Thursday, 30 January 2014

Velvet - com'era dov'era a Venezia

Not a real post, and as it's in Italian this might a bit overwhelming, but the technique how Velvet is woven on a 18th century loom is shown.
The weaver explains that she inserts fine iron rods (about 4), and then cuts them out again with a tool similar to a razor-blade with handle, to open the velvet "standing" threads. This happens nearly at the end of the video. It is difficult to have access to Bevilacqua's factories, but if you're once in Venice, and they offer a day of "open manufactury" - pay them a visit. It is very impressive, not just by the beauty of the fabric, but also to see and hear the noise, the cramped working conditions (still today) - and the value of these fabrics back then explains itself in a much more evident and likely way.

P.S.: If you ask yourself "What does the title say in plain language" and why I chose to use it:
"Com'era dov'era" is a modern Venetian bonmot, what translates roughly into "As it was, so (it shall be) again" - and was used by Venetian politicians to propagate the rebuilding of the Campanile di San Marco back in 1903 (it collapsed in 1902, what you see today is the rebuilt version what was inaugurated in 1912) and again in 1996 after the devastating fire at the Teatro la Fenice.
As Velvet and its production give me the immediate mind-picture of Venezia, so I chose it as the title of this post. And yes, I am longing to travel there, and it's again not on this year :-(

I've found yet another video, made for the Shanghai exhibition, where you can see a bit more of the Bevilacqua manufacturing premises:

Monday, 27 January 2014

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Janvier 1811 - No 5 & 6

Issue No 5, published January 25, 1811


Gravure 1118

Toque fourrée, Redingote Garnie en Chefs de Cachemire

Filled Toque, Redingote (woollen dress) decorated with ribbons of Cashmere. Have a look at her waistline - again the fashionable fringes we've heard about earlier this month.


Redingotes of black velvet, blue or purple wool, poppy-coloured merinos, with fringes or decorated with marten, pelisses of satin with large decoration of northern fur (Imported expensive fur), douillettes, 6/4 shawls with bunches (We can assume, flower bunch pattern, they start to become fashionable now) and fur capes are currently in fashion; but we don't forget the spencers, what show themselves little by little on the Terrasse des Feuillants (that's a part of the Tuileries Gardens If you have ever visited, it's the part with the trees and the restaurant) and the muffs what are much rarer than by the end of last winter.

Current models have no belly (deep pouch), as former ones; they have the same size overall, and are not larger in the middle than at the ends, the fur is neither long nor short shorn, and as of yet they are not mismatched. The capes, besides their brown detachable border-trim, sport still their trim of iridescent feathers. Many shoemakers offer lined shoes, but they are not usually worn: fur-lined brodequins (laced boots) are not more common.

Milliners employ fur only in piping, and there it's only a fur imitation, a mere silk plush. (Check Sabine (link)'s entry for January with the trend for Silk plush as fake fur in the Journal des Luxus und der Moden!)

Big capotes are still the trendy item, and have recently developed a grand fabric knot on the side, with a bunch of flowers and a spray of plumes (feathers)


Other snippets

Silk and velvet have returned to be fashionable for habits for the grand costume. Tailors have already left heavier material as cotton or wool behind, and one would think the most distinguished ones might sully their scissors if they cut into anything else than silk, gold, silver or spangled cloth. 

The wigmakers dream up their own vision of pommade, powder, hairpieces, pigeon wings. Next to them the shoemakers think about wooden heels and shoes with big buckles.
Changing fashion, bagatelle, nonsense! No-one dies, and everyone thrives!

Of Spencers and Redingotes

The two halves of humanity imitate, foppishly monkey see monkey copy, they turn in circles of taste and ideas, of the same crazes; and that's only natural: The odd part in this observation is that they rarely arrive at the same spot together.
As an example, we are sporting spencers and the ladies were in redingote; we regain the redingote, and the ladies want nothing else than spencers. 

Last year, a dandy choose to wear a puce coloured spencer on top of a green habit: The more the colours clashed, the more striking the effect was considered. A spencer was conceived to be sufficient to protect torso and arms from cold, while not being cumbersome.
Today these reasons are not heard anymore. Spencers have completely fallen out of favour, and their use limits itself to small people, who's feeble imagination is curbed by their need to economise. Only redingotes paint a decent picture, only they are worn on top a fresh habit (suit), and last but not least, they conserve the feeling what should always be a young dashing man's appearance. 

