Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Striking Pink Silk Stomacher for Miss Elizabeth Price, c. 1765-1775

This eye-catching, hot pink, white and black/brown silk stomacher is part of the Price Family textile collection at The Bostonian Society/Old State House (www.bostonhistory.org). It was most likely worn by Miss Elizabeth Price (oldest daughter of Elizabeth Bull Price (1718-1780). The style indicates a date range of c. 1765-1775 and the fetching piece was probably purchased and worn in Britain. Stomachers at this time were beginning to lose their popularity (and utility). Generally, they were worn until about 1775, when edge to edge gown closure became the norm. This stomacher underscores that the aesthetic was shifting away from the elaborate heavily embroidered botanical patterns, adorned with silk and metallic threads, of the Rococo period. Thin, shiny, lighter silks of the early Neoclassical period began to predominate. Even the trim is delicate. Miss Bull’s stomacher was probably associated with matching trim from the dress fabric, or a similar, compatible textile.  
Detail reveals patterns of wear and age; frayed and shredded silk
According to costume historian, Professor Mary Doering, of George Mason University/Smithsonian Associates: During the 1760s, many fashionable dresses were made in a monochromatic style, where the emphasis was on surface ornamentation rather than complementary textile or embroidery patterns.  The novelty striped silks, such as this one, became popular in the 1770s. A look at the reverse reveals the frequent hasty stitching of the trim.

No doubt Miss Price commanded considerable attention in an ensemble of a similar style and pattern to the stomacher!

Thank you to Patricia Gilrein, Collections Manager, The Bostonian Society for her assistance with the stomacher.

For additional information, see:

From Baby Caps to Mourning Rings

Visiting with Elizabeth Bull’s Wedding Dress, 1731-1735+

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Gossip Lady Reports on a 1730s Wedding Dress and an Exhibit on Shoes

Photo courtesy J. Dennis Robinson

Gossip: Shoes Through The Ages

By Jeanné McCartin
Portsmouth Herald, July 03, 2014 - 2:00 AM
Walking through History
Kimberley Alexander, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of New Hampshire and a member of the Warner House curatorial committee (take a deep breath after that), is a very busy woman and could do with a pause herself. That's unlikely for some time though.
Alexander just completed six months of researching Bostonian Elizabeth Bull. The project culminated in a discussion by Alexander at the Old State House in Boston, regarding the pre-Revolutionary fashionista's incredible wedding dress (search for the write-up on the Boston Globe's Web site at www.bostonglobe.com).

Alexander and Patricia Gilrein, the Bostonian Society's collections manager, are collaborating on a publication based on the "amazing trove of information" gathered during the process. "We're hoping to complete it in the next nine months," Alexander says.(www.bostonhistory.org)
That is in addition to a "dynamic" new project, the Newmarket resident adds.
Alexander also is co-curating an exhibit of historical footwear with Sandra Rux, president of the Warner Houses board and curator at the Portsmouth Historical Society. The exhibit is scheduled for the Portsmouth Athenaeum in 2015. (www.PortsmouthAthenaeum.org)
"We're looking at how shoes were made, but also shoes as an important commodity," Alexander says. Shoes speak to status, job, change in style, even the wearer's condition. "They tell you stories you don't find written text. ...; So many are women's shoes and they are left out of the official historic record."
The show will feature footwear from throughout New England, many pieces exhibited for the first time publicly.

Image, Sally Brewster Gerrish silk brocade shoe, c. 1770s John Paul Jones House, Portsmouth Historical Society, Courtesy, J. Dennis Robinson

Friday, July 18, 2014

Edward Steichen Captures the 1920s: Shoes for Vogue Magazine

Edward Steichen captured the beauty and refinement of 1920s fashion and style in numerous photo shoots for Vogue Magazine. In the photo above of the "barrette" shoe, with its slightly pointed toe and revived Louis heel, Steichen skillfully conveys a number of messages to the viewer. In this one detail shot, he reveals a bit of the carefree yet luxurious environment of the roaring twenties, while also highlighting several key merchandizing elements employed by the savvy fashion photographer and art director to attract the style conscious consumer.

In particular, note the proportions of the "foot model." Her neatly turned ankle is especially diminutive in dimension, the calf elongated and slender (but not bony) and the foot itself on the small size, but more importantly, it was narrow--long considered in some elite circles to be praiseworthy. Not every model could be a foot, hand or hat model. The models legs give the impression of being crossed at the ankle, which further reinforced the appropriateness of the image. The lacy hem sweeps (enticingly) just above the knee. The setting against what would have been recognized as a silk textile further heightened the aspect of luxury. The image conveyed the latest style, and suggested that wearing the shoes would lead to a positive experience with an underlying  message of gentility and sophistication. This would all be absorbed and understood quickly by the viewer - just as the subliminal (and not so subliminal) advertising used today. Steichen was a master in this genre.

Photographs courtesy Vogue Magazine/Conde Nast

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tea, Cake and Croquet: A Summer Afternoon in Costume, Warner House

Really, what could be a more delightful way to pass a sunny, early summer afternoon than drinking tea, nibbling on cakes and playing some rather aggressive croquet in the picturesque garden at The Warner House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (www.warnerhouse.org)? Warner House board chair, Sandra Rux; house manager, Jeffrey Hopper and your humble author, saw an interest in, and need for, historic spaces in the region to offer opportunities to costumers and reenactors from a number of historic eras to gather and enjoy events. Quite the convivial gathering, we hope for more in the near future.

Sarah, Jane & Hannah
S. Wordsworth Hemeon, photographer
Mistress and Master Spencer
SilkDamask photo
Rebecca models her dress - first opportunity to don her ensemble
SilkDamask photo
Julia, Sandra & Tara looking lovely
SilkDamask, photo
Sue brightens the room with her smile & 1930s sari
SilkDamask photo
Enjoying a chat in front of our absent host, Jonathan Warner
Amy Donle, photographer
S. Wordsworth Hemeon, photographer
For Portsmouth Herald article about the event by Jeanne McCartin,
 click here

For images by S. Wordsworth Hemeon, photographer, see The Warner House on Facebook

And for even more images, see http://www.thecountryladyantiques.com