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Silk robe

with wasp waist
 
 

Period: around 1880

This dress with wasp waist was crafted for the Living History event 'Der Kaiser kommt' [The Emporer's visit], more precisely for the actress of the Empress Augusta.

During design and documentation step we quickly settled for an expressive, i.e. broad striped, silk fabric. The subsequent material procurement from all over the globe took more than half a year. We eventually found a very sophisticated silk taffeta with chatoyant stripes, which depending on incidence of light offers an interesting play of colors. That way we could neatly avoid the risk of the fabric appearing too striking with its red-white color combination.

Striped patterns of all widths – by all means sometimes also broader than the used pattern here ¬– were very in vogue back then. On the one hand they emphasized the cut in a very interesting way. On the other hand they lend vibrancy and elegance without too much garnish. All pieces of this dress were crafted after original cuts; tops were reinforced with horsehair padding and furnished with coil springs.

 


The skirt can be worn with both a day and evening top as it was customary for bustle and wasp waist fashion.
Day dresses from this epoch are still buttoned to the neck and with long sleeves. The cut of our creation is based on strict symmetry while garnish was intentionally applied very sparingly. Instead we mostly worked with different stripe directions:

Accordingly we used a skewed cut for the laterals of the top, playfully applied vertical and horizontal stripes of different gatherings to the skirt, whereas the underskirt's dense and thick flounces make the stripes appear to be smaller than they are.

To contrast the shimmer of the silk we chose dim dark red cotton velvet. Both collar and ruffs of the day dress are edged with this contrasting fabric. We further use hand-covered buttons as additional design element.

This velvet was also used for the skirt where it emphasizes the decurrent, i.e. downward extending, hemline at the back, which was already applied to the top. The skirt itself consists of six tiers and one additional underskirt made of cotton, of which however only the pleated flounces remain visible. Because of the enormous amounts of material required for dresses from that time, we decided to use less expensive materials for parts not visible to the eye.



Only adornments are a jabot and a gold leaf brooch – both originals from that time.

Similarly we refrained from using too much garnish for the evening dress. We used velvet for the front and the rear central parts of the jacket to create a more festive impression. A glamorous rose was crafted from the same velvet. Furthermore we ornamented the square neckline, distinctive of this epoch, and the ruffs of the 3/4 length sleeves with original tulle lace of the late 19th century. The dress fastens up with hooks and eyes; the hand-covered velvet buttons are just for decoration.
The evening dress also comes with a button-on train.

The green-striped dress with wasp waist was part of the design process and was also used for the first fittings.
 
Price category: K