Friday, August 19, 2011

The Edwardian Era

This blog started off as a fun blog with pretty fashion ladies and other French symbols! But since beginning it, I have ordered books from all over the world and collected lots of clip art. I often spend time in second-hand book stores too, concentrating on period and historical literature .

I am therefore creating some order here and will start with the first great fashion era of the century: The Edwardian Era, fondly known as la belle epoque and also called the Long Edwardian Summer! King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria set the scene with a lavish and opulent lifestyle. He loved France and all things French and Queen Alexandra was the first to wear many of the new trends.
This simple painting shows many Edwardian fashion trends:
  • The hair, supplemented by false hair pieces, was piled high and loosely on top of the head with a fringe effect over the forehead. Pads and frames were used to keep the hair gently in place. There were "tornure" frames and heart-shaped frames. With a frame in place the hair could support large hats too.
  • The neck for evening wear was wide open to the bust line which appeared as one single rise of flesh.
  • The stance of the Edwardian lady was very upright, just think of "Eliza Doolittle" in the ball scene in "My Fair Lady"! Undergarments played a role in this stance and I will have a post about them.
  • All soft pastel shades were worn: pink, blue , mauve and soft shades called "eau de Nile" and "ashes of roses"! The soft shades matched the lightness of the fabrics. Here we see a lemon yellow ball dress by Gustav Beer, maybe the first German designer to open shop in Paris.
  • Inserts, like the purple velvet insets seen here was popular, and lace was quite the rage! This dress have shoulder straps, rosettes and trimmings of lace and ribbon contrasts.
  • The lace- trimmed open-ended sleeves were called pagoda sleeves. Don't they just look like pagodas?
  • Another great Edwardian fashion trend shown in my painting, is the "dog collar" made of many rows of pearls and fastened with a diamond clasp, one of the fashions first seen on Queen Alexandra. Read more about Queen Alexandra's Pearls.
  • Already in this painting, there is a hint of the small (wasp) waist, of which I will tell more in the next post!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hats for Smart Wear

Towards 1927 smart suits were worn by women and "misses" alike. The world started a lasting love affair with crisp white shirts, also called overblouses in the Twenties as they were not always tucked into the skirts but had a band around the hips to round off the design. The blouses could be made from chiffon, a material called radium silk, and popular English broadcloth! Now why does that last material sound so strong and practical?

Feathers and porcupine quils were found on hats throughout the Twenties and I decided to use a Berti Borelli type of design for my belle with the unexposed hair, the black parts being part of the hat design and not hair! And, yes, you can buy vintage style hats on E-Bay today! And one last thought, one can still spot the Victorian bonnet in the style!