Monday, January 7, 2019

DAY 15: Leave Them Guessing

In this season of awards ceremonies and red carpets, we talk about "making an entrance." But in my years-long study of Gilded Age fashion, I've grown enamored of the back of ladies' gowns--and the way Victorian women knew how to make an exit.

They invite you to follow them out the door.

Here are some pictures that are better than a thousand words:

I call these gowns the: Pull me back into your life. 


Hang on to me if you can.

Jacques Doucet, ca 1900-1910

This gown, on the other hand, is a 19th-century dressmaker's vision of the deconstructed garment, contained mostly at the neck and wrists. Fascinating. Who designed it, and who was daring enough to wear it? I don't exactly know, because it's held in the Bunka Gauka Costume Museum in Japan, and I don't read Japanese. I do know that it dates from 1880.

This 1870s gown by House of Worth feels almost Swedish, somehow, in its coolness and restraint--and with that slash of cerise, effective both coming and going.

Musee de Costume et de Dentelle
And finally, this mourning gown with the extraordinary rear detail.

Forgive me a novelist's transgressions. I imagine the woman who wore this was married off at 17, to an earl in his sixties, who'd buried three wives before leaving her a widow at the age of 21.

She's inherited everything.
She's thrilled. 
And she's inviting you to be the next to unwrap her.

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel.   

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