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two-piece Victorian gown

#2490 $1,200   Sold

Silk taffeta two-piece day gown, c.1868

Post-Civil War styles were evolving from the full skirted cage crinoline to the bustle shape. Here is an exemplar of the new style. While still full, the skirt is cut longer in back, forming a train and a mini-bustle. The pagoda sleeves and fringe trim are carried over from the early 1860s.

I love the eye catching two-tone design of vibrant bleu de France and delicate Cambridge "blue." The graphic design and harmonious hues create a striking display. Invented in the 1860s, bleu de France (aka bleu de Paris), was one of the first aniline dyes and became a big hit in the burgeoning couture industry.

The bodice is boned and lined with ivory cotton. The sleeves have interior beige lace ruffles. The neckline is trimmed with pleated net. An adorable purse is attached to the skirt. Both pieces are embellished with elaborate ruched fabric and silk fringe trim.

The gown is almost totally original. The center-back bodice lacings are missing—common cord was used in the photographs. Accurate lacing replicas can be purchased from a reproduction corset company.

To Victorian eyes, the new deeply saturated aniline dyes carried an electric excitement vs. age old natural dyes. The vivid color of our Paris blue brings to mind the opening scene in Godard's 1963 film Contempt, which retells The Odyssey. In the film within a film, legendary directory Fritz Lang (playing himself) uses color to evoke the ancient Greek world view.

In the foreground are statues of the Greek gods—a dazzling alabaster white. As Fritz Lang talks, the camera pans across the the faces of the statues. What a shock of recognition when we see their eyes are colored an intense royal blue as they were 2500 years ago on the Parthenon.

The condition is very good. The bodice is perfect other than the missing laces. In the skirt fabric are several splits, mostly along the hem. The fabric is stable—not shattering—and displays beautifully. This is reflected in the price. In Excellent condition, it would sell for $1700-$1800.

The bodice measures: 35" bust, 26" waist, and 15 1/2" from shoulder to waist.
The skirt measures: 25" waist and 42" center-front length.

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