Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ooh La La, La Belle Assemblée!

Now this is quite the light summer frock! May I present to you the Kensington Garden Fashionable Promenade Dress, courtesy of the July 1, 1811 edition of La Belle Assemblée?

There’s a great deal going on here, so let’s see what the description says...

“A round robe of white jaconot muslin, with a bodice of violet sarsnet, trimmed with rich silk Brandenburgs of Austrian green, a half pelisse of fine transparent muslin, with Bishop’s sleeves, fancifully tied with a green ribband. A Hymen hat of purple brocaded ribband and lace, ornamented with a green military plume; a Chinese parasol of purple sarsnet, shot with green; gloves and shoes of York tan.”

Well. The first thing that I noticed about this dress is the waistline: it falls more or less at the natural waist, which is unusual...but one thing I love about the clothes from these years is that they weren’t as strict as, say, the 1820s would be in terms of line and structure—so there was some room for creativity. The dark violet bodice contrasting with the soft white muslin of the skirt and half pelisse makes a striking statement; I wish it was possible to see how long the sleeves were under that pelisse. The frogging and tassels crisscrossing the bodice are striking as well, and rather emphasize the bust.

I don’t think I’ve run across a half pelisse before: it’s almost like an open cardigan, and seems to end in fanciful points. The sleeves tied with ribbon down the length of the arm is a style that will persist on and off now through the 1820s, until the enormous sleeves of the 1830s will make such a look impossible.

The hat is curious, I thought. The drawing is a little awkwardly done so it’s difficult to see exactly what is going on here; it looks rather like a box perched on the back of her head, but the green plume over the top of the forehead is quite dashing. And since this is a promenade costume, note the quizzing glass: one must see as well as being seen!

What do you think? Would you wear this on your next jaunt to Kensington Gardens?

No comments: