Met Gala 2022
So Met Gala was in the middle of the night for me (started around 2 am my time), which is why I'm giving my thought on the outfits now. I'm not interested in celebrity fashion and not very interested in contemporary fashion in general, but since it was Gilded Glamour themed, I was curious to see what they came up with. Gilded Age or the Late Victorian Era, 1870-1900, but in US, is one of my favorite fashion periods.
I'll be judging how well they adapted the theme, how interesting take they have on it and how pretty it looks like in my opinion. As expected it was overall pretty disappointing. So so many are way of theme, some just clearly skipped it entirely.
I'll do highlights, there's too many to comment everything individually. I'll start with my favorites, but in no particular order and it'll be just downhill from there.
This outfit is so goddamn stunning. Firstly undergarment look is always excellent choice. Then the silhouette is impeccable 1880s second bustle era silhouette. I love that it's in soft colors, reminding of mostly white undergarments. The hair is also perfect, clearly 1880s inspired, but a little more punk-like, which is a great touch. Necklace also is perfect and references the highly fashionable black silk chokers of the time. It's also a very nice and sharp contrast to the dress.
I absolutely adore the dressing gown. It's very clearly referencing tea gowns that became by the 1890s very fashionable and more casual reception dresses. The burgundy red velvet is gorgeous and I adore the long sleeves. Unfortunately the jumpsuit under it is just ugly. It's fine when she has the dressing gown, but damn it looks terrible alone. I actually kinda like how it's texture contrasts with the velvet.
This is one proper 1890s inspired gown. The silhouette is basically perfect. The fabric is gorgeous. Thick silk satin gives the dress enough body and substance. I love the contrasting soft pink and harsh black. The cape thing with the dramatic trail really tops it. I actually like the weirdly applied feathers. I think they make it fun. My complaint is that feathers weren't a fashion item at the time. I also love her makeup, it fits perfectly with the outfit, but the hair is fairly disappointing.
Quannah Chasinghorse is serving the looks yet again! She is absolutely gorgeous. The light turquoise really fits her. In an interview she told, she designed her jewelry with Native jewelry makers, who made them from traditional natural materials. I saw some people say she wasn't on theme and other's she shouldn't be expected to be on theme, when it's colonizer fashion glamour, and I agree with the latter point. I do think she was on theme though. I think her necklace references in shape the elaborate late Victorian chockers royalty would use and her dress references tea gowns, especially the Aesthetic kind. Tea gowns emerged from Aesthetic dress, a counter culture Victorian fashion, and became mainstream in 1890s. But Aesthetic movement, while some of it's styles were popularized in mainstream, was still going strong in 1890s. Their dresses were often flowy and rejected the highly structured and fitted silhouette.
I adore this cloak!! The embroidery is gorgeous, it's big, dramatic and the SLEEVES! The sleeves have drama! It's just perfect. It's heavy enough so it moves and drapes beautifully. Exactly this type of nature themed embroidery is very popular in 1890s gowns. I'm a little unsure of the dress though. I like that it's structure, but it has a bit more Baroque style than Victorian. Also the cut in the middle makes it look a little weird to me. Her necklace and styling are on point though. I like her open natural hair with the dressing gown type cloak and I like the detail of the shaped hair on top, even if it's very 1910s and very much out of Gilded Age.
Since the image limit is what it is, I'll continue with more of my faves in a reblog. The full post is here.
Fantasy Wardrobe: Russian Court Gowns
Court gowns are the official dress of Russian noble women at court. They were adopted in the 1830s during the reign of Nicholas I who sought to reinstate traditional Russian values and tastes. When other courts adopted more contemporary silhouettes, the Russian Court kept them going until the fall of the Empire in 1917.
The gowns had practicular styles which marked rank and marital status. The length of the train, the materials and the colour of the gown determined rank of the lady wearing it.
The gowns of cloth of gold and cloth of silver were reserved for the Empress and the daughters of the Emperor, the Grand Duchesses but if the Empress wore cloth of gold on an occasion, the Grand Duchesses were permitted only to wear cloth of silver but Empress's usually preferred cloth of silver so most the Grand Duchesses wore it at their weddings. On other events, they wore velvet gowns in whatever colour they liked.
