The Longchamp Racecourse and Fashion Promenade

Attracting enormous crowds, by the late 1800s, the Longchamp Racecourse in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris had become one of the most fashionable public venues in France.

Spectating at the races was an immensely popular and socially prestigious pastime.

A place to see and be seen, Longchamp was like a giant stage to vaunt one’s social position.

The Races at Longchamps from the Grandstand by Giuseppe de Nittis, 1883

Attended by Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie, who sailed down the Seine River on their private yacht to catch the third race, Longchamp Racecourse opened to the public on Sunday, April 27, 1857.

Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie
Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie

And it wouldn’t only be French Royalty who loved Longchamps—King Edward VII of Great Britain attended too.

The King's carriage leaving Longchamps with French Prime Minister Loubet and British King Edward VII, 1903.
The King’s carriage leaving Longchamps with French Prime Minister Loubet and British King Edward VII, 1903.

Enclosures were reserved for aristocrats and the well-connected and ladies were required to be escorted by a gentleman in order to enter.

The Races At Longchamp In 1874 by Pierre Gavarni (1846 - 1932)
The Races At Longchamp In 1874 by Pierre Gavarni (1846 – 1932)

But grabbing the spotlight was a new class of celebrity: the demimonde.

Supported by wealthy lovers, these were women on the fringes of respectable society.

The Races at Longchamp by Jean-Louis Forain, 1891
The Races at Longchamp by Jean-Louis Forain, 1891

Arriving alone, demimondaine were forbidden access to the enclosures but were as much of a spectacle as the races themselves.

Mixing with society women, they often shared the same couturier but appeared a little more chic.

1908 Longchamp

Attending the Longchamp races as the mistress of wealthy textile heir Étienne Balsan was a young Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.

Although she didn’t quite fit the mold of a typical demimondaine, Gabrielle appeared in the loose, simple dress that would later influence an entire generation of “flappers” during the Roaring Twenties.

Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel
Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel

Paris had become the fashion capital of the world and it wasn’t long before designers realized that Longchamp was a goldmine.

Fashion houses outfitted models with their finest clothes, sending them to the races to show off the latest styles.

Ladies at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris 1908
Ladies at the Hippodrome de Longchamp, Paris 1908

Join us as we travel back in time to the Longchamp Races from 1907 to 1935—a time of elegance and flamboyance that may never be repeated.

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The Tragic Story of Princess Ka’iulani, “The Island Rose” of Hawaii

Born Victoria Ka’iulani on October 16, 1875, the Crown Princess and heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii was known throughout the world for her intelligence and determination to preserve the Hawaiian monarchy.

Named after Queen Victoria and her maternal aunt Anna Ka’iulani who died young, Princess Ka’iulani’s life, spirit, and legacy are a testament to her love of the Hawaiian people in their hour of need.

Ka ‘iu lani means “the highest point of heaven” or “the royal sacred one” in the Hawaiian language.

Kaiulani, approximately six years old seated holding hat with backdrop of Diamond Head & palm trees in a photo studio
Kaiulani, approximately six years old seated holding hat with backdrop of Diamond Head & palm trees in a photo studio
Ka'iulani's parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
Ka’iulani’s parents, c. 1870

Descended from the first cousin of Kamehameha the Great, the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Ka’iulani’s mother was known as Likelike, the sister of the last two ruling monarchs, and her father was Scottish businessman Archibald Scott Cleghorn.

A marriage across cultures does not always run smoothly and Princess Ka’iulani’s parents struggled.

Expecting to be the master of the household, Cleghorn’s staunch Victorian male chauvinism clashed with the Hawaiian nobility’s belief, regardless of gender, that they should be the ones to rule over others.

You always blame me in everything and I am getting tired of it. I will have to kill myself then you won’t have me to growl at all the time. I think we are better separated…as you don’t love me and I don’t love you so I will simply say, “God bless the good”Likelike
Ka'iulani's parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
Ka’iulani’s parents, Archibald Cleghorn and Likelike
Archibald Cleghorn (seated) with family and grandchildren. Princess Ka'iulani sits to the right of Cleghorn, c. 1885
Archibald Cleghorn (seated) with family and grandchildren. Princess Ka’iulani sits to the right of Cleghorn, c. 1885

Imperious and quick-tempered, but vivacious and well-liked, Likelike earned a reputation as a kind, gracious hostess.

When Ka’iulani was just 11 years old, Likelike fell ill and never recovered.

It is said that a large school of bright red fish—an omen of death in her family—massed close to shore and that Likelike predicted her daughter would never marry and never become Queen.

Princess Likelike in a formal portrait, taken by James J. Williams, 1880s
Princess Likelike in a formal portrait, taken by James J. Williams, 1880s

Because Princess Ka’iulani was second in line to the throne after her elderly and childless aunt, the young girl was expected to eventually become Queen.

