Showing posts from June, 2014

Les Costumes François, Plate 8

ARTISANS. THE MASON AND THE LAUNDRESS. By Artisans one means a Class of Men who devote their lives to mechanical Arts; one of the most essential to society is the Mason. He builds our homes and works to shelter us from the bad weather of the seasons; those who prepare our Foodstuffs for us are at least as useful, but there are others who only work to content our luxury, and those, whether the richest, are not the most necessary to an estate. The rank of Artisans in the Civil Order is after the Merchant, their dress hardly distinguishes them from the Bourgeois , they nevertheless prefer strong colors for their suits, such as a Chestnut-colored coat and a red vest. We have represented here the Mason in a worker's dress, he is in a cap, vest, and apron, working to stir his mortar. Among the female Artisans, we have chosen by preference the Laundress. She is represented dressed following the people of her estate, carrying a basket loaded with linens and the beater in her hand.

Louise Chéruit (ca. 1870?-1935)

Louise Chéruit ( not   Madeleine ) is another of those couturiers that has been forgotten by historical chance, whose style and contributions are almost unknown today, despite the fact that she may be the only designer mentioned in Vile Bodies . Mme Chéruit , by  Paul-César Helleu, ca. 1901 Unlike Pingat, we do know where Chéruit learned her trade - though in most sources there is a little confusion over whether it was Raudnitz et Cie , or Ernest Raudnitz. Raudnitz et Cie  was opened in the 1870s by Ernest and his sisters, and in 1883 Ernest left to form his own house at 23 Louis-le-Grand, just down the street from Pingat. As Chéruit and her sister, Marie Huet, eventually took over Raudnitz et Cie , it's most likely that that was where they were both trained. In the January 1899 edition of Le Jacquard , a trade journal for the wool industry, Huet & Chéruit are noted as having set up to sell gowns and confections in December 1898 at 13 rue Grange-Batelière , in the pre

Les Costumes François, Plate 7

THE DOCTOR. "Honor the Doctor for necessity," says scripture, good reason, was the response, if the motives are only fear of being killed. This response is unjust, why not say that the desire of being healed is the motive which must engage us, and because of which one must wait for help, when one is infirm, if it is for a wise man, who has made a particular and deep study of the construction and the mechanics of the human body, who has observed all the alterations that the seasons, intemperance, excess of every kind, and the decrepitude of age can bring to health, who has made exact and painstaking research into the means that can be employed to repair it, that is a little cleared without a doubt, who say that the science of the Doctor consists of the uncertain opinions, accredited by experience, of which Patients flatter themselves to prolong their days by his advice, and that the knowledge that he has plants only serves to stun men and to trick them. The discoveries th

Isabelle Sloan Rohlfs, 1916

Isabelle Sloan Rohlfs on her wedding day, 1916, 1984.24.3 ; gown is 1984.24.1 (pattern at link) This wedding dress is a great example of its period in several ways. The layered closures, snapping to cover each other, all covered with a tunic layer that fastens on the side and at the shoulder; the loose bodice and slight shaping at the waist. The skirt is rather long and narrow, but conservatism in wedding dress is not a strange thing. The pattern for the crepe top layer of the skirt is somewhat confusing, but the piece is simply so big that it wouldn't fit without abbreviation. Basically, the wavy bottom edge is mirrored on the other side, but it stops where the front edge - continuing in the same straight line - hits it. (The top edge is the same length from center back to center front on both sides.) This era is a very confusing one for patterning: while the foundation layers are usually fitted, most of the outer ones seem to have been draped over the linings on a dress fo

Les Costumes François, Plate 6

THE BOURGEOIS  AND BOURGEOISE . The bourgeoisie  is the most considerable estate in the Kingdom, insomuch as it is the most numerous. It is the bourgeoisie  that fills the coffers of the Sovereign and that peoples the Cities. An Empire is more or less flourishing according to the affluence of the Bourgeois . The Kings of France have made such a case of this part of their subjects, that they have exempted the Bouregois  of Paris and other great cities of the Kingdom from the rights of the Frankish fiefs, of the bank and back bank, and they have been permitted to bear Arms the same as the noble Knights; but let us see what are the qualities which constitute the bourgeois . In Paris, all the Merchants pass for such and nearly all the inhabitants of Paris take the quality, without which it is contested of them; however, the Merchants and people of matching estate are never regarded as noble. When even they will have acquired the right of nobility to be Aldermen, from the moment that t

