Death at the Needle: The Tragedy of Victorian Seamstress Mary Walkley – Mimi Matthews

The Seamstress by Josef Gisela, 1897

“Sir,—I am a dressmaker, living in a large West-end house of business. I work in a crowded room with twenty-eight others. This morning one of my companions was found dead in her bed, and we all of …

Source: Death at the Needle: The Tragedy of Victorian Seamstress Mary Walkley – Mimi Matthews

Overzealous Research Lands Cross-Dressing Victorian Writer in the Dock – Mimi Matthews

Just before midnight on June 25, 1891, a police detective encountered two women strolling arm-in-arm down Regent Street.  One of the women struck him as being rather odd in appearance.  He approach…

Source: Overzealous Research Lands Cross-Dressing Victorian Writer in the Dock – Mimi Matthews

Doll Conservation: Introduction to an English Rose – The Bowes Museum’s Blog

Over my next few posts, I’ll be blogging about the conservation of an 18th century fashion doll from our collection [TOY.301]. I am preparing it for our upcoming exhibition English Rose – Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent, opening in May 2016…

Source: Doll Conservation: Introduction to an English Rose – The Bowes Museum’s Blog

Beau Brummell: The Dandy as Social Revolutionary | A R T L▼R K

On the 7th of June 1778, the most famous dandy in Regency England Beau Brummell was born in Downing Street, London. Despite his middle-class background, he studied at Eton and Oxford, where he quick…

Source: Beau Brummell: The Dandy as Social Revolutionary | A R T L▼R K

A Coat of Many Colours: Conserving an 18th Century Technicolour Dream Coat – The Bowes Museum’s Blog

Treatment is now complete on this stunning late 18th century coat of brown cut and voided silk velvet, adorned with polychrome floral embroidery and appliquéd net (CST.1.292.A).  The coat is part o…

Source: A Coat of Many Colours: Conserving an 18th Century Technicolour Dream Coat – The Bowes Museum’s Blog

How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion

The long, trailing skirts of the Victorian period eventually fell out of favor when they were thought to harbor tuberculosis microbes. (via Wikicommons)

The deadly disease—and later efforts to control it—influenced trends for decades…

Source: How Tuberculosis Shaped Victorian Fashion

Uncovered: The Spy Who Lost Her Clothes « LAST POST

Betrayed Queen No 1: Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI of Scotland and I of England, by Paul van Somer, 1617. Image: Wikipedia.

A dress recovered from a 400 year old shipwreck reveals secrets from Charles I’s court on the eve of the Civil War. (Source: The Guardian) Betrayed Queen No 1: Anne of Denmark, wife of James …

Source: Uncovered: The Spy Who Lost Her Clothes « LAST POST

A Regency Romance

Edmund Leighton: On the Threshold (1900). Manchester Art Gallery. Image source: Wikipedia

What explains the enduring appeal of the Regency Romance?(Question arises from the latest audio book I’ve narrated, already successfully released in USA 10 days ago, by a subsidiary of over-mighty Amazon).

Why has that period in history lent itself more than any other to our fantasies about courtship and social acceptance? The origins of its potency lie older and deeper than the comedies of manners written prolifically by Georgette Heyer, the doyenne of Regency Romance fiction, and the costume rom-coms of the film and movie industries of…

Source: A Regency Romance

The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Source: The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Extreme fashions have always incited a fair amount of criticism and ridicule. During the 1870s and 1880s, this criticism was primarily reserved for the bustle.  Bustles were routinely satirized in magazines like Punch and featured as the subject of countless humorous—and not so humorous—newspaper articles.  Below are just a few of the many interesting bustle stories from the 19th century news, from an exploding bustle during a reading by author Charles Dickens to a bulk of bustles cast into the sea.

CHARLES DICKENS AND THE EXPLODING BUSTLE

On an evening in September of 1888, famed Victorian author Charles Dickens was giving a reading at the First Congregational Church in the city of San Francisco.  Multiple British newspapers report the story of a fashionable…

Source: The Trouble with Bustles: Victorian Fashion in the 19th Century News – Mimi Matthews

Lock and Company – The Collections – City of London

Established in 1676, Lock & Co, hatters has the oldest surviving hat shop in the world. The firm’s rich history in hat innovation and design is reflected in the company’s archives. Lock & Co had previously deposited a portion of the archives in 1967 and 1970, but a major recent acquisition of additional volumes (in 2014 and 2015) now creates a more complete archive. The collection documents orders for many well-known customers and is an important contribution to the business archives held at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). Liza Shapiro, conservator, James Lock & Co Ltd describes the history of the company, its archives, and the challenges of the conservation project with which she has been involved.

History

In 1676 Robert Davis established a hat shop in one of five houses he leased on St James’s Street.  Ten years later, George Lock, a successful importer of coffee, chocolate and tobacco, leased seven premises on the same street. The two families came together in 1747, when James Lock, the grandson of George Lock, became an apprentice at the hat shop and later married Robert Davis’s granddaughter, Mary.  In 1759, James Lock inherited the business, and on the 24 June 1765, he and his family opened their shop on 6 St James’s Street, thus establishing what would become…

Source: Lock and Company – The Collections – City of London.

