Thursday, December 20, 2012

Godey's London Fashions for May, 1834: Ball Dress

It proved impossible to scan the 1834 Godey's Lady's Book I bought on eBay - the text is small and the paper isn't in good condition, so it comes out all blurry.  So I typed up the fashion text, and as there aren't any fashion plates, I thought I'd over-analyze each little bit of description so you can picture it in your head.  There is a remote chance I might try drawing the end result, but ... we'll see about that later.  (And I've found more on Google Books, so if you like this I could keep going!)  It's like a reverse version of the portrait analyses.

BALL DRESS. - The dress is of a new material, called Gaze de Constantinople, embroidered in gold.  It is made à l'Antique. The corsage perfectly tight to the bust, is a point, and cut on the bias in front; it is ornamented across the bosom with full draperies à la Sevigne, the sleeves are a double sabot, with blonde ruffles à la Louis XV.   The open skirt does not quite meet at the waist, as it is intended that the point of the corsage should be distinctly seen.  The dress is ornamented with small rosettes of gauze ribbons, from which depend three or four long coques of the same; in the centre of each rosette is a gold ornament or jewel, and the coques are formed of a much wider ribbon than the rosettes.  This dress is worn over a satin petticoat, ornamented with a deep volant or flounce of blonde, headed with a puffing of ribbon, the color of the dress; each puff is separate, and not carried on from one to the other.  On the sleeves are deep and very full jockies of blonde, and the dress is finished at the neck with a deep ruff à la Catherine de Medicis, which diminishes gradually toward the front.  The back hair is in two high coques or bows, encircled at the base with a rich bracelet, which also retains a long ostrich feather; three light puffings of gauze finish this becoming and elegant head dress.  The front hair is very much parted on the forehead, the curls falling low at the sides.  Gold necklace and earrings, white kid gloves, fan à la Valois, white satin shoes and silk stockings.



The dress is of a new material, called Gaze de Constantinople, embroidered in gold.  It is made à l'Antique. 
This fabric is very difficult to track down, and I can't find much of anything about it.  With regard to fabric, "à l'Antique" seems to mean general richness and heaviness.  Another issue of Godey's describes Toilettes à l'Antique as being made of "velvet satin, broché, damassé, and other rich materials of the 'olden time'".
The corsage perfectly tight to the bust, is a point, and cut on the bias in front; it is ornamented across the bosom with full draperies à la Sevigne, 
This might refer to Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696); two portraits of her show drapery on her chest.  In one, she is dressed in typical 17th century antique/exotic dress, with a floating scarf attached to her neckline, and in the other she has a continuous band of draped fabric bordering the neckline of a more conventional gown.  It seems likely that this is what is being described.  The bodice being "a point" should be taken as "a pointed one".  Having the center front cut on the bias is fairly common for the 1830s and 1840s.

Winter fashions, 1836
Evening dress, 1835











the sleeves are a double sabot, with blonde ruffles à la Louis XV.  
For full research on "sabots", see the post on evening and opera dress.  In short, a sabot is a puff (as is a bouffante).  The mid-eighteenth century was a popular period at the time for fashion inspiration, so it's not surprising that sleeve ruffles would be used and named for Louis XV.

Evening and walking dresses, autumn 1836



Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834









The open skirt does not quite meet at the waist, as it is intended that the point of the corsage should be distinctly seen.  
Another touch of historicism.  (Basically the whole thing is historicism.)   The open skirt and a pointed bodice were intended to harken back to the 18th century. It seems to appear more frequently in 1834 than the rest of the decade.

Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834

Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834
 
Evening dress, spring 1836

Bridal fashions, winter 1838


















The dress is ornamented with small rosettes of gauze ribbons, from which depend three or four long coques of the same; in the centre of each rosette is a gold ornament or jewel, and the coques are formed of a much wider ribbon than the rosettes. 
 The Dictionnaire de l'Academie Française (which seems like a really good one for fashion terms, take note) defines "coque" in the dressmaking sense as "large knots/bows forming a shell, used for trimming on gowns".  The term is also used to describe the popular standing-loop hairstyles, so I assume they are similar.
This dress is worn over a satin petticoat, ornamented with a deep volant or flounce of blonde, headed with a puffing of ribbon, the color of the dress; each puff is separate, and not carried on from one to the other.  
If you've been following my Galerie des Modes posts, then you're well aware of the 18th century connotations of "volant"!  Ribbon trimmings on flounces also abound on those plates.  While these lace flounces (and visible petticoat flounces) are less common, flounced hems in general turn up frequently.


Fashions and bonnets, autumn 1837


Walking and ball dresses, winter 1831















Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834

On the sleeves are deep and very full jockies of blonde, 
To confirm the period meaning of "jockey"/"jockey sleeve", I looked through more period publications until I found a good description in the Court Magazine: "A large square collar generally replaces the pelerine, which, falling over the sleeves, forms a jockey, and descends in the front in fichu style."  While a jockey sleeve is sometimes a long, fitted sleeve with a narrow cuff, in this context it is clearly a flounce over the top of the sleeve, a very common design element in the early 1830s and one imitated in the 1890s.

Morning and evening dresses, winter 1831

Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834
Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834

and the dress is finished at the neck with a deep ruff à la Catherine de Medicis, which diminishes gradually toward the front.  
More historicism, based off yet another era!  Or possibly based off a previous era's historicism - it could be squared.

Evening dress with a ruff, La Belle Assemblée, 1834
 The back hair is in two high coques or bows, encircled at the base with a rich bracelet, which also retains a long ostrich feather; three light puffings of gauze finish this becoming and elegant head dress.  The front hair is very much parted on the forehead, the curls falling low at the sides.  
A fairly ordinary early 1830s hairstyle: bracelet on the head, high 'do in the back, and curls in the front.  This would of course change within a few years.
 
Paris fashions, 1831

Ball dress, spring 1833












Gold necklace and earrings, white kid gloves, fan à la Valois, white satin shoes and silk stockings.
The jewelry was probably intended to be in the antique style itself, to fit in with the general sense of history.  The fan is difficult to figure out: more historicism, obviously, but what exactly is it referring to?  The two possibilities that seem the most likely to me are that it is a folding fan painted with medieval-ish figures, or that it is a handscreen fan.

Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, 1834
Paris fashions, 1831










Modes de Paris, 1834


Modes de Paris, Petit Courrier des Dames, ca. 1833











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