Evening dress, ca. 1884–86
American or European
Gift of Mrs. J. Randall Creel, 1963 (C.I.63.23.3a,b)
The Met says: After a period of literal descent down the back of the body, the bustle achieved its greatest extension by 1885. It was almost perpendicular to the back and heavily draped and trimmed. The 1880s versions were as padded and heavily embellished as a drawing-room hassock of the period. It was a popular conceit that these bustles could support an entire tea service. To sustain the greater weight of the 1880s gowns, light and flexible infrastructures were created with flexible materials—wire, cane, whalebone—held together by canvas tapes or inserted into quilted channels. The torso above the projection of the bustle was further articulated into an hourglass shape, so much so that it appeared to be encased in a piece of armor.
Emile Pingat (1820–1901), Paris, Skirt and polonaise, 1885. Velvet, beads, silk, glass. Collection of Shelburne Museum. 2010-75
"Emile Pingat has taken a page from the 18th century, adapting a classical men’s court ensemble and feminizing it. Instead of breeches that match the coat, there is a long velvet skirt finished with a ruffle. The apparent waistcoat is not a separate garment but instead is constructed as two decorative panels set into the coat. Pingat has updated the style and beauty of aristocratic men’s clothing by adding the small pointed zigzag motif in the embroidery. This one-of-a-kind colonial revival style dress would have been worn to a ball or masquerade with appropriate accessories that could have included a wig, fan, and shoes.
As childish as it is this song has been playing on my ipod on repeat every December for the past three years as I aimlessly wander around Heathrow in the early hours of the morning. While my adult home is in my adopted country half my heart still resides in my childhood home. Even I cannot resist the pull to make my heart whole even if it is for a short time. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see the States again and yet there is no use dwelling on such sad thoughts, I will make the most of this holiday and be thankful that I was able to have this time with my family. I’m sure most of you will agree that while skype is beautiful it’s nothing compared to the warmth of a hug.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of me on a plane. (Most likely because I’m usually found curled up in a ball glaring at everyone to leave me alone while I play ‘I-bet-I-can-finish-this-book-before-the-plane-lands’.) My mom took this of me when we were coming back from the Jane Austen Festival in Bath (look! You can even see my super awesome iphone cover!!!).
I’m in transit tomorrow so please wish me a safe journey and spare a small prayer for all of those traveling tomorrow that we might safely reach our destinations. See you all stateside!