bespeaks at once the tasteful invention for which the house of mr. allen, pall mall, is so celebrated.
No. 3. An unique and delicate article for evening robes, to be purchased at millards warehouse in cheapsides; the proprietor of which evidently possesses a happy and cultivated taste, united with indefatigable industry and exertion, which enables him thus constantly to produce such new articles as insured him the attention and approbation of the numerous families of distinction, who daily honour the ware rooms of this famed establishment. (It would have been nice had they told us what the article was. Silk? Cotton? Don't leave us hanging!)
No. 4. A silver regency tissue, worn with so much effect at the grade fete at carlton house. For less splendid public parties this delicate article is particularly appropriate and becoming, in the forms of the peasants or villagers vest, laced up the front with silver cord, and finished with correspondent tags. (tags? do they mean tabs? do they mean some sort of trim? how odd! but again, its all about the little vests.)
Be sure to check back here frequently, i plan on betting the next two months done THIS WEEK!! It'll be the most action this place has seen in ages.