Last year, a beauty told her husband: as soon as it only drizzles a little, the streets become terrible. Walk out on foot, equals a lost dress, but with a wool redingote, you are able to walk about all day long; when coming home a little time and a little brushing, you're as presentable now as when leaving. These advantages jumps to reason, and the husband would better not think to counter such arguments; therefor the tailor (le tailleur) is called in, the measures taken, and Madame will have her redingote.

Today it's a different tune altogether. A woollen redingote! God, is this a heavy garment! It oppresses me, once it's drenched with rain, it never dries. It shrinks, it singes when ironed, it gets dirty. It has all possible inconveniences imaginable! A redingote! Oh heavens! Everyone has it, and not one wants it any more. How could a woman possibly fitted out like that? When she has black laced boots, a beaver hat, some might mistake her for a man. This fashion does not suit a real woman at all. My friend, my darling, I respect myself too much, I respect you too much to keep up an appearance what must displease you. There's something much better fitting to our sex, and you yourself pressed me to adopt it. Look, look at my cousin, how she's graceful. What a figure! A white and light dress, a velvet spencer with a fraise (Chemisette-Ruffs are called "Fraise" - it's also the word for strawberry. In this case it's a white ruff, not a red delicious summer fruit), a toque heightened with a plume - that's how one should dress! And on the morrow, the seamstress (Couturière - note the difference: For the redingote the tailleur/Tailor was summoned) and the milliner have both gained an article with a shocking bill to be paid by the husband.

(The signature "Rôdeur" roughly translates as "vagabond". Clearly someone who would like his writing to be assimilated with someone who sees a lot, says what he thinks and gives not a second thought, as he'd be gone the day after… We will read more of his delicious epistles in later issues)

A man who unites in himself some goodwill as well as a very distinguished taste sent us the following note to share: The wigs by M Lambert, wigmaker/coiffeur at Rue de la Monnoie 30, adapt the head's shape to perfection, and as precisely defining the faces shape are undistinguishable from real hair (=ones own grown hair, not bought hair), his wigs don't slide off and are light yet solid.

No 6, published January 31, 1811


Plate 1119

Capote de Velours. Redingote de Velours, à Capuchon

Velvet Capote (soft hat), Velvet Redingote with hood


Some very cold days brought us a display of overcoats (orig. par-dessus, but they look as what we modern costumers would call "pelisse" or "redingote") of gros vert (some kind of artichoke, pale green) and vert pré (fresh spring green), embellished with marten fur. The headgear is, as usually very big capotes, mostly trimmed with tulle and decorated with a big bow. This bow has two remarkable features. Not only is it nicer pleated than a couple of days ago, but the ends are tied again, in a way to form two layers. The big oblong buckle is then fixed on the centre of the bow. One should also mention that more black capotes are worn than we're used to see, in velvet and in repp. 
For the big dress (grand parure = Sunday's best / Opera / Diva Style) velvet flowers, in the hair continue to be our fashion favourites. The headdress becomes more elaborate, turbans of lamé tulle and mousseline are coming. 
Saturdays, the uniform of the ice-skaters at the Bassin de la Villette consisted of a scarlet jacket, trimmed with astrakan (short shorn sheepskin) at collar and revers, with three frogged buttons across the breast. 
The most elegant dominos for masked balls are made of white or rose (pale pink) coloured satin instead of taffeta, plain and without decoration.

Other snippets

Oh, good day my dear woman, you're surely bringing me a hat? - What, madame, a hat? I bring you several for you to choose from. Look at this one, it's a modern casque as they have not been made yet. And look at this one, simple and without fuss, but certainly not without it's merit, as it suggests an elegant negligence: It's a smaller variation of a capote, what my husband invented not eight days ago, we still have boxes filled with decorated toques and morning hats. - Not at all, my dear friend, you misunderstood my intentions: I don't want a hat what one can see everywhere around. - But could you tell me at least your taste? Does Madame prefer to have her face hidden or exposed? Would Madame like satin or velvet, flowers or plumes? - I don't anything of the sort. I want that my hat has no decided form, neither round or pointed, neither single-couloured, neither patterned, it shouldn't look like anything, in one word, to avoid to look like everyone's; Meanwhile everyone, this translates into most of the ladies, have adopted this kind of hat: Or otherwise, how can we attempt to describe the way our ladies dress their heads? It's sufficient to state what you have, velvet or satin with the exception of cashmere, wrap it somehow around your head, and the more your headdress is odd, the more it is today's must be look.

