Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Recent Acquisitions: Bathing Place Assembly Ball Dress

Now, I ask you, dear NineteenTeen readers: is this print not perfectly wonderful?

I’m not absolutely certain of the date of this marvelous “Bathing Place Assembly Ball Dress” print from La Belle Assemblée. One source lists it as being from January 1813...but would anyone really be interested in “bathing place” attire in winter? On the other hand, the placement of description of the dress at the top of the plate is in keeping with other La Belle Assemblée prints from 1809-1810, so I’m going to go with August or September of one of those years.

It shows a young woman strategically posed before a full-length mirror so that the viewer very conveniently gets a look at the back of this delightful dress. I can’t begin to guess the materials used, but the style gives more than a passing nod to drapery techniques—the ribbon drawing up the overskirt and the peplum-like decorations  in back make me think of custom window treatments. Note the tops of the sleeves—strips of the green fabric, woven in a lattice—and the frill of lace extending all around the neckline, and the little lion’s head belt buckle.

And her hat! It’s a delightful cross between a Nelson bicorne and a Carmen Miranda head-dress and utterly made of win. Notice too how her hair is arranged, with a braid across the forehead ending in a fetching little curl!

We’ve seen another “bathing place” costume recently—the evening dress that was actually a walking dress, also from La Belle Assemblée. I’ve yet to discern what it is that separates an everyday ball dress (if there is such a thing!) from a Bathing Place ball dress. Perhaps a touch more informality than one might expect in a London ball dress?

And speaking of bathing places (but not ball dresses), my Cape Cod-set contemporary fantasy, Skin Deep, is on sale for 99¢ now through next Friday, after which the price will be going to $4.99—so now’s your chance! You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, theApple iBookstore, and Kobo. Happy reading!

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