The reigning monarchs, King Kalākaua and Queen Kapi’olani, talked with Cleghorn and the Princess about preparing her for the role with a British education.

Princess Kaiulani in 1889, age 14
Princess Kaiulani in 1889, age 14

Sent to Northamptonshire, England in 1889 at the age of 13, Ka’iulani was given a private education at Great Harrowden Hall.

Excelling in her studies of Latin, Literature, Mathematics, and History, she also took classes in French and German and lessons in tennis and cricket.

Great Harrowden hall, Northamptonshire. Credit M J Richardson
Great Harrowden hall, Northamptonshire. Credit M J Richardson

Growing up knowing the landscape painter Joseph Dwight Strong from her uncle’s court, and Isobel Strong, a lady in waiting under her mother, she showed an early talent for art and took several trips to Scotland and France to study.

'Poppies', an oil on canvas painting by Princess Ka'iulani, 1890
‘Poppies’, an oil on canvas painting by Princess Ka’iulani, 1890

Isobel was the stepdaughter of Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, of “Treasure Island” fame.

The two became good friends and he called her “the island rose” in a poem he wrote in her autograph book.

Princess Ka'iulani at 17 as she attended school at the prestigious Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire
Princess Ka’iulani at 17 as she attended school at the prestigious Great Harrowden Hall in Northamptonshire
Princess Kaʻiulani wearing a hatband bearing the name of an Orlando-class armored cruiser captained by a family friend, Sir William Wiseman HMS Immortalité
Princess Ka’iulani wearing a hatband bearing the name of an Orlando-class armored cruiser captained by a family friend, Sir William Wiseman HMS Immortalité
Kaiulani in white gown and hat, photograph by J. J. Williams
Kaiulani in white gown and hat, photograph by J. J. Williams

Moving to Brighton in 1892, it felt like a fresh start for Princess Ka’iulani who continued to study in England for the next four years, despite being told she would only be there for one.

Chaperoned and tutored by a Mrs. Rooke who set up a curriculum including German, French and English, the resort by the sea pleased the princess, renewing her enthusiasm.

Arranging for her to have an audience with Queen Victoria as part of a trip around Europe, her Hawaiin overseers had to suddenly cancel all plans in January of 1893.

In a short telegram, she learned that Hawaii had been overthrown.

‘Queen Deposed’, ‘Monarchy Abrogated’, ‘Break News to Princess’.

To honor the name bestowed by Stevenson, she had to summon the spirit of the “island rose” – its thorns as sharp as defiance, its bloom undying in the face of adversity.

Refusing to stand idly by while the home that she loved was swept from under her, she gave a statement to the English press:

Four years ago, at the request of Mr. Thurston, then a Hawaiian Cabinet Minister, I was sent away to England to be educated privately and fitted to the position which by the constitution of Hawaii I was to inherit. For all these years, I have patiently and in exile striven to fit myself for my return this year to my native country. I am now told that Mr. Thurston will be in Washington asking you to take away my flag and my throne. No one tells me even this officially. Have I done anything wrong that this wrong should be done to me and my people? I am coming to Washington to plead for my throne, my nation and my flag. Will not the great American people hear me?
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1890s
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1890s

Traveling to the United States to fight against what she saw as a terrible injustice, she gave this speech on her arrival:

Seventy years ago, Christian America sent over Christian men and women to give religion and civilization to Hawaii. Today, three of the sons of those missionaries are at your capitol asking you to undo their father’s work. Who sent them? Who gave them the authority to break the Constitution which they swore they would uphold? Today, I, a poor weak girl with not one of my people with me and all these ‘Hawaiian’ statesmen against me, have strength to stand up for the rights of my people. Even now I can hear their wail in my heart and it gives me strength and courage and I am strong – strong in the faith of God, strong in the knowledge that I am right, strong in the strength of seventy million people who in this free land will hear my cry and will refuse to let their flag cover dishonor to mine!

Despite pleas to U.S. President Grover Cleveland, who brought her plight before Congress, her efforts could not prevent eventual annexation.

Treating Ka’iulani with contempt, the pro-annexation press referred to her in print as a half-breed, calling her “dusky”, although she was saved from the blatantly racist treatment repeatedly given her Aunt, the Queen of Hawaii.

Typical of the time, “positive” accounts of the Princess’ appearance often tried to emphasize what was thought to be “white” about her.

Occasionally, the British half from her father, Archibald Cleghorn, was also disparaged by American writers fearing Great Britain was a rival for possession of Hawaii.

Returning to Europe to finish her education, she received further tragic news that her childhood friend, Robert Louis Stevenson had died and that a new Republic of Hawaii had been established in her absence.

Learning that her half-sister, Annie Cleghorn, and later her English guardian, Theophilus Harris Davies, had both died, a great sadness overwhelmed her and her health started to decline.

Arriving back in Hawaii in 1897, she thought the warmer climate would help her recover, but she continued to deteriorate.

Kaiulani in San Francisco, 1897
Kaiulani in San Francisco, 1897

Even the new house her father had built for her couldn’t lift her spirits as she struggled to readjust to the tropical climate of the Hawaiian islands.

Princess Kaiulani's residence at Ainahau with peacocks on the lawn. The new house was constructed by Archibald Scott Cleghorn for his daughter's return from Europe in 1897
Princess Kaiulani’s residence at Ainahau with peacocks on the lawn. The new house was constructed by Archibald Scott Cleghorn for his daughter’s return from Europe in 1897

Continuing to make public appearances at the urging of her father, she became visibly drawn and emotionally exhausted.

Princess Kaiulani standing on top of steps on the porch of her house at ʻĀinahau; wearing the holoku and a lei
Princess Kaiulani standing on top of steps on the porch of her house at Āinahau; wearing the holoku and a lei
Newspaper article about Princess Ka'iulani's betrothal to Prince Kawānanakoa of Hawaii, 1898

At least there was something to look forward to—the announcement of her engagement to Prince David Kawānanakoa of Hawaii.

The “Island Rose,” heir to the throne and their symbol of resistance, would unite with a prince known for his intelligence and dedication to their land. While shadows of annexation loomed, this union ignited a glimmer of hope for a future rooted in their heritage, where their beloved princess, blooming once more, might guide them through uncertain waters.

Princess Kaiulani seated wearing dress with embroidered bodice for a formal picture, 1897
Princess Kaiulani seated wearing dress with embroidered bodice for a formal picture, 1897
Queen Liliuokalani wearing black in mourning over the annexation of Hawaii

The day Hawaii was annexed as a territory of the United States on August 12, 1898, citizen Ka’iulani and her aunt, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, wore funeral attire to protest what they considered an illegal transaction.

One of the last public appearances of Victoria Ka’iulani was at a party thrown for U.S. Annexation Commissioners the following October.

It was bad enough to lose the throne but infinitely worse to have the flag go down…Victoria Ka'iulani
The luau or banquet at ʻĀinahau for the U.S. Annexation Commissioners, hosted by Princess Kaiulani who is looking towards camera on the left side of the photo. Leslie's Weekly October 20, 1898
The luau or banquet at Āinahau for the U.S. Annexation Commissioners, hosted by Princess Kaiulani who is looking towards camera on the left side of the photo. Leslie’s Weekly October 20, 1898

Riding in the mountains of Hawaii Island in late 1898, Ka’iulani was caught in a storm and came down with a fever and pneumonia.

She died on March 6, 1899 at the age of 23 of inflammatory rheumatism.

Just as her mother had foretold, Ka’iulani wouldn’t get married and would never become Queen.

Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1899
Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii, 1899

Princess Ka’iulani loved peacocks.

Growing up enjoying the company of a flock originally belonging to her mother, she is sometimes called the “Peacock Princess”.

Victoria Kaʻiulani, "the Peacock Princess", 1895
Victoria Ka’iulani, “the Peacock Princess”, 1897

Women’s Fashions of the Late Victorian Era

During the Victorian Era, advances in technology and distribution saw fashion change from an exclusive privilege of the wealthy elites to something that could be enjoyed by ordinary people.

The Industrial Revolution inspired a flowering of creativity in architecture, literature, and decorative and visual arts, all playing a part in influencing the latest fashions.

Changing attitudes to traditional gender roles and the rising middle class meant that by the late Victorian Era, a new age of mass consumerism had begun.

Unlike earlier centuries, when it was commonplace for women to help with the family business, Victorians thought a woman’s place was in the home.

1885 Fashion plate
1885 Fashion plate

Victorian fashion wasn’t utilitarian, it was an expression of position in society.

1888 Fashion Plate
1888 Fashion Plate

The upper class wore clothes adorned with embroideries and trims; the middle class, less extravagant; and the working class, whatever they could afford.

Depicted in this painting is a middle-class woman showing off her newly purchased bonnet at her sister’s modest home.

The New Bonnet by Eastman Johnson, 1876
The New Bonnet by Eastman Johnson, 1876

Casting off the shackles of crinolines of the 1850s and 1860s, the late Victorian era saw several innovations to bring more practicality and mobility to fashion whilst maintaining the volume of fabric.

Introduced in the late 1860s, the bustle was a framework used to expand and support the fullness of a woman’s dress at the back, leaving the front and sides flatter for ease of movement.

Reaching its greatest extension by the mid-1880s, it was popularly boasted that the cantilevers of bustles could support an entire tea service.

1884-86. Dinner Dress. American. Silk. metmuseum
1884-86. Dinner Dress. American. Silk. metmuseum

With women becoming more involved in activities outside the home, fashion designers made changes to suit.