The 1850s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade | Mimi Matthews

The 1850s ushered in a decade of bright colors, exotic fabrics, and womanly curves.  Gone were the restrictive Gothic gowns of the 1840s.  In their place were distinctively feminine frocks with flowing, pagoda-style sleeves and impossibly full skirts supported by the newly introduced wire cage crinoline.  This was a decade during which fashion was influenced by the Crimean War, the emergence of the modern sewing machine, and the increasing…

Source: The 1850s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade | Mimi Matthews

A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life: Prinny’s Taylor – The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Charles Bazalgette to the salon today. Charles is the author of the marvellous, Prinny’s Taylor, and is on intimate terms with George IV’s apparel… I cannot recommend the book highly enough, it is a definite must-read for anyone with an interest in the period, the man or the wonderful fashion he wore!

—oOo—

LouispaintingTwenty  years ago when I started researching for this book I never imagined that I would find out so much about an almost unknown ancestor that I would end up with a 380-page biography.  But over those years some extraordinary finds elevated the work from perhaps a monograph, of interest mainly to my family, to a biography which tells us a great deal more about George, Prince of Wales than has ever been published before.  Through his extensive dealings with his tailor of 32 years, Louis Bazalgette, we see in great detail what clothes he ordered,  when and where he more many of them, and how much they cost the nation.  Unbelievable quantities of clothes of great richness were ordered.  The huge debts that Prinny ran up with his tailor led to financial crises, the most important of which was in 1795, when the Prince was forced…

Source: A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life: Prinny’s Taylor – The Life and Times of Louis Bazalgette (1750-1830)

The 1820s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

There were many important, transitional years for women’s fashion during the 19thcentury.  For example, in a single decade sleeves might transform from slender and straight to enormous gigot or leg o’mutton style sleeves.  While skirts which began a decade flowing loose around the legs might end the decade standing several feet wide atop a crinoline.  In my previous post on the evolution of 19th century gowns (available HERE), I gave a brief, decade-by-decade visual overview of the ever-changing silhouettes of women’s silk dresses in the 1800s.  For the transitional years, however, a single image can never sum up an entire decade.  With that in mind, I bring you the first in a series of visual fashion guides to those decades of the 19th century during which women’s fashion underwent the most extreme change.

I begin with the 1820s, a decade which stood between the Regency era (1811-1820) and the Victorian era (1837-1901).  This decade is notable in fashion as providing a bridge between the classic, high-waisted Empire styles of the early 19th century and the large…

Source: The 1820s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

Pilfering the Male Wardrobe: The Gibson Girl’s Retort to Fashion Satire | MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Originally posted on MCNY Blog: New York Stories.

Capricious, evanescent, outrageous: there has always been something to parody about fashion. It has had its moments of sanity, where form has actually nodded to function, but centuries-worth of acrid illustration captures its erratic permutations. Political satirists throughout the 18th and 19th centuries frequently targeted fashion’s absurdities – ballooning sleeves, wasp-like waists, meandering hemlines – as tantalizing subject matter for ridicule.

Currier & Ives, Thomas Worth (1834-1917), “The Grecian Bend” Fifth Avenue Style, 1868, Hand-colored lithograph. Gift of Mrs. Harry T. Peters, 56.300.1282

A deliciously obvious phenomenon was fashion’s “Grecian Bend” of 1868, itself a caricature with its forward-hunching posture (paraphrasing that of a tyrannosaurus) caused while attempting to counter-balance the backward thrust of an outrageously pronounced bustle and weighty mounded coiffure – made all-the-more comical while tottering along on the day’s tiny high-heeled shoes and balancing a miniature sunshade from tightly gloved hands. The conspicuous presence of the “Grecian Bend” along the main corridors of New York City’s fashionable shopping district (subsequently known as “The Ladies’ Mile,” and featured in the City Museum’s exhibition Gilded New York) prompted Thomas Worth’s sketch for lithographers Currier & Ives, typically known for their picturesque landscapes and sentimental visions of Americana. Their widely distributed “The Grecian Bend, Fifth Avenue Style” constituted a satirical sidebar for the firm, becoming the best known of their fashion commentaries.

The absurdity of the print’s imagery resonated throughout the day’s popular culture, inspiring the…

via Pilfering the Male Wardrobe: The Gibson Girl’s Retort to Fashion Satire | MCNY Blog: New York Stories.

Hands off that Beard (Snippets 16)

Windows into History

nero Bust of Nero at the Capitoline Museum, Rome (source ancient.eu)

It was a tough life for a Roman philosopher in the 1st Century.  Gaius Musonius Rufus was a teacher of philosophy in Rome, but his career was cut short when he was exiled by Nero.  He returned to Rome after Nero’s death, only to be exiled again by Vespasian a few years later.  The danger of philosophy was that not everyone would necessarily agree with your world view, particularly if you taught a pacifist ethos.  Annoying the Emperor in 1st Century Rome was a bad idea.

Musonius Rufus tackled a wide range of topics, and perhaps deserves to be remembered for his positive view of women.  One of his discourses is titled That Women Too Should Study Philosophy.  However, surely his most deeply meaningful, thought-provoking opinions that speak volumes to us today are contained within his discourse… On Cutting…

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