In writing an account of the Ball for The Graphic, Lady Violet Greville felt, as she spoke of the Princess of Wales, constrained to quote the 16th-century French author Brantôme who described Marguerite de Valois as “robed in cloth of silver with long sleeves, her hair richly dressed and her whole appearance of such grace and majesty that she resembled more a goddess from heaven than a Queen upon earth.”
At long last I can share my costume with the world. Eight months ago I entered my final year at Wimbledon College of Art studying Costume Interpretation. Our first assignment was to create a costume to compliment the new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace entitled ‘In Fine Style’. As I walked around the Red Room during the Da Vinci exhibition I could never imagine that just a short while later my own costume would grace this majestic room.
I chose to recreate the fancy dress costume of Alexandra, Princess of Wales dressed as Marguerite de Valois worn to the Duchess of Devonshire House Ball in 1897. As I was the intern for The Tudor Tailor last year and helped to make the costumes and work on the photo shoot for the new book The Tudor Child (I cried when I found my name in the Acknowledgements) I was requested to create the costume of the Hon. Louvima Knollys who accompanied Alexandra as her page.
The skirt and bodice is entirely finished by hand. I started with eight small appliqués to build my shape and completed the surface decoration by hand based on the photos. I thought after this costume I would never wish to string another pearl or couch another row again but for my final costume I am still working on beading. I was able to study close ups of the image at the National Archives and I was graciously granted permission to study hi-res images of the 4 existing photographs of Alexandra. Both of these allowed me to re-create what is hopefully a very close historic reproduction of this costume.
I am grateful to both of my models, to all of the researchers who assisted me in this endeavour to track down photos to study, to you my followers who continue to inspire me, and most of all to my mother who was very patient during my frantic midnight phone calls.
I will leave you with the quote that first came to mind when my models descended the staircase into the gallery last night, ‘ She [Alexandra] came down one day in a marvellous … long flowering train. She dazzled me utterly, I was speechless with adoration’.
Corset griffé, Aux Iles Marquises, Mme Brédian, Paris, vers 1875, satin de soie crème entièrement baleiné, bordé de volants de tulle brodé, rubans rose et d’une fleur de ruban crème devant. Laçage à oeillets dans le dos, ouverture frontale par 4 fortes agrafes métalliques.
Google says: Corset scratched, the Marquesas Islands, Ms. Brédian, Paris, circa 1875, cream silk satin fully boned and lined with embroidered tulle ruffles, ribbons and a pink flower cream ribbon before. Lacing eyelets in the back, front opening by 4 strong metal clips.
I feel like I have seen quite a few of these items before.
Cape vers 1890, en velours de soie noir brodé en perles de jais ton sur ton d’un grand décor floral; col pèlerine montant garni d’autruche noire à découpe festonnée.
Google says: Cape 1890, black silk velvet embroidered with jet beads tonal a large floral decoration, cape collar trimmed with black ostrich scalloped cutout.
Paire de chaussures de dame, Second Empire, mules à bouts carrés et petits talons en maroquin rouge, garnies de ruchés de ruban framboise et de boucles en métal. (bon état).
My bad google translation: Pair of lady shoes, Second Empire, mules and small square-toed heels in red leather, trimmed with ruched raspberry ribbon and metal buckles. (good).
I love that description!
Another example of an item being sold that was originally listed on AA.
Comparing the acution description (especially the dates) is very interesting.
AA lists this item as: Young Lady’s Sea Side Ensemble, c. 1880: 3-piece, skirt, bodice & belt, all in blue chambray trimmed w/ ivory eyelet bands: skirt w/ apron front, hem ruffle & 5 ruffles over bustle back; fitted blouse, front thread woven buttons, band collar; eyelet belt w/ huge chambray back bow, B 30”, W 20”, Skirt L 52”, (couple tiny holes, brown discoloration on chambray) very good; t/w 1 red & white striped cotton shirt waist, excellent. Brooklyn Museum
The current listing describes the item as: Robe pour le bord de mer, vers 1890, en toile de coton chinée bleu ciel, corsage cintré à basques rondes, garnitures de volants et entredeux en broderie anglaise. Jupe à tablier drapé à 5 hauteurs de volants sur la tournure, (usures et restaurations).
And according to google this means: Dress for the seaside, 1890, canvas cotton mottled blue sky, bodice curved round skirts and ruffles trim entredeux broderie anglaise. Skirt apron draped 5 heights of flying on the turn (wear and restorations).
For more images click here
That hem is fantastic!
Robe de jour vers 1885, en ottoman de ton café au lait et chocolat; haut en pointe à effet de veste ouverte sur un corsage à col montant rebrodé en trompe-l’oeil de dentelle. Jupe asymétrique à deux grands volants en dents de scie, pan contrasté sur un côté, traîne drapée tombant depuis la taille, (usures, petites taches et petites restaurations).
Robe d’après-midi, vers 1874, en organdi crème imprimé en noir de guirlandes montantes de nèfles; corsage en pointe agrafé devant à basques rondes, décolleté bateau souligné de fronces et d’un volant, mancherons gansés. Jupe volantée sur tournure à petite traîne, tablier drapé offrant de beaux effets de transparence et superposition du décor imprimé, des liens fixés sur l’envers permettent de commander le mouvement du drapé du haut de la tournure, (état superbe, rares petits trous).
Lady’s mule slippers with long, narrow Continental toe, early 18th century
Lady’s shoes, Swedish, c. 1700
Sofia Magdalena’s coronation shoes, 1771
Queen Desideria’s coronation shoes, 1829
Queen Lovisa Ulrika’s coronation shoes, 1751
Queen Victoria’s white silk atlas wedding shoes, 1881
Queen Desideria’s silk shoe, including a silk bow decorated with 31 gold-colored spangles
Mrs. Cappelen’s shoes, covered in white silk, from Paris c. 1850
Absolutely fantastic article! Please make sure to stop by and let her know how much you enjoyed the post!
‘In fact, some have described shoes as “candy for the eye, a poetry of the feet” ‘.
V&A: Pair of black silk knitted stockings embroidered with green sequins and green and gold beads. Decorated with a winding silver snake that curls twice around the lower leg and whose head rests on the forepart of foot.
c. Late 1870s
There were some similarities present in the extant gown and the fashion plate which I found pleasing so I posted them together.
Gorgeous details on both the dresses. Le Salon de la Mode 1886