Attendants to the Imperial family wore court gowns red and green. The Chief Stewardess of the Household wore a green velvet court gown embroidered in gold, with a train. The Ladies-in-waiting wore green velvet with shorter trains than the Chief Stewardess. The Maids of Honor of the Bedchamber, unmarried noble women, wore the same gowns, but in crimson velvet and covered their bare shoulders which where displayed by married women.
With the court gown, different ranks of court ladies were permitted to wear insignia, mainly portraits the Empresses in diamonds hung on coloured ribbons on their right breast, decorated with diamonds on the right side of the breast, if they had been so honored by the Empress. These ladies were the Dames-a-portrait.
The maids-of-honor wore "chiffres" which were crowned monograms of the woman they served (the Empresses or Grand Duchess) hung on a St. Andrew's blue ribbon on their left breast.
The highest ranking women wore the Order of St. Catherine and the sash, and badge of the same order.
And no Russian court gown could be without its most important staple, the Kokoshnik, the traditional diadem-like headdress. The female members of the Imperial family were jewel-studded velvet while their attendants wore velvet trimmed in pearls. Tulle veils were worn by married ladies attached to the kokoshnik. However, in later years, the court ladies began to wear tiaras in the kokoshnik shape. These became all the fashion in Europe and the likes of Cartier, Boucheron and Chaumet flooded the European courts with fantastic tributes to the headdress.
Hey! I love your blog!
I had a little question, if you don't mind: what kind of corsets would a lady would've worn while playing sports or doing stuff that would require her to bend or smth. I know corsets aren't the torturous devices they're made out to be but from what I do know, they probably wouldn't be the best option for when you need to be physically active.
Did they just skip wearing the corsets? Were there special garments that could replace it? Or were there special corsets made for such purposes?
Thank you, I really appreciate it! And thank you for the question, I'll never get tired of talking about corsets :D I will apologize in advance since I could answer quickly and say they had special corsets for sports, but I will go on a little tangent about all the different kind of corsets since there's more to it.
A little summary of different kinds of corsets
There were indeed a wide variety of corsets and most of themwere suitable for physical activities (even in late Victorian Era). I couldn't include everything here, but I'll highlight those I think are relevant for the discussion.
Corset developed out of stays in the early Victorian Era (somewhere around 1840s). Corset is just a different terminology for the supporting undergarment and doesn't really differ that much from stays in principle. Regency stays that were predecessors to corset were very much not restrictive. They rarely had any boning except in the front to keep the boobs separate and the stays from wrinkling. Regency fashion by nature concealed waistline and showed of boobs so the stays were very much only focused on that. During the Victorian era more boning was introduced to the now-corsets as the fashion started to emphasize the waistline. As the Victorian Era progressed forward the fashionable corset started to become more shapely with heavier and more restrictive boning. However this was only for the corset used with fashion items, things a rich fashionable young lady would wear for outings. Everyone wore corsets, the working class women who did physical labor too. Therefore by the late Victorian Era corsets started to diverge creating increasingly large variety.
So boning is the most well known way to give shape to a corset. Steel bones are the most restrictive ones, but they were usually only used in the front closure and thin steel bones often next to lacing eyelets to give them strength. Baleen was most often used for boning. It's made out of the same tissue as finger nails, so it's very bendable and soft. The main way Victorian corsets gained their strong shapes was the ingeniously engineered panels that when put together created a 3D shape. Softer kind of structure than boning was achieved with cording and even quilting.
Fashionable upper class corset
So lets look at some corsets! Let's start with the peak fashion. This is a silk corset from 1884. On top of the steel bones of the closure it has at least two steel bones on the sides and heavy boning otherwise too. The wide bones are definitely steel and the thinner are probably steel too, but they could also be baleen. This corset was definitely used to show of the latest fashion in high society gatherings and not for too much bending.
The people who wore this were the same type of fashionable people who might tight-lace for high society events and this corset would be excellent for that purpose. Tight-lacing is what it sounds, the practice of lacing tightly the corset to reduce the waist measurements. It would be uncomfortable and in long term could have health effects. Most people didn't do it for long periods though, why would they when they weren't even wearing the presentable high fashions most of the day.
Working class corset
But as said everyone wore corsets (even men but that is a story for another post) and that includes housemaids, which was one of the most physically demanding positions for women. Symington's Pretty Housemaid corset from 1890s was made for that purpose.
