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Archive for March 11th, 2011

At the Chic Chicago exhibit the third most popular dress after the Infanta (see post  1.29.11) was the evening gown by Charles Fredrick Worth, 1884, made in France.  Worth was an Englishman who set up shop in Paris in 1846, at the age of 21.  He dressed the aristocracy including the French empress Eugenie and the actor Sarah Bernhardt.  He is credited with starting haute couture, fashion shows with runways and the dictatorship of designers. The evening gown we had in the show was made of silk and velvet and was considered, in its day, to be quite daring because of its restraint and omission of decorations. To me it has a military look, despite the fact that the corset cinches the waist.  Another comparison that comes to mind is that the woman is behind bars.  The slavish status of women at that time was clearly reflected in the fashion.  You can argue that this was a step towards greater freedom of movement from the hoop skirts of the 1860’s but, clearly, we had a long way to go.

Ann Hollander, in her book “Seeing Through Clothes,” says that at any time in history the clothes that people wear are thought to be natural to the body.  If that’s true, then the Victorians had a pretty perverse notion of nature.

The women who chose to be drawn in this gown were either getting in touch with their inner submissive scullery maid or the madam of a house, or they had a riotous sense of humor about the dress and what it stood for.  As you can see from my adaptation of Mr. Worth’s creation, I fell in with the riotous crowd. ———————————————-

 

 

 

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All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

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