Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Early 19th Century Fashions from the Corriere delle dame, Milan

I recently came across several pages from Italian magazine entitled the Corriere delle dame. Established in1804, the weekly magazine was published out of Milan. The founder and editor was Carolina Arienti Lattanzi, and included articles on literature, theatre and fashion throughout Europe, particularly France, Italy, and less frequently, England. What caught my eye was the charming fashion plate from 1812 illustrating the French Empire style – ‘Moda di Franci’. [1]

Note the simplicity of the white dress, with extensive self-fabric detail in the form of pleating and various gathers at the bodice back, which is trimmed in red. Note the just above the elbow off white gloves. A frilly lace bonnet, standing lace collar, small red dots along the hem, and red and white stripped slippers complete the look.
The year before this ensemble was published, readership was 700; by 1875, it had ceased publication. Historians have noted that this pioneering publication played a role in increased female voice and emancipation for elite Italian women in the 19th century.[2]


1.      A number of images are available through the digital collections of the New York Public Library:

2.         For additional information, see Il Corriere delle Dame, tra moda, politica e femminismo http://www.luukmagazine.com/il-corriere-delle-dame-tra-moda-politica-e-femminismo/


Monday, May 22, 2017

Captain Archibald and Lady Sarah Macpheadris invite you to join them at their grand home...

Captain Archibald and Lady Sarah Wentworth Macpheadris invite you to join them for an afternoon entertainment celebrating the ongoing 300th anniversary of the construction of their grand house, on June 10, 2017 from 12:00 to 3:00, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

To commemorate this event, we have set the principal rooms at a gastronomic moment in history—evening dining from 1720s-1910s —business repasts of the early and late 18th century—even a nineteenth century children’s hour!
To enhance your experience, garments laden with stories—such as ladies shoes and dresses, and even Jonathan Warner’s plum-red coat and vest—will be laid out in the rooms in anticipation of its wearer’s return.
At 2 PM, members of the Royal Scottish Country Dancers will perform simple dances for your edification and ask you to join them.
There will be light refreshments and croquet. Rumor has it that several guests have created new fashions for this event.

Please join us for this special year with the house appointed to entertain you as it has for countless past guests. This has become our annual fete.
For further information about the Warner House please visit their website www.warnerhouse.org


Monday, May 8, 2017

Fashioning the New England Family, Massachusetts Historical Society

MassFashion: Fashioning the New England Family
Massachusetts Historical Society
October 2018 – March 2019
I am delighted to announce that I am serving as the Guest Curator for ‘Fashioning the New England Family’ which will be on view at the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. from October 2018-March 2019. (https://www.masshist.org) Working with the MHS Curator, Anne Bentley, we are planning a exhibition which will place numerous garments and accessories on public view for the first time in MHS history. In addition to the exhibition there will be an accompanying catalog.

As America’s first historical society, the Massachusetts Historical Society has collected family archives since 1791. Textiles form an important part of these family stories but, due to their different storage requirements, have largely been divorced from their familial ties. Fashioning the New England Family will reknit the family stories with their textiles.  Exploring textiles and clothing, we read them as primary source material enabling us to trace patterns of consumption and trade, examine clothing as political and social statement, and to compare and contrast men’s political-economic sphere to women’s. A particular collecting strength is found in the items preserved from the 17th and 18th centuries, largely represented in the MHS collection by Boston’s elite families. Very few of these items have been publicly exhibited. While the importance of luxury goods continues in the 19th century, we see an increase in the availability of specialized garments and accessories through all strata of society and from a wider range of sources. During this period (and continuing beyond the Colonial Revival) the importance of “ancient” textiles frequently acquire icon status and serves to connect the next generation about the importance of family history. 
Four primary themes comprise Fashioning the New England Family:

I.               Petticoats and Politics  (Presidents Gallery)
II.             The Embellished Gentleman (Hamilton Room)
III.           Clothing “The Quality” 18th c. and 19th c. (Oliver Room)
IV.           Homespun & Handsewn (Alcove off of Oliver Room)
I am also pleased to author the catalog which will accompany the exhibition.

Stay tuned for more details and exhibition teasers.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Georgian Shoes in Transition

After a five year search, I recently became the proud owner of a pair of charming and delicate Boston-made, Neoclassical slip-on shoes. The silk satin shoes feature embroidery at toe and are a good example of a ‘transitional’ shoe – moving from the earlier 18th century Rococo style with its focus on bold floral patterns, densely embellished silk brocades, often adorned with metallic threads or metallic lace and spangles, and a weighty French (or Louis) heel. Whereas shoes from the earlier Georgian time period featured long straps and were attached via buckles – which ranged from simple paste stones to actual gems—these shoes would have slipped on. A small, thin tie or string, runs through a narrow channel at the top of the shoe.
Note the buckle shoes with their straps, compared to the transitional Boston-made shoes
By the mid-1780s, politics in a post-Revolutionary age made an appearence in fashion circles, as light cotton and muslin dresses with high waists and columnar shapes held sway in the assemblies and drawings rooms, echoing the look of ancient Greece and Rome. The same visual language was present in shoes made between 1785-1790s– lighter color palette, limited ornament, smaller heels and an architectonic quality. By the close of the 18th century, flats will take precedence in Regency/Empire/Neoclassical fashion, a trend which will continue into the mid-19th century.


The cream silk satin shoes shown were made in Boston by P. Gull and feature chain stitch embroidery at the toes, with what was known as an Italian heel. 
They were photographed on site at the John Paul Jones House, Portsmouth Historical Society, February 2017.
A similar transitional shoe, courtesy www.eng-shoe.icons.com



Saturday, April 15, 2017

A Pretty Paisley Print Ditty Bag

I recently purchased this charming late 19th century (or very early 20th century) work bag (also called a ditty bag). The intricate paisley-style, polished sateen cotton print was visually pleasing with its pinks, reds and greens. Each side features a pink silk taffeta bow and the same ribbon if used for hanging or carrying. Machine sewn, it is so lightweight that one can scarcely imagine carrying much in it at all. Perhaps it was used for light embroidery or for minor repairs. In addition to the large central compartment for holding mending, there are two small outer pockets (presumably for needles, pins, thread and a small pair of scissors) and one, slightly gathered, compartment, also on the exterior.


The textile itself is strikingly similar to a line of early c.1904 Liberty of London printed cottons and lawns, some of which are still produced today. See:  http://www.libertylondon.com/uk/department/fabric/cotton-tana-lawn/

Hand sewing and mending were a necessity for many Victorian women, requiring a receptacle to keep sewing tools and notions at hand.  Some were made at home, some were mundane serving a functional purpose but others were made from costly fabrics and trimming or recycled from older textiles.
What is also of interest is that bags of similar dimensions and shape, though of sturdier materials, are also associated with men, particularly those in the maritime trade. This bag measures (from the top to the bottom) 17-1/2" long x 11-1/2" wide.