Skirts were given more ground clearance and trains were made simpler, stronger and dragged less on the ground while keeping the same overall form.

1885 Walking Dress. French. House of Worth. Silk, glass. metmuseum
1885 Walking Dress. French. House of Worth. Silk, glass. metmuseum

Abandoned by the 1890s, the bustle evolved into skirts with a much more subtle flow from the wearer’s thin corsetted waist.

Necklines were high, while sleeve size increased.

1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton
1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton

Becoming bell-shaped, dresses were made to fit tighter around the hip area.

1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton
1892 Dress. American. Silk, cotton

While sleeves and bodices initially peaked at the shoulders, size would increase considerably.

1890 Dress. American. Silk, linen
1890 Dress. American. Silk, linen

Beginning in the mid-1890s, exaggerated “leg o’mutton” sleeves grew in size until disappearing in about 1906.

1895 Afternoon jacket. French. Silk, jet, beads
1895 Afternoon jacket. French. Silk, jet, beads
1896 Wedding dress. House of Worth. Silk, pearl. Credit metmuseum
1896 Wedding dress. House of Worth. Silk, pearl. Credit metmuseum
1895 Dress. French. Silk
1895 Dress. French. Silk

Skirts started to take on a graceful, curved, “A-line silhouette”.

1897 Gown. House of Worth
1900 Ball Gown. French. Doucet. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1900 Ball Gown. French. Doucet. Silk, metal. metmuseum

A glittering extravaganza, the neoclassical motifs in the below dress add a texture and lighting effect to stand out at a formal ball.

1890 Evening ensemble. American. Silk. metmuseum
1890 Evening ensemble. American. Silk. metmuseum

Changing attitudes about acceptable activities for women also made sportswear popular, particularly for bicycling and tennis.

Bicycling; The Ladies of the Wheel by François Courboin, 1896
Bicycling; The Ladies of the Wheel by François Courboin, 1896
A june Afternoon by A. B. Frost, 1898
Le Chalet du Cycle au Bois de Boulogne by Jean-Georges Béraud, 1900
Le Chalet du Cycle au Bois de Boulogne by Jean-Georges Béraud, 1900
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1885
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1885

Although introduced much earlier, the riding habit became more practical, with a much simpler, more formal appearance.

Void of embellishments, it was made of tough woolen fabric in a single dark colour and worn with matching hat and veil.

1890 Three-piece Riding Habit. Wool twill, full finish
1890 Three-piece Riding Habit. Wool twill, full finish
The Ride by Pierre Auguste Renoir
The Ride by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Crucial to a respectable appearance were hats and gloves—to be seen bareheaded was simply improper.

1899 Millinery Print. France
1899 Millinery Print. France

Dozens of fanciful designs provided women with almost endless choice.

Fashion plate showing three bust portraits of Jane Harding, Baronne de Carlsberg, and Suzanne, actresses at the Gymnase theater, Paris, wearing hats designed by Madame Carlier
Fashion plate showing three bust portraits of Jane Harding, Baronne de Carlsberg, and Suzanne, actresses at the Gymnase theater, Paris, wearing hats designed by Madame Carlier

Women who wanted a more modest appearance often preferred bonnets but they became associated with a matronly appearance.

The Summer Bonnet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1893
The Summer Bonnet by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, 1893
1892 Evening bonnet. American. Silk, cotton, jet, feather. metmuseum
1892 Evening bonnet. American. Silk, cotton, jet, feather. metmuseum
Broadway stage performer and singer, Anna Held

Straw hats were essential summer wear for outdoor activities like croquet.

1890 Hat. American. Leghorn straw, silk chiffon
1890 Hat. American. Leghorn straw, silk chiffon
The Croquet Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1890
The Croquet Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A., 1890

The widening of hats towards the end of the 19th century hinted at the enormous hats that were to follow during the Edwardian era.

A Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms by Edouard Bisson, 1895
A Portrait of a Lady in a Black Hat with a Bouquet of Flowers in her Arms by Edouard Bisson, 1895

The late 1890s returned to the tighter sleeves often with small puffs or ruffles capping the shoulder but fitted to the wrist.

1897 Two-piece dress. House of Rouff. Silk twill and silk cut velvet on twill foundation
1897 Two-piece dress. House of Rouff. Silk twill and silk cut velvet on twill foundation

Indispensable accessories for the Victorian lady, parasols of the late Victorian era were exuberant and lace-covered with extremely fine handle detail.

Here, the bright colours indicative of the French touch on the left contrast with the black parasol for mourning.

1895 - 1900 parasols. Silk, wood, metal, tortoiseshell.metmuseum
1895 – 1900 parasols. Silk, wood, metal, tortoiseshell.metmuseum

From the 1870s to the twentieth century, women’s shoes changed to include higher heels and more pointed toes.

Low-cut pumps were worn for the evening.

Ankle-length laced or buttoned boots were also popular.

Woman's Bar Shoes, 1898
Woman’s Bar Shoes, 1898
1894. Evening slippers. American. Silk
1894. Evening slippers. American. Silk
1890 Eveing boots. French. Silk, metla. metmuseum
1890 Evening boots. French. Silk, metal. metmuseum
1892 Pair of Woman’s Bar Shoes (Wedding). Suede, sueded leather, silk gauze, silk satin
1895 Women's Wedding Boots. Kid leather with sueded leather and pearls
1895 Women’s Wedding Boots. Kid leather with sueded leather and pearls

Those of the upper class who were invited to attend the royal courts of Europe would wear something altogether more extravagant and reminiscent of the 18th century.

As the wife of Washington Augustus Roebling, the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, Emily Warren Roebling ran the day-to-day supervision of the project for a period of fourteen years after husband became ill.

She wore this gown for her formal presentation to Queen Victoria in 1896.

1896 Court Presentation Ensemble. American. Silk, metal, cotton, leather
1896 Court Presentation Ensemble. American. Silk, metal, cotton, leather

Presentation at court was a special event for American women of Roebling’s social status and court protocol dictated the attire.

Lavishly embroidered, the sumptuous textiles and long train are characteristics of a formal gown appropriate for the occasion.

Originally intended to be worn at home for afternoon tea with family and friends, by the late 1900s, tea gowns were worn through the evening for dinner and other events.

Although just as elegant as formal wear, tea gowns were worn without corsets or assistance from a maid.

Comfortable and relaxing, they would be harbingers of things to come.

1900 Tea gown. French. House of Worth. metmuseum
1900 Tea gown. French. House of Worth. metmuseum

By the close of the Victorian era, women were liberated from tight-laced corsets, restrictive layers of crinolined or bustled fabric, and society’s expectation of a woman’s role.

1891 Corset. French. Silk. metmuseum
1891 Corset. French. Silk. metmuseum

There was a new woman in town and she was more confident, self-assured, and ready to meet her true potential than ever before.

No longer were women seen as either “fragile” or “voluptuous” as portrayed in earlier decades, but athletic, emancipated, and ready to enter the workforce.

Gibson Girls in beach attire by Charles Dana Gibson, 1898
Gibson Girls in beach attire by Charles Dana Gibson, 1898

She was the Gibson Girl, and she would fight for the right to vote in the 20th century.

Edwardian Fashion: A 5-Minute Guide

The Edwardian era was the period covering the reign of King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910, and is sometimes extended to 1919.

King Edward VII in coronation robes

Edward loved to travel, setting a style influenced by the art and fashions of Continental Europe.

English socialite Vita Sackville-West and friends at Ascot, 1912

“A leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag.” —Samuel Hynes.

Reminiscing in the 1920s, after the horrors of world war one, the Edwardian era was remembered with nostalgia.

A bygone time of long summer afternoons and garden parties, basking in a sun that never set on the British Empire.

Garden party at Fort York, Toronto, Canada, c1909

Time for some Edwardian fashion fun.

Two French evening dresses from the Edwardian era (1901 – 1919) battle for your vote. Which one will win? Cast your vote to find out.

Dress A

c1905 Gala Dress. Silk tulle, machine woven silk in plain weave and satin. Silk ribbons, metal hooks. French, now owned by National Museum Norway.

Dress B

1909 evening gown with empire waist, short sleeves and fishtail hem; skirt is square sequins on net over satin fitted to fishtail. Callot Soeurs.

27
Which dress do you prefer?

The Edwardian era marked a prominent turn in the direction of fashion for women.

Couturiers of Paris introduced a new columnar silhouette, with a distinctive “S” shaped curve.

It signaled the demise of the corset, which had been an indispensable garment of fashionable Victorian women.

The Edwardian era saw the full flowering of Parisian haute couture as the arbiter of styles and silhouettes for women of all classes.

Fashionable Londoners in front of Harrods, 1909

A series of Edwardian fashion plates give us a good idea of the couturier designs that formed the basis for what women would wear.

Featuring Spring season designs from 1901 to 1906, these New York fashion plates also have notes from the designer.

The first plate features a rose red dress with a high collar and long sleeves. The dress has two decorative bands, one with horizontal stripes of deep pink and black, and the other with pink floral brocade. The collar and bodice have a “v” design, and the sleeves include puffed sections of rose. The skirt is gathered to the waist, flaring out with a slight train at the back. Decorative bands create a petal effect above the hem.

The second plate features the dark, up-swept “Gibson Girl” hairstyle and long red dress with a black trellis-like diamond pattern on the bodice and skirt. The outfit starts with a high-necked, long-sleeved floral blouse in white, red, and black. The blouse extends beneath a full bodice, cinched at the waist with several black bands. The dress flows to the ground with a double layer of red ruffles and a train of tightly-gathered folds at the back, ending in ruffles. The rear view of the dress is shown in black and white.