Symington's corset company, which was created around 1850s, was one of the first clothing companies to adopt the sewing machine for mass production, making their corsets cheap and easily available. By the end of Victorian Era they were the leading corset makers. They had a wide variety of corsets for "normal" people, working class and middle class people, so their products show well what most people wore. Pretty Housemaid corset was marketed for domestic servants and it was marketed as cheap and strong. Corset actually supports back and helps lift heavy things, especially this corset with it's raised back, which is great for a servant. The Pretty Housemaid has only very few baleen bones (only the front has steel bone) most of them ending at waistline, and the rest is just cording. This all makes it very bendable but still supporting so great for hard physical labor.
Another example of 1890s Symington corset is this corset with no boning (except front closure) and only cording and (interestingly) quilting.
Most people wore corsets somewhere between these and the first example. Not all upper class people wore steel boning, baleen was for them the norm too. But those who did also didn't wear that all the time. Morning corset was very lightly boned corset that was wrapped around the body instead of laced. It didn't shape the body at all and only gave some bust support and a bit of the fashionable silhouette. Here's an illustration of it from 1890s. It was used by upper class women inside home usually during long mornings while getting ready for the day and could be used when receiving close friends and family in the midday/afternoon.
Ribbon corset was very lightly boned corset made out of ribbons instead of fabric. It was an under-bust corset and similarly to morning corset it's barely shaping. Apparently it started as a night corset. You might wonder why would someone need a corset during the night, and it would be the high fashion ladies who wanted to prevent themselves from getting bloated during the night so they would be able to reduce their waistline without some time for adjusting first. It was used similarly to morning corset too and became even more popular in the Edwardian Era. Ribbon corset made out of cotton tape were also used for sports (at least in Edwardian Era).
In the late Victorian Era health and exercise were getting more popular and fashionable, as were women's rights. Working class women had always of course gotten their excercise from physical labor, but it became popular for upper class women to be athletic. For example upper class women started cycling, ice-skating, mountain climbing and playing tennis and golf. This change has happening at the same time as the Dress Reform Movement came to existence. They aimed to reform the restrictive beauty and fashion ideals of the time. They promoted very successfully sports clothing for women. It was also a backlash to the increasingly boned fashionable corset. This backlash was based partly on the very righteous dissatisfaction with the extremely high beauty standards for women, but also on pseudoscience and men whining women being too vain according to them.
There were men writing about how corsets will squeeze the internal organs and change their position and shape permanently based on literally vibes alone. It was mixed with fair concerns about tight lacing, though very much blowed out of proportions. This is where the myth of corsets being torture devices survives to this day. So many of the sympathizers of the movement started developing their own suggestion for the reformed corset.
Here's an example of a woolen health corset. With the focus on health there was also a ton of pseudoscience about it (as there is today). One of the claims was that using wool against skin was healthy. And there is a fraction of truth to it. Wool is anti-bacterial, but the claim was that it was healthy as oppposed to cotton and linen. Linen, which is also anti-bacterial. The corset itself is very lightly structured and looks very soft.
The Edwardian corset was actually born out of the same ideas. The S-bend corset, or straight front corsets as they called it, was supposedly a health corset. I don't really know what they though made it healthier and I would guess it's based on as much scientific rigor as the claims about the health risks of the previous corsets.
Promoting sports corsets was also a part of the Dress Reform Movement. Sports corsets really became a thing in 1890s. Here's an example of one. It's not shaping and merely supporting. It barely has any boning, if at all, leaning on cording instead.
Sports corsets never really reached a wide use. They were a kind of novelty and trend. Basically any corset without steel boning was suitable for a lot of physical activities and so only rich people who had the extra money to buy corsets for every use and even used the heavily steel boned ones really even bought the sports corsets. Of course some physical activities (like housemaid duties) would need more bending room than a typical middle/upper class baleen boned corset would allow.
Several modern dress historians and historical dress enthusiasts have tested out their reproduction corsets for various physical activities and recorded them. Here's a video where Bernadette Banner tests out Victorian exercise routine with her 1890s corset. And here's another where Karolina Zebrowska wears full Edwardian attire, including corset, for bouldering. The tl;dr is that both were pretty successful experiments.