Evening coat (Detail)
This evening coat with its distinctive oversized sleeves is a fine example of the work of the House of Rouff, a premiere couture house in the late-19th into the 20th century. Rouff was known for the lingerie feel to their garments, which always included a multitude of ruffles and laces.
Robe à la française
This robe à la française shows the silhouette most associated with eighteenth-century dress. The conical bodice and the rectangular skirts both function as vehicles for the display of the dressmaker’s art in that era. Decorating the skirts are self-fabric embellishments and fly fringe trim which suggest an opening curtain. The ribbons on the bodice serve to emphasize its triangular shape as it intersects with the rectangular skirts. This silhouette was made possible through the use of the underpinnings of stays and panniers.
Coat, Waistcoat and Breeches (Detail)
Mid-18th century menswear. The coat has large cuffs and deep pleats from both sides of the waist to the hem at the rear. The waistcoat is long enough to fully conceal the wearer’s back. Both have gorgeous weave patterns, with silver thread used for the coat, and the waistcoat using gold thread and various colours of silk thread.
Before the modern period, Men’s clothing worn by Western royalty and nobles was at least as splendid and gorgeous as that for women, as men dressed in a manner that would maintain class distinctions, flaunting their privileged status. Brocade looms were able to manufacture patterns as required, but weaving took a long time and the weaver had to have an assistant to manipulate the harness cord that adjusted the warp threads. Manufacturing figured textiles only became more mechanized with the arrival of the Jacquard loom in 1804.
Dress (robe à la française)
A typical 18th century women’s dress, “robe à la française”. The colour has a golden shine, resonating with the glossy brilliance of the crisp silk. In early Christian culture, yellow was seen as the colour of heretics, and held in contempt until medieval times. In China, yellow was the colour of the Emperor, a colour so noble that commoners were forbidden its use. The 18th century vogue for “chinoiserie” amongst Europeans resulted in new interest in yellow, leading it to become a fashionable colour. As shown on this dress, a fichu (triangular shawl) was draped over the shoulders, loosely covering the open area, and was inserted under the stomacher.
The stomacher, a V-shaped triangular panel, wore on the front of a woman’s open gown in the 18th century. To keep the bosom from standing out, the stomacher was extravagantly adorned with embroidery, laces, rows of ribbon bows called “échelle” (ladder) and sometimes with jewels. Since a stomacher needed to be pinned to the dress each time it was worn, this style was time-consuming.
This light summer dress in the crinoline style easily evokes the type of fashion depicted by Monet in his “Women in the Garden” (1866, Musée d’Orsay). Tarlatan, the type of fabric used here, became fashionable in the 1860s. It is thin plain-weave cotton, dyed or printed and then given a starched glaze. Despite its thinness, its firmness made it suitable for use with the large skirts of the crinoline style. In their outdoor scenes, Impressionist painters from the same period often captured the lightness and beauty of the then popular tarlatan with its airy and partially translucent appearance in the glistening daylight.
Evening Pajama (Detail)
This jacket features a gorgeous design of flowering plants created with both stencil print and a woven pattern in gold thread on the jacquard. The contrast of the subdued black silk background with this dazzling design on it creates an effect of elegance.
Pajamas that originated in India had permeated the West at the end of the 19th century as men’s nightgowns. Once the 1920s began, summers at the seashore, afternoon relaxation, night parties, and various other scenes were popular times for even women to wear them. In the 30s, long dresses were revived, and even as the boyish element of the 20s retreated, pajamas were well-established as hostess dresses, resort wear, and indoor-use articles.
House of Worth
The flowing S-curve silhouette of this dress is typical of its time. A water’s-edge pattern and plant pattern, lined up in a coordinated fashion, is appliquéd and embroidered onto thin silk chiffon and expressed three-dimensionally. The influence of Art Nouveau, a decorative art style popular from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th, is evident.
It seems as if the plant pattern arranged on the skirt is of Japanese iris, blooming on the waterfront. This stylized pattern makes one recall the plants that appear in the sketch collection supervised by the artists Eugène Grasset (1845–1917) and E.A. Séguy (1889-1985) who were affected on Japonism. These stylized designs were first applied to textiles. Wooden furniture, flower vases, lighting, and various other products were later characterized by the Art Nouveau style.
The entire leaf of this folding fan is illustrated with precise figures of Rococo period courtiers relaxing in a garden. The ivory sticks are decorated with elaborate open-work and silver and gold decoration. This fan provides proof of the high quality of craftwork in the period.
Traditional Chinese round fans were introduced to ancient Japan, and folding fans were produced in Japan by tying wooden slats together. Foldable fans with a sheet of paper on one side were then introduced to China from Japan at the end of the Heian period (the twelfth century). They triggered the emergence of Chinese fans with sheets of paper on both sides of the fan, which was made of sandalwood or ivory decorated with gold and silver. It was around the 15th or 16th century that fans were introduced to the West through trading between Europe and Oriental countries. Manufacturing of fans in Europe started in the 17th century, mainly in Paris, and spread throughout Europe in the 18th century.
Elegant at-home wear was an essential part of an upper class wardrobe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The tea gown, a structured and boned one-piece dress, was the first manifestation of a trend toward more comfortable attire for wearing in the presence of one’s intimates. This ensemble, while elaborate, is significantly less restricting than a tea gown, yet, by the teens, was considered modest enough to be seen in.