The third plate features a yellow gown with leaf or abstract flower pattern, deep V-neck over a pink under-layer, and high lace collar. The collar has three or four picot-edged ruffles with narrow black bands and a rosette of eight loops of narrow black ribbon at the V-neck. Bodice features three vertical bands of black lace on each side of the center front.
Elbow-length sleeves mirror the collar with ruffles and a black rosette. The waist has three horizontal rows of black with bows at the back, and two long streamers over the gored skirt, flaring into a trumpet hem with a slight train. Vertical lines of black lace surround the skirt at knee length, and five bands of ruffles with picot-edged black ribbon adorn the hem.
Complete with elbow-length mitts and a black-banded, yellow flat-brimmed straw hat with white ostrich plumes.

The fourth plate features a home outfit with an elaborate up-swept hairstyle, rose-colored gown with floral-patterned sleeves, lower bodice, and skirt insets. Square neckline with pleats for fullness, floral lower bodice with rose cap sleeves, and bands of trim. Lower floral sleeves are full to the elbow, gathered snug from elbow to wrist. Softly gathered skirt flares into a trumpet hemline, flat at the front with three bands of decorative stitching on the hips. Ornate floral bands decorate the skirt below the knee on each side.

Of course, it just wouldn’t be the Edwardian era without hats, would it? Nine photographs of women numbered 1 through 9 show a variety of hats for Spring 1902.

In the upper left, number 1 wears a dark dress with a white jabot and a hat adorned with overlapping rows of leaves.

Below her, number 2 dons a high-necked white lace dress with a dark straw flat-brimmed hat featuring white on the crown and roses under the left side.

Number 3 sports a dark jacket over a white lace high-necked blouse. Her hat is woven straw with wide strands and several large feathers on the crown.

In the center column at the top, number 4 wears a white lace dress similar to number 2, with a hat covered in white lace, bows, and roses.

Number 5 wears a white lace gown with a jabot, and her hat has an upstanding brim adorned with rows of small beads and feathers fastened by a round jeweled brooch.

Number 6 is in a black outfit trimmed with white-edged ribbons, checks, and lace. Her dark hat has a high brim trimmed with white lace and adorned with many white plumes.

At the top of the right-hand column, number 7 wears a dark patterned high-necked blouse with a deep white collar featuring a scalloped hem and inset diamond patterns.

Number 8 wears the same dress as number 6. Her small-brimmed white hat is adorned with white flowers, bows, and black-dotted veiling.

Number 9, with her back turned, wears a light jacket with a fluffy white jabot. Her white hat has a banded brim turned up, trimmed with ruched dark velvet ribbon around the crown, and a jaunty feather at the side.

Edwardians showcased their latest fashions at horse races, as seen in the next plate featuring three women in conversation amidst an attentive crowd.

On the left, a woman wears a mulberry embroidered French voile gown with a high lace collar, softly gathered sleeves, and a flared skirt. Her high-crowned straw hat is adorned with purple flowers and a large black feather plume.

In the center, a woman dons a black chiffon satin taffeta gown with a high white lace collar extending to the waist. Top-stitched pleats at the shoulders create bust fullness, and the skirt features inverted box pleats. Her black velvet hat has a turned-up brim and is decorated with a large white ostrich plume.

On the right, a woman wears a pale yellow tussar gown with Irish lace, featuring a v-neck collar, released pleats, and elbow-length sleeves with lace cuffs. A soft bow tie and a fabric belt with a large buckle accentuate the waist. Her wide-brimmed straw hat, adorned with a black band and a large yellow rose, complements the ensemble.

References: Wikipedia, Clairemont College, National Museum of Norway, Gregg Museum of Art & Design.

10 Facts About the Victorian Tradition of White Weddings

1
White weddings started with Queen Victoria

Although Queen Victoria was not the first monarch to wear white at her wedding, she is credited with starting the tradition of a white wedding when she chose to wear a white wedding dress to marry Prince Albert in 1840.

The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840 by George Hayter
The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840 by George Hayter

2
Wearing white was unusual at the time of her wedding

At the time of Queen Victoria’s wedding, wearing white was considered unusual, but in less than a decade, it was being proclaimed as a long-standing tradition. Godey’s Lady’s Book—the most widely circulated magazine in America—wrote:

Custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.
Queen Victoria sported the rounded shoulderline that enhanced the length of her neck—a look that was prized through most of the nineteenth century. From the 1830s to the 1880s, the lowered splayed stance of corset straps and open neckline lent a romantic effect.
Queen Victoria sported the rounded shoulderline that enhanced the length of her neck—a look that was prized through most of the nineteenth century. From the 1830s to the 1880s, the lowered splayed stance of corset straps and open neckline lent a romantic effect.