A diamond parure (set of matching jewellery in this case) is without a doubt the most beautiful gift a husband could present to his wife, but one's mistaken to believe, that the gift of this parure relieves the husband of making other gifts of a similar nature. "What should I wear?" asks a lady, dressing for a ball. "That's easy", replies her husband, "your diamond parure." "Always diamonds", replies the lady, "must it be that me and my parure are understood as a single unit? As soon someone sees my diamonds, one says - Oh look, it's Madame … - this tires me, I want an emerald parure. The poor husband lays out for the emeralds, the emeralds soon follow the path of the diamonds. Topazes, rubies and saphires need to be bought. A fortnight already Madame sights after garnets, so Monsieurs needs to acquire them quickly, and watches his other half exchanging her saphires, her topazes, her rubies, even her diamonds for a garnet necklace.

A ladies tailor, called Bernard, recently published in Dresden a theory on the artful cut, illustrated with plates.

(Check out Sabine's site - she dedicated quite a some time already to Bernhard

The production of Tulle

Tulle is a net imitating lace, what is made on adjusted knitting frames. Mister Genton produced the first samples a bit over 30 years ago. In 1791 Mssrs Jolivet and Cochet both from Lyons obtain a inventors patent for the production method of tulle. Mr Galino and others have also occupied themselves with much success.

But as lace and blondes de soies are made in France with an astonishing level of perfection to a moderate price, tulle doesn't represent a grand advantage.

This differs quite a lot in England, where the population is less considerable. The English producers need to help themselves with an invention what applies to their machines, and what offers them the merchandise what they were lacking (Note: Due to limited imports of French lace)

That is where the results stems from, the further development of Tulle by the English, adding embroidery they imitate our needle embroidery, but quickly this fashionable article (tulle-lace) is introduced to France, our producers caught up on their advances, having made Tulle to perfection and the talents of our embroiderers joined the success of these (French) producers in such a way to push an English product off the market what had already steeped France deeply.

During the 1806 exposition, where Mr Bonard father from Lyon won a medal, he promised to outdo the English in the production of tulle: He held true to his word. He overcame great many obstacles to obtain this goal, one of the biggest challenges was the good constructions of the looms, the choosing and preparing of the silk, no thing suffered neglect by his side when obtaining the best materials, be it the white or off-white, or the thinness and lightness of the thread . For these excellence results required him to travel frequently into the silk producing counties, correcting the spinning, thus creating the best quality material to meet his demands.

The production of tulle, as the one Mr Bonard is particularly involved with, is one of the branches in manufacturing with a high add-on-value onto the merchandise. One square meter of this fabric only requires silk valuing 50 centimes, the value of the tissue itself is 24 fr. The same kind of fabric, when imported from England can cost up to 60 fr.

(Note: This article puts the production value of the tulle centerstage: The cheaper (English) tulle-lace appears to be pushing the needle-lace out of favour, and then the higher quality tulle lace pushing the English import aside, with lower costs and higher quality. There is also a lot of pride into the finer product, the craftsmanship and the quality control some producers obliged themselves to. Also underlining is the monetary and economic side of fashion. It's always money, and what a good product in comparison to it's production cost tulle fabric is.

For comparison for us modern readers: the Journal des Dames would cost you 36 fr per year. The income of an artisan is stated in another article as 1200 p.a. - 100 francs a month to feed a family. I need to check the average income, because it appears to be low as that, so don't take this information as written in stone. But the Journal des Dames is similar to a modern fashion magazine. Few of us can actually afford what's shown there, but we can always wear a trickled down and more economical approach of the style)

Read up what occupied readers in Germany & England in the same month:
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository". (I will link directly to their monthly entries once they are up)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Journal des Dames et des Modes, Janvier 1811 - No 3 & 4

Issue No 3, published on January 15, 1811 
No 1113 / Source:
Gravure 1113
Toque de Velours, à la Henri 4. Par-dessus, fourrée en hermine
Velvet Toque à la Henry IV, Overcoat lined in hermine. (The word "par-dessus" doesn't mean coat, but the "worn over it all")

No 1114 / Source:
Gravure 1114
1, Casque de Velours. 2, Chapeaux de Satin, garnis en Pluche. 3, Toque de Satin et Velours. 4, Capotes de Velours. 5, Chapeau de Satin et Velours
Casque are helmet-shaped hats, chapeaux are as a rule of thumb softer hats than capotes, and a toque is a toque. 

