Saturday, September 26, 2015

Scatter #72

Hoh-kay, so another week has zipped by and its time for our favorite treat!  Yup its time or me to dredge up some of the detritus of my crowded mental sub-basement.  Let's do this!
     First up this sedate and lovely dinner dress from the early 1870s. Apart from its obvious quality of assembly, and its restrained color palette, the thing that I zeroed in on right away was a trend that was quite popular for a while through the 70s and 80s, attaching an excessively decorated pocket to one side of the dress.  Yep, that large mass of decoration smack in the middle of the side of the dress is a capacious, functional pocket.  Doubtless most ladies of fashion probably carried nothing other than a hankie in there. So its a curious thing. Because this fashion was not something that translated to the lower classes, who actually did the real work.  This was an affectation taken up by trendy ladies who wanted to imply that they took an active, (read, physical) role in the running of the household, without doing so, really.  Typically these sorts of pockets were on one side only, and were overburdened with so much decoration that the use of them was entirely concealed, like the one on this garment.  It is especially ironic considering that this is a dinner dress, and as such would have been nowhere near any labor greater than surviving dull conversations.  Side note: this is a big file. click and drag this and expand it.  Lots of good detail here.
    This image will have to go into my book, whenever I get around to writing it, because its a perfect example of the variability of a single Attire word.  The word of course is, jacket. But each one of these, though essentially jackets has numerous modifiers attached to them that identify them further, and give them specificity. And it is this level of detail with regard to definition of a garment that makes the Attire language so enormous, and so complex.  Each one of these 6 jackets expresses something completely different, and they haven't even been put together with other clothes to make an entire ensemble.  So when we do that, add another item onto existing ones, it leyers, literally, more complexity onto the statement presented.
    This ring is from Odessa, form between 1908 and 1917.  What I love about it is its amazing modernity. Its a jeweled exclamation point, though I doubt that was intended by its Russian maker.  The utter simplicity of it is wonderful. no decoration on the narrow gold band. No intrusive fripperies around the two jewels.  Yes, please. I will take one just like it.  I wear a size 7 ring.
    Next up, a short visit from Princess Alice, daughter of Victoria and Albert, in a mourning costume for her father the Prince.  The picture was taken in 1861, shortly after his death in mid December.  Of course the portrait is mournfully serious, but what I focused on right off was the abundant decorative detail on her dress.  It was very common to decorate clothing with embellishments made of the same material as the dress body. In this case yards and yards of the fabric have been cut into strips of varying width, cartridge pleated, and then applied to the dress.  There are also cockades of the same material at the points of the swagged trim.  It must have required another 3 or 4 yards for goods to create the trimmings for this huge dress.  And since this was right at the beginning of official mourning it is unrelieved black.
    Designer Juun J. turned out this wildly over scaled jacket as part of his 2014 Fall collection.  Though it would require someone tall to carry off well, I love the play with proportion here.  Plus its immaculately constructed, which I appreciate.  I also love that it's cropped to the waist, which is quite unusual for men's jackets.  If only I were 6 feet plus I would be all over that. Sighs.

This beautiful thing is a part of the Met's enormous collection.  Its a purse, made in about 1575, and as such is one of the older items in the collection.  Its made of linen, and embroidered in silk with gold and silver. Such a purse would have been worn looped over the belt, and could have been equally used by a man or a woman.  Purses like these were important gifts, often presented to people of rank, and also often given as gifts to prospective marriage partners.  The embroidery work is beautifully, and finely done. Even the two wooden spool tassels are completely covered in stitch work.
     I will be honest and say I don't much care for this, visually. but as a commentary, its worthwhile.  Calling attention to human vitals, so that we are forced to consider what the reality is beneath the clothing. And then rendering that in complex beadwork is both a second layer of commentary, and a piece of urban irony, of which we have a good deal these days.  As a garment its essentially an over-sized and rather shapeless t shirt, and there is where I think the concept lags a bit.  I would like to have seen this same idea presented in a way that more strongly juxtaposed the beaded surface, with the message. I think something more body hugging would have punched up the message.
    This is a kind of layering I could easily get behind.  I like the simplicity of this, and the proportions.  Its a manner of dress that is both practical, and adaptable to many body shapes.  I particularly like the long sleeved shirt paired with the shorter sleeved tunic. I can imagine this same combination of pieces made up in many different color and texture variations.
    Runway styling.  Naturally there is no expectation on the part of designers that real folk will attempt to create their runway looks entirely. In fact, people who do attempt almost always fail.  They are meant to be theater, and as such don't translate well to the street.  Its a huge change from how runways shows used to be done. Of course the shows were done within the fashion houses themselves, so there was no room for theatrics, but the models were always presented in a way that would be able to walk out the front door and into the world.  But now, when a runway show could be presented in front of 2000 people the need to create greater visual impact is pronounced.  So we get bigger hair, crazier accessories, and more unusual combinations of garments.  Stella Jean, S/S 2016.
    Here's an interesting little item.  The watch fob used to be an essential part of a man's dress. It performed a real function. allowing the watch to swing free on its chain when needed, without fear of its falling to the ground.  This one of gold, with a central topaz stone that rotates freely in the mounting once belonged to a serious collector of watches, Aaron Burr, who shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804, ending his political career, even though he was never tried for the duel.  This fob dates from a few years before his death in 1836.  He must have been a gentleman who liked his bling.
    This is the Allan Ramsay coronation portrait of George III of England (1762).  The poor fellow must have been getting slowly cooked in all that panoply, even if all had had to do was stand there.  The entire cloak train is lined in ermine.  The coat is half lined in ermine, and the rest of his ensemble is trimmed in it.  Thousands of little rodents lost their lives for the grand statement of royal power.  Oh, but the luxe doesn't stop there.  Cloth of gold suit, check, broad bands of gold galloon trimmings, check, silk velvet in abundance, check.  Then there are the garter, ceremonial sword, order chain, bows and ribbons to deal with.  No wonder the poor fellow looks miserable.  But as a declarative about real world power, its would be hard to top.
   Made for the Canadian lady's wear market, this exquisite hood was beaded and sewn by women of the Cree tribe in James Bay, using their beadwork techniques but rendering popular more European styled imagery.  The lovely pattern of flowers and leaves is done in seed stitch work and the hood is finished on the bottom with a complexly worked bead fringe.  Such a hood as this performed two functions. It kept the head warm, and because of the length, it would fan out over the shoulders, keeping snow or rain away.  native populations producing items using their techniques but created to sell to people outside of their culture is nothing new by any means.  And this is a superb example.

Well, that wraps it up for this week's scatter.  Go enjoy the weekend!

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