3
White dresses symbolized innocence and status

Not only did white wedding dresses connote innocence and sexual purity, but because laundry technology was not very advanced in the early Victorian period, they also represented a way to display conspicuous consumption.

White wedding dresses showed that the bride’s family could afford a dress that would be ruined by any type of work, indicating that they must be from the leisure class.

Silk-satin, trimmed with Honiton appliqué lace, machine net and bobbin lace, hand-sewn. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016
Silk-satin, trimmed with Honiton appliqué lace, machine net and bobbin lace, hand-sewn. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016

4
Queen Victoria wrote about her wedding dress in her 122-volume diary

Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria was an avid diarist, filling 122 volumes during her lifetime. Describing her choice of wedding dress, she wrote:

I wore a white satin dress, with a deep flounce of Honiton lace, an imitation of an old design. My jewels were my Turkish diamond necklace & earrings & dear Albert’s beautiful sapphire brooch.

5
Victoria’s wedding supported the English lace cottage industry

Examples of Honiton Lace from Honiton, Devon
Examples of Honiton Lace from Honiton, Devon

The lace used for Queen Victoria’s wedding dress was from Honiton in Devon. Lace making was still a cottage industry and her choice demonstrated support for working-class Britain.

The lace comprised of sprigs or motifs made separately and then sewn together into a net.

It is thought Flemish refugees brought the art to England in the mid-to-late 16th century.

6
She commissioned Franz Xaver Winterhalter to paint an anniversary gift for Albert

Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847. Miniature by John Haslem.
Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1847. Miniature by John Haslem.

In 1847, Victoria commissioned Franz Xaver Winterhalter to paint a portrait of her wearing her wedding clothes as an anniversary present for Prince Albert. The portrait was also copied as an enamel miniature by John Haslem.

7
Her veil was 12 ft long

The veil, which matched the flounce of the dress, was four yards in length and 0.75 yards wide. When Victoria died, she was buried with her wedding veil over her face.

Wedding veils helped promote the Victorian ideal of modesty and propriety. Etiquette books spread the notion that decorous brides were naturally too timid to show their faces in public until they were married.

1868 Wedding Dress. American. Cincinnati Art Museum
1868 Wedding Dress. American. Cincinnati Art Museum

8
She wore specially made matching silk slippers

Queen Victoria's wedding slippers
Queen Victoria’s wedding slippers

Queen Victoria’s white satin slippers matched the white colour of her dress. Long ribbon ties fastening round the ankles held the shoes in place. They were made by Gundry and Son, 1 Soho Square, Boot and Shoemakers to the Queen.

9
Her train needed twelve bridesmaids

A watercolour design for Queen Victoria's twelve bridesmaids' dresses. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016
A watercolour design for Queen Victoria’s twelve bridesmaids’ dresses. Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2016

The train of Queen Victoria’s wedding dress measured 18 feet (5.5 m) long, requiring 12 bridesmaids to carry it.

10
She started a trend followed by millions

Hollywood movie weddings, especially in the second half of the 20th century, have helped the popularity of white weddings.

But British royal weddings have probably done more to ensure the tradition of white weddings is here to stay than anything else.

In 1981, 750 million people tuned in to watch Charles, Prince of Wales marry Diana Spencer in her elaborate white taffeta dress, with a 25-foot-long train. This wedding is generally considered the most influential white wedding of the 20th century—and also the most expensive at an inflation-adjusted $110 million.

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A Victorian Fashion Show

Imagine you’re attending a fashion show in the Victorian era. You get to choose the trends for the next Victorian season—what’s hot and what’s not from the entire period of Queen Victoria’s reign—1837-1901.

Before we begin voting yea or nay, let’s review the Victorian ladies fashion scene.

Read more …

In the 1840s and 1850s, dresses were mostly simple and pale, often with wide puffed sleeves. Corsets and chemises were worn under gowns, together with multiple layers of petticoats. The arrival of the crinoline meant far fewer petticoats were required to maintain the desired fullness and volume of skirts. Dresses with a solid bodice were worn during the day, and a low-neckline off-the-shoulder look was typical for evening wear.

By the 1860s, skirts were  flatter at the front and projected out more at the back. Wide pagoda sleeves and high necklines with lace or tatted collars became popular. The low-neckline evening dresses were worn with short gloves, fingerless lace or crocheted mitts. In America, the influence of civil war military-style decoration appeared in civilian clothing.

In the 1870s, tea gowns were worn for entertaining at home and didn’t require corsets. Bustles replaced crinolines for supporting skirts, as a slimmer style came into vogue. Evening dresses were very tight around the corseted torso.

During the 1880s, bustles initially became less prominent, but sizes grew again later in the decade. Greater affluence brought more leisure time with fashion catering to riding and walking pursuits.

High collars, held in place by collar stays, and stiff steel boning characterized the 1890s. Crinolines and bustles were no more. Instead, in came the tiny wasp waist.