Velours is velvet. Satin is usually used for silk satin, but it could also be wool or cotton, though they would be rather described as croisé. Satin is a weave, it's not a description of the fibre.

Both Gravures belong to the foregoing issue N2, one of the issues what is not yet available digitally. 
This week's gravures are 1115 & 1116, and are not explained in detail in this issue. 

Gravure 1115
Coeffure en Cheveux Repoussés, avec une Natte Postiche
Douillette de Levantine
Hairdo with pulled back hair and a fake braid. A soft coat of Levantine (thick  silk or silk/wool twill, originally from Levant) fabric. 
(Douillette suggests a very soft, comfortable garment)
Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Gravure 1116 
is a special treat: It's a "hair-how-to", described a bit further down by its inventor, Mr. Palette, who runs his business as a hairdresser at Rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs
Chou en Mèches. Bandeau de Coraux Hair-rosette or chignon made from multiple strands, coral-bandeau

First one added fringes to spencers, now also onto redingotes aux merinos (soft woollen redingotes), douillettes and onto velvet redingotes: Nowaday gold or silver fringes attune themselves to ball-dresses.

A long very flexible plume or, even better, a bird of paradise adorns toques. A velvet toque is usually ponceau (Poppy-read). Nearly all satin toques are white. It's also a white satin ribbon what dressmakers pair with blonde lace (silk lace) to compose a ball dresses bodice. Some hairdressers employ flowers where, instead of batiste velvet took its place.

Speaking of velvet, it is useful to mention that some bandeau (ribbons) used for the hairdo with hair (Coëffure en cheveux) are sprinkled with steel-spangles.

Other interesting snippets 
On January 15 the magasin de mode of Madame Amette currently located at 4,  Rue de l'Echelle moves to Rue Saint-Honoré no 338, between Place Vendôme and rue Neuve-des-Jacobins. (Comment by me: That's still a prime address for any fashion related enterprise today)

In our issue appearing on January 20, we shall include instructions on how to compose the hairdo shown on plate no 1116, of what Monsieur Palette, Hairdresser in rue Neuve-des-Petits-Champs is the composer.

Issue No 4, published on January 20, 1811

Gravure 1117
Ball dress. Demonstrating the Pas du Shall.
Please note the fringe on her dress, what have been discussed in issue No 3. In regard of the Pas du Schall I have to refer you to my other Blog, Terpsichore, where this topic will be discussed in a short while, though I am still gathering more information about it.


At all the milliners you will see pink, white, yellow, but don't let yourself be fooled by these sights. Yellow looses it's merit, white and pink are following. Ask for grey, take grey.

However a small demi-parure hat in white satin, what shows under it's bent rim a garland of flowers is not to be disdained. (Note: Parure is not just used for jewellery, most of you would combine "Parure" with "set of necklace, bracelets, brooch, earrings and tiara" - but it means nothing else than "finery" - so demi-parure is a semi-ornamented outfit. Might translate into "Casual Elegant, but not yet red-carpet" in modern terms)

For the rest, address yourself to your hairdressers, they are called upon daily. Not only do they know, but they also invent this winter's fashion. One of them will tell you, that a net shall hide a part of the hair-rosette (bun), therefore the look needs two bandeau of blue velvet. The other opts that straight hair, instead of a comb (tiara) a white flower garland ought to be placed.

But lets not forget that this space here is destined for the explanation of Plate 1116.

