Unfortunately the Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Lyon’s website is down but I can still share the inspiration for my new gown with you!
The original text reads: “C’est une robe-chemise blanche en mousseline de coton, à traîne, à manches courtes et au décolleté carré. Elle date de 1805 : On l’appelle demi-parure. C’est la tenue idéale que Juliette Récamier pouvait porter le soir pour briller en société ou aller au bal, mais ce n’est pas non plus une robe de Cour”.
Please forgive my terrible English translation (assisted by Google translate when I got stuck): ” A dress of white cotton muslin, train, short sleeves and square neckline. It dates from 1805 and is called a half-set. This is the perfect outfit that Juliette Recamier would wear in the evening (google translate says) to shine in society (?), or go to the ball, but this is not a Court gown. ”
Attributed to Charles James
The Met says: Charles James produced some of the most memorable garments ever made. He began his design career in the 1930s. It peaked between the late 1940s and mid- 1950s, when his scarce and highly original gowns were sought after by society’s most prominent women. Personally draping and constructing the garments that bear his label, he is considered to be the only American to work in the true couture tradition. James saw himself as an artist and sculptor of dress rather than a dressmaker. He manipulated fabrics into dramatic shapes using complex seaming and sometimes complicated understructures to create his singular vision of timeless elegance. A master of the relationship between form, color and texture, he often heightened the drama of his evening wear by combining several like fabrics of different colors, or different fabrics in like colors but with different light reflective qualities. Also a perfectionist, he worked for years on refining certain seam lines, shapes and constructs that particularly expressed his vision of artistry through rigorous engineering. Many of his pieces are conceived asymmetrically and possess a sense of movement and vitality that is a signature characteristic of his work. Many historical references in shapes and construction, especially the drapery forms of the 1870s and early teens, are also prevalent throughout his work.
The Met says: An example of a form of underpinning that combined the petticoat and corset cover into one piece, this example of Belle Époque underwear shows the typical lavishly sewn details common during this period, even for so-called unmentionables. The placement of the lace insertions and the tucked panels is visually pleasing and the level of skilled hand work required is evidenced in the delicate hemstitching used to join the piece. The Belle Époque period, which lasted from the late nineteenth century to World War I, saw great detail in garment decoration, and as this slip exhibits, in the undergarments as well.
The ladies déshabillé theme won by a landslide! I would also like to announce that I have changed the time period to cover the Victorians through the 20s and I may throw in a 30s piece just for fun.
French Underwear, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916
For the next theme post would you rather see Victorian-Edwardian ladies déshabillé or clothing in La couleur noire?