Vote yea or nay for your favorites below …

Vote for your favorites

Scroll through the dresses, select up to 3 of your favorites (click again to de-select), and then click the Vote button at the bottom.

Click to open the fashion show
21
Min votes count should be 1

25 Victorian Dresses Worth a Fortune

It was 1858, Paris, France.

It was 1858, Paris, France. English fashion designer Charles Frederick Worth “the father of haute couture” had opened the famous House of Worth on the Rue de la Paix.

Worth had worked at Swan & Edgar and Lewis & Allenby in London, then moved to France to work at Maison Gagelin in Paris. Empress Eugenie had hired Gagelin to supply the trousseau for her wedding to Napoleon III, Emperor of France.

When Worth opened his own house, he was introduced to Eugenie … and the rest is history. Her patronage boosted his reputation and he was soon dressing the royalty of Europe.

While Worth dressed royalty, Franz Xaver Winterhalter painted royalty.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter, painter (1805-1873).

Winterhalter was a German painter who became one of the leading court portraitists of the 19th century. His skill at creating a flattering likeness of royals earned him a reputation as a specialist in dynastic and aristocratic portraiture.

Here are 25 dresses painted by Franz Winterhalter, many of which will have been designed by the House of Worth in Paris.

Have fun voting for your favorite!

The Art of Women’s Tennis

Sport says a lot about how far society has come. Leading social historian Harold Perkins once put it this way,

The history of societies is reflected more vividly in the way they spend their leisure than in their politics or their work. Sport in particular is much more than a pastime or recreation. It is an integral part of a society’s culture (and) gives a unique insight into the way a society changes and impacts on other societies.

When you watch Wimbledon this year, you will be watching a sport that is probably the closest there is to gender equality. Wimbledon gives male and female tennis players equal screen time and equal pay.

According to this article in the Atlantic, only three women appear on Forbes’ list of the 100 highest-paid athletes—all of them are tennis players.

It was the Victorians who first recognized the importance of women’s tennis. The world’s oldest tennis tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, added Ladies Singles to the roster in 1884.

In 2007, Wimbledon and the French Open joined other Grand Slam tournaments in giving equal prize money to men and women—tennis has broken down the gender pay gap.

But it wasn’t always that way.

In 1973, Billie Jean King had the weight of the world on her shoulders as she played against former number-one-ranked Bobby Riggs in a US-televised tournament dubbed “Battle of the Sexes”.

In 1973, a woman could not get a credit card without her husband or father or a male signing off on it. —Billie Jean King.

Billie Jean King triumphed that day and said it wasn’t about winning at tennis, but about showing that women were confident, strong and equal.

89 years before Billie Jean King’s historic win, there was another historic moment taking place at Wimbledon, as Maud Watson faced Lillian Watson (her sister) to become the first female Wimbledon Champion.

Imagine Maud facing one of today’s players, such as Maria Sharapova, and it becomes abundantly clear that Victorian women played with a significant handicap—their clothing!

Maria Sharapova and Maud Watson dressed for tennis.
Maria Sharapova and Maud Watson dressed for tennis

Victorian Society dictated that arms had to be covered and ankles hidden by gowns that almost touched the ground. Furthermore, women had to endure three starched petticoats under the dress to make it blossom out. Think how hot it must have been!

Naturally, the infamous Victorian corset was also a requirement to maintain an hourglass figure at all times. Not to mention the expense of the entire ensemble.

Heeled boots, a rigid whalebone collar, and a wide-brimmed hat rounded out the sporting attire.

Now imagine trying to run to the net for the drop shots … and dash back to the baseline to return a lob.

Anyone for tennis?
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Enjoy a trip down the tennis memory lane with these images of a bygone time.

A Game of Tennis by George Goodwin Kilburne (English, 1839 - 1924)
A Game of Tennis by George Goodwin Kilburne (English, 1839 – 1924)
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, 1885
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, 1885
Tennis by James Guthrie - 1890
Tennis by James Guthrie – 1890
The Tennis Racket by James Guthrie - 1890
The Tennis Racket by James Guthrie – 1890
Tennis Players by Horace Henry Cauty, 1885
Tennis Players by Horace Henry Cauty, 1885
The Ring by Robert Vonnoh, 1892
The Ring by Robert Vonnoh, 1892
A Game of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall
A Game of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall
A Game of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall
A Game of Tennis by John Strickland Goodall
The Tennis Party by Charles March Gere - 1900
The Tennis Party by Charles March Gere – 1900
Tennis Game by the Sea by Max Liebermann - 1901
Tennis Game by the Sea by Max Liebermann – 1901
Tennis Game by the Sea by Max Liebermann - 1901
Tennis Game by the Sea by Max Liebermann – 1901
The Tennis Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A. - 1885
The Tennis Party by Sir John Lavery, R.A. – 1885
The Tennis Match by Sir John