Saturday, December 20, 2014

Journal Journey into the Year 1811: La Belle Assemblée Fashions for November (October issue), Part 1

As you know well my now, my having repeated it like a parrot each month, La Belle Assemblée reported on fashions one month ahead of the date of publication.

As 2014 moves towards its finis, and given that I am behind and really should be reporting on December fashions -- it being December and all -- I've decided to focus on the fashion month being reported, not the publication month. So this month we'll read about November fashions (October issue), and in a week or two, if I have time, I'll wind up with December fashions (November issue), Poor dears, you'll miss January 1812. Confused yet? So am I. Writing this was squirrely for some 15 minutes while my logy brain attempted to sort out 2015 time, 1811 publication time, and 1811 fashion time. What with how long it's taking me to complete these entries, this month is split into two posts, of which this is rather obviously the first.

This month we have just one fashion plate, a rather wild study in velvet and romanticism. You can spot a Romantic outfit a mile off, because it often involves velvet, rich colors, gold, braiding and lacing and a floppy hat with a feather, and what do you know, this one includes all of those items except the gold. No wait, there's a gold watch. Check. Not surprised that a rather lengthy and overblown poem by Sir Walter Scott is featured in the same issue.

Now, please don't forget to read the London report from Ackerman's, and those from Weimar and Paris. At this point we're all at different points in the calendar, but no matter, it should even up.

Sabine in Weimar: Journal des Luxus und der Moden
Alessandra in Paris: Journal des Dames et des Modes
Maggie, in London: Ackermann's

So here we go. Here is page 212, with notes afterward, per usual. Happy reading!



Promenade, Or Carriage Morning Costume.

Morning walking dress, La Belle Assemblee, November 1811. Source: Collection Maciet,
Mode. [XIXe siècle]. 1801 à 1811.
NB: The colors in the plate appear to have faded; if you look carefully the velvet trim on the pelisse and bonnet is purple, not black.

A fawn colour or amber velvet three quarters pelisse; faced and ornamented round the bottom and sleeves with Regency purple velvet, and laced down the waist, shoulders, and half way down the sides of the skirt, with rich cordons of purple; terminating with a tassel: a purple velvet collar stands up, is rounded behind, and comes down to a point below the throat: the cuffs are of purple velvet, trimmed with fine white lace. Over the sleeve is a demi-sleeve divided; between which division small purple ornaments, in the form of aiguilletes, but without the tags, are sometimes introduced when this dress is made of twilled sarsnet instead of velvet. The pelisse is trimmed all round, and up that part of the sides which are not laced with the cordon, with white French lace; and worn over an high dress of fine jaconot muslin, with a demi-train: this dress is made something in the chemisette form, with a single lace ruff. A Queen Mary's bonnet of the same colour and materials as the pelisse, trimmed round the edge with quilled ribband of purple satin, or rich fancy trimming of silk; and surmounted by a long flat ostrich feather of purple, turned from the face, half drooping towards the crown, which is puckered, and of a conic form. A gold watch is worn on the outside of the pelisse, with small gold chain, and very little ornament. Ridicule of faun colour or amber, with purple strings aid tassels; purple kid gloves, and demi-broquins, or quarter boots of the same.


Aiguillettes: properly, the little ends to braided cords that one finds on uniforms. Here, probably referring to braided cords connecting the divided sleeves, and very much complementing the rest of the outfit.

Cordons: braid trim.

Demi-broquins: "quarter-boots". "Broquin" is a term that might come from brogues"  "Broquin" as a word doesn't appear at all in standard dictionaries of the early 19th century, so it's surely purely a fashion term. Because it so closely sounds like "brogue" I suspect the term is borrowed. Brogue is Gaelic for a low-heeled shoe. Surely Imagine: from Gaelic to English to French referring back to Gaelic. Wow.

What is curious is that it appears the boot fronts are cut through in triangles in the front, or feature appliques of a contrasting color. It's too bad more detail was not provided.

Demi-train: short train that barely drags the floor, as shown in the plate. Now that we are sure of that one, we can move on!

High-necked (under) dress: there were a lot of these during this period. Really a much more suitable style for much of Europe than much of what was worn. In the case of this month's plate, the top is described as being in the chemisette style, which we can clearly picture...and it's even described as having a single ruff, a ruff being a common chemisette fashion. Wonder if a number of the high-necked extant dresses that we see were meant to be worn under a pelisse or at least a spencer? Something to think on.

Ostrich feather: described as long and flat. This means that the tips have not been curled, as they so often were, and it gives a rather clean, fresh effect.

Pelisse: the front-closing upper garment, here used also as the outdoor garment, with a light muslin dress underneath, which peeks out at both the bottom and through the divided sleeves. Gracious, the ensemble doesn't seem that warm to me. There is no discussion of there being any sort of lining.

Queen Mary's bonnet: in this plate, we have a fanciful rendition of the Tudor-era coif worn by Queen Mary  in the early 1600s. Here's a painting of the Queen, by Rowland Lockey, painted between 1610-20.

Mary, Queen of Scots, by Rowland Lockey. Source: BBC - Your Paintings.
Painting dated 1585 at top right.
The general shape is there, even the heart-shaped dip that was to be so popular on and off through the 19th century and even into the 20th. However, the look is a bit heavier and the crown is quite a bit longer than the original coif would have been, since this is a different era and an outdoor affair. Really, it's rather another take on the scoop bonnet, but with a few changes, so wearing it would not have been so very out of the way.

Now, add a feather:
Mary, Queen of Scots, painted by the British (English) School. Source: BBC - Your Paintings.
More information from the National Trust.
In this painting Mary is wearing a flat cap above her coif, so feathers fancifully fit the look of the 1811 version.

Quilling: a pleated trim. "Quill: v. a. to plait; to form in plaits." (From Joseph Emerson Worcester.
A Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language: With Pronouncing Vocabularies of Classical and Scripture Proper Names. Collins and Hannay, 1830.)
When modern costumers talk of pleated trims on Regency-era items, the term to use is "quilling". The term survived deep into the 19th century: it appears over and over in descriptions of dresses with pleating, and even appears in 1888describing the pleats of lace on a lampshade.  (Peterson Magazine, 1888., p. 180.)

Ridicule: a contemporary term for reticule. Well, more evidence that the ridicule-ish term was used in all seriousity.

Watch: sadly, there is no indication of where the watch is fixed to the dress. Is it on a chain, pinned, or on a necklace? The model holds it in her hand so this is unclear.

Next time, Part II and the fashion observations for November.


Unknown said...

Here is my Elizabethan beginning to living history talking but do you think perhaps they mean Queen Mary, not Mary Queen of Scotts. It looks to me more like a French Hood, and less like the later heart shaped cap. Thoughts?

ZipZip said...

Dear Maggie,
Gack! You're right! Off to correct the error. Many thanks and a deep courtesy.



ZipZip said...

Oop, I have to backtrack. Both are Mary, Queen of Scots. The first painting is dated 1585, after Queen Mary I passed away, and the second painting is said to be her by the National Trust.