Showing posts from October, 2014

On Mourning

(I decided to write this post because I'm planning to branch out into historical social topics more frequently - but it lines up very well with an event this week! I will be attending  Death Becomes You  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Halloween, in a post-Edwardian black wool dress with white collar and cuffs. Hope to see you there! Next week, I'll be posting some information about the dress, plus gloating about how happy I am with my dyed Renoir boots.) The subject of mourning is a very popular one when it comes to the mythology of the Victorian period. Traditional rules of mourning, however, go back further than Prince Albert's death, Victoria's reign, or even the nineteenth century. The concept of mourning in specific clothing is very, very old, but to focus specifically on Western European codes involving specific styles of dress, stages of intensity, and periods of time, a mourning code including concepts of first and second mourning extends at least as

Georges Doeuillet (1865-1930?)

Georges Doeuillet may be the least-known couturier I've written about so far - or perhaps second, after Jenny, since his real name is generally available. The only time his name comes up is in conjunction with Doucet, when the two houses merged at the end of the 1920s. But in fact (let this not be a total shock), he was a more interesting and important figure than his present obscurity would make him appear. Born in 1865, Doeuillet was part of the same generation as Louise Chéruit, Charles Poynter Redfern, and Jacques Doucet. (That is, the second generation - the first generation being born in the early part of the century, like Charles Frederick Worth, John Redfern, and Edouard Doucet.) However, his start came a little later in life. Some   sources state that he first worked as a business manager for Callot Soeurs, which opened in 1895. It seems likely that he began working there from the beginning, so one has to wonder - what did he do until then? At thirty, he would not have

The House of Doucet (1816-1928)

Just as John Redfern began as a mercer, the Doucet family's business began in fabric and lace. In 1841, La Mode  described the Doucets (then at 17 rue de la Paix ) has having a "numerous and noble clientele", highly stylish in late spring for "trousseaus and corbeilles " - the  corbeille  being the gift of material wealth given to a woman by her husband the morning after the wedding, a continuance of the medieval Morgengabe  - and was frequently recommended for fine  lace for ruffles, berthas, and skirt flounces. Toilettes from Petit Courrier des Dames , including chemisette and lace from Doucet, 1840; NYPL 802380 The business was split by 1862 into two parts, both housed at 21 rue de la Paix : Mme Doucet was a lingère , selling women's chemises, drawers, caps, and other linen and cotton articles, while her son Edouard was listed as a tailleur-chemisier , selling men's underwear and outerwear, and marked a "notable business". (Quite a fe

Redfern Ltd. (ca. 1855-1940)

Redfern is relatively well known as an early couture and tailoring house, but the specific people involved, or their talents beyond women's suits and riding attire, are often overlooked when discussing the progress of fashion - which is usually distilled down into a few vibrant personalities and their innovations. Redfern's early years overlapped with Charles Frederick Worth, who steals the spotlight from all contemporaries. Label from walking dress, 1885-1888; MMA 49.3.32d (OASC) John Redfern (1820-1895) opened a draper's establishment in the city of Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the mid-1850s, where he was joined by his sons. In the early 1870s, his shop expanded to sell silk as well as wool, and also clothes for mourning; a little later it seems to have added yachting dress, as Cowes was historically a center for boating and regattas. The early obscurity of the business means that many sources give slightly contradictory information, but it's connected to Lil