Saturday, November 24, 2018

DAY 59: Masquerade Ball

The Duchess of Portland's Worth costume as Duchess of Savoia for the Devonshire Ball
Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee during the summer of 1897, which meant all of London found a reason to party. Jennie Churchill's friends, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, were no exception. On July 2, they threw a Fancy-dress ball at Devonshire House in Mayfair to celebrate the Queen's sixty years as monarch. The Devonshire House Ball went down in history.

Jennie had known the Devonshires as her intimate friends Lottie and Hart, long before they became duke and duchess. Lottie--who was Consuelo Yznaga's mother-in-law--was Louise Montagu, Duchess of Manchester, before she married Spencer Cavendish, the 8th Duke of Devonshire in 1892. By birth she was a German countess and a cousin of Count Charles Kinsky. Before he was Devonshire, Cavendish was the Marquis of Hartington--who served as Minister of War in Prime Minister Gladstone's cabinet. The two had been in love for years before Lottie's husband died and left her free to remarry. Hart had remained single for her sake until the age of 59. 

The guests commissioned their costumes from the House of Worth in Paris. I've already posted Minnie Paget's photograph as Cleopatra (see Day 79). Here is Lottie's gown, designed to represent Queen Zenobia of Palmyra. 

Jennie Churchill, seen here at right, went as the Empress Theodora from sixth-century Byzantium.

The male guests also commissioned elaborate costumes--here is Lord Randolph's lifelong friend, Archie Primrose, the 5th Earl of Rosebery and former prime minister, as "a gentleman of the 18th century." 

Daisy, Countess of Warwick (who was the longtime mistress of Bertie, Prince of Wales) graced the Devonshire House Ball as Marie Antoinette. She became a socialist later in life, which makes the choice somewhat amusing.

Harem costume, House of Worth, 1870.

What these black and white photographs fail to capture about fancy-dress, sadly, is the magnificance of the colors and details the usually circumspect British wearers allowed themselves to parade. So I'm tossing down these archived costumes to give a taste of the whirl of visual splendor the room must have held.
Matador dress, 1880
Georgian Revival costume channeling 1770s, Worth.

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

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