In my current workplace incarnation , I am designing opera costumes for a Gilbert and Sullivan production. As we have set in in the 1890s, and I have been living with the designs since Feb, and will be until the end of the summer, I am feeling rather submersed in leg o‘ mutton sleeves, melon puffs, and tulip and bell skirts. Note to self: see how many names for styles are food related ………..
Fortunately, it’s a wonderful period. And it follows the Bustle Fiesta chronologically, so this blog entry is timely. Actually, I find it a logical decade, even in it’s oddness. The first few years, it’s bustle dresses without bustles and over skirts. A little staid, but after the 1880s, it makes sense. Then the mid 1890s with those sleeves and major gored and circular skirts - one of the odder, yet youthfully appealing lines. And wonderfully comic for stage. And at last, the incredibly graceful late 1890s - long lines and very elegant.
My personal theory is that it works for stage and film, because it’s a decade that is far enough in the past that it’s Romantic and Period, but still familiar to us from photos of our grandparents and great grandparents.
I do believe I just gave my age away.
Great-Grandparents & their children, ca 1898
1890s Chantilly Lace over Mauve Satin Gown from our archives