Picture by C. Barreto - Barreto-Lancaster Private Collection

Gravure 1116 (Published in No3, you don't see double)
Chou en Mèches. Bandeau de Coraux

Hair-rosette made from strands, coral-bandeau
To arrange this up-do, M Palette, who invented it, knots the hair rather too high than too low. If they are 8 pouce long (1 pouce = approx 1 inch) he divides them into four equal parts, and crosses and knots these strands with a ribbon-like knot, what he secures with a pin.
He first takes as much hair with the pin what is required to secure it, and then hides the pin between the strands. The fingertips help him more here than his eyes to make this task easy, he reveals to us. It's the thumb what holds the loose strand, and only withdraws it when the pin takes it's place to hold the strand in place. The pin is directed by the finger, what retreats the more the pin dives into the knot of hair. He uses the same technique for each loose strand. The Chou may be composed of five, six, seven or eight parts, up to taste, though one egresses through the other.

The bandeau is made of coral seed-pearls, larger in the middle than at the edges.

Other interesting snippets

The man who wears his garrick in the streets, is either travelling merchant, or a dandy of the café Hardi. The one who wears it either up front or at the back of a carriage is nothing else than a footman or a coachman; but the man who has quite some problems getting into the carriage with his heavy and long garrick - now that's a distinguished gentleman. A man as he ought to be.

Some time ago, we've seen these cheap little pieces of jewellery displayed only on fob-chains of the young, but these past months we've also seen them around ladies necks. Once it's a small locket in the shape of a basque-drum, or a golden book representing tablets, a hieroglyph of fortune's wheel, decorated with pierre parlantes (where the first cipher of the names of the stones give a word) or - and this is the most extraordinary and most fashionable one - a small golden dagger, what would - without a doubt - give most of our ladies the resemblance of Lucretia, and stands as a symbol of their virtue. (Don't think Borgia here, it's the Roman story, of the virtuous Lucretia, who preferred to kill herself than to live in shame)

There were many outcries against the corset (the original text reads corset, see for yourself on page 26), and our ladies did not only abandon their corsets, but also their gowns, without neck-kerchief, they went nearly in their smock. Of this extreme in giving up garments, the ladies fell back into another.

Not only do they lace, and enclose themselves with busk and whalebone as in past times, but today's corsets are bigger (higher) and heavier than those earlier ones. A current corset doesn't only compress the stomach, the waist and the shoulders, but it surrounds and compresses the bust in a way, that a woman wrapped in such a way can barely move.

Oh, how these grand ladies are envied their brilliant finery! They can't laugh, or eat, not bend or turn. What do I say - they can barely breath. The slightest sight breaks the cord, and will bring their finery in disorder. Happy are the good ladies, the family mothers, who live quietly in their house, they receive not compliments of some toadies, but the love of their children, and they live, head, ésprit and body in liberty with a rested consciousness.

(Now - please don't take these lines too serious. Le Centyeux usually signs rather poisonous little epistles, mostly mocking, sometimes hurting. I am happy I am not a subject of his scrutiny or his pen ;-) )

Read up what occupied readers in Germany & England in the same month:
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository". (I will link directly to their monthly entries once they are up)

A Journal Journey into the Year 1811 - Introduction

Let me introduce you to our project, a travel back into the year 1811.
Sabine is taking a closer look into the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", Natalie tackles "La Belle Assemblée", Maggie devotes her time to "Ackermann's Repository", and I leave through the "Journal des Dames et des Modes".

Each of us will read, transcribe, translate her journal, and then it's up to us to pick up the quill and start writing.

It is as much a discovery journey for us, as it is for you, to read and compare the leading fashion magazines of their time, month by month.

Nearly everyone of us has come across the "Journal des Dames et des Modes" - though most of us nickname it "Costume Parisien", based on the titles of the fashion plates. But the Journal des Dames et des Modes is much more than just a fashion magazine. It includes theatre-critics, satirical writing, travel reports, fashiontrends and the famous plates. Pierre Le Mésangère, the publisher followed normally a publication rhythm of every 5 days, sometimes it's a tad shorter, sometimes a bit delayed.

For the year 1811 the BNF - the Bibliothèque National de France has 56 issues digitalised. Sadly not all of them, and not everything what has been digitalised has all it's pages. I will mention in the title the issues included in this month. If the database of the BNF will be updated with further issues, these will be included in time.

I will mostly concentrate on fashion, but you will also see transcriptions of other passages, of satirical pieces, references to dance and healthcare. The tags will help you navigate if you look for something particular.