Thursday, September 18, 2014


    I've never before done a post here about a single ensemble.  But this is just so flat out extraordinary, that I really must.
    I was searching around this morning on various blogs, doing my usual gleaning of images for use now and later on Attire's Mind, when I stumbled upon this court ensemble, created by the venerated house of Drecoll, Vienna; and found through It was made up somewhere in the late 19th or very early 20th centuries.
    Now, most of what we know about, or think we know about court etiquette, comes from the British monarchial traditions.  Things varied considerably from place to place with regards to the regulations of attire for presentation to a sovereign. The style of this costume places it in Eastern Europe, where the court traditions required an adherence to apparel that recalled traditional national attire.
     The dress itself is of genuine gold lame'. The sleeves are overlaid with gold lace. The dress body is unadorned lame'  The fact of this being actual gold lame' makes this not just court appropriate, but it would have been a supremely costly item, as the silk thread core of the fabric is wound with actual gold wire or strip. Only gold, silver and copper are fully malleable enough to be used in this way. Other metals would break quickly under the continual flexing of motion.
    The entire bodice front is covered with a silk net plastron that continues to the hem.  The net has been embroidered with glass beads pearls and paste stones, as are the cuffs of the gown.
  The cuffs are of interest because they are a clue to why I think this was for use in some east European court.  it was very common, especially in colder countries for clothing to have extra long cuffs on the sleeves, to help keep the hands warm.  The very long embroidered cuffs here are perfectly in line with that idea.
  Also, the dress does not follow the existing fashion trends, with the exception of the gathering of the lace on the sleeves.
    Then there is that amazing trained vest coat.  The large scaled silk brocade is a gold and white composition of bouquets of flowers on a lattice work background.  This, like the lame' is a textile of the very highest order; and Drecoll wisely kept the style simple to allow the fabric to sing as it should.  The entire outer edge of the coat is bordered in ermine, which has clearly been stored well, since it would have otherwise dried out and begun to deteriorate.
    All in all this is a truly remarkable thing.  Its survival owes, I am sure, to it having been tucked away after its use, and carefully tended over an entire century of time.  So many things of this sort ended up being cut apart and reused, remade into masquerade costumes, or worse yet, given over to children to play dress up in.
    Considering the fragility of textiles, this is a wonder.

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