Emile Pingat (1820-1901)

For various reasons, certain designers have stuck in the collective consciousness as being the single greatest creative minds of their times. Gabrielle Chanel and Madeleine Vionnet are good examples: as you know , some hold them up as the only important couturiers of the 1920s because they're the two remembered  couturiers of the 1920s. When it comes to the mid-to-late 19th century, a similar issue crops up with Charles Frederick Worth. One might conclude that his was the only couture house for the discerning, wealthy woman, but that's not the case. Emile Pingat was Worth's contemporary and equal in the eyes of many American and European women of the period. Very little is known about Pingat's life, early or later. In 1860 he was first listed in the Paris directory as "Pingat, Hudson et Cie ", at 30 rue Louis-le-Grand , (see  1862 ) selling " nouveautés confect[ionées] ";* by the  latter half of the decade , Hudson and Co. had gone, and Pingat was

Les Costumes François, Plate 5

THE FINANCIER AND THE ABBE. The name of Financier is given to a citizen charged with the collection of State revenues. A man of this type will be, without contradiction, very estimable, if he proportions the gains he makes to his place with his labors, but as he is persuaded that his administration is a beautiful machine, he believes himself the most important man and with the safety of a thousand efforts that he enjoys and which are unknown to the public, he often abuses his job. However, several Financiers are found in the Kingdom who distinguish themselves by their probity and their facetious manners. The Financier's clothes are rich; his magnificent apartments and the plumpness with which he is shown here announce his opulence. His luxury often effaces other people's, who by state are obliged to distinguish themselves from common men. Formerly protegés of people of rank, financiers want to become their rivals, and most often proud of their richness, some take a tone o

Coming in Autumn 2016

I'm 26, coming of age into the post-recession world in a field that is largely government- and charity-funded, and therefore dropped half of its workforce just before I was ready to join it. I've done some work in the field and as much as a temp out of it; in the periods of unemployment I've applied to every lower-level history museum job out there, and worked on taking patterns (see my grand project  label) to make a book on 18th century women's dress. I spent the past year writing the explanatory text - my handwriting isn't as good as Janet Arnold's, so it has to be moved off the pattern, which introduces more confusion and explanation - along with an introduction, a description of the progress of women's dress over the course of the century, and a description of the usual construction techniques. In academia, it's not considered sensible to write a book before you have a contract. You're supposed to write a proposal and send it to publishers, ge

Mrs. Joseph Mead's Slippers, 1856

Wedding slippers, 1966.21.3a-b  (pattern available at link) Unfortunately, I don't know anything about Joseph Mead's unnamed wife. And her wedding gown either no longer survives or is being held somewhere else. The attribution might not even be correct - it's based on a handwritten note placed inside one shoe (the handwriting does look to be Victorian, however, so I tend to think it was done by someone with first-hand knowledge). I wish the gown did  survive - not just because every surviving gown is a victory against entropy and the Lone Power, but because that fabric is pretty amazing, and I would love to see it stretching over the yards and yards of an 1850s skirt. However, these slippers are in good condition, and it's good to have them! The construction is very simple, and anyone who wants to have slippers to match her gown should be able to use the pattern to make them.

Les Costumes François, Plate 4

RELIGIOUS MEN AND WOMEN. The word Monk means alone: it was given in the early Church to Christians who lived far from the commerce of men, to be particularly sacred to God; several of these Monks, being united, lived under the government of a Superior, at which time they were no longer truly Monks; while the Benedictines and those who live in Abbeys, having kept this denomination, they are called Religious Men. Their dress consists of a Tunic and a Hood, the dress most conformed to the voluntary humility of their state. The Capuchins were not very removed from this manner of dress, as can be seen in the figure represented here: they are dressed in a large gown, a cloak, and a hood of a thick grey cloth; they have sandals, wear a beard and a crown of hair. Religious Men possess nothing, they live only on alms; Cloisters used to be protected in men's Monasteries, which had a hospice to receive strangers, in which secular people were allowed to go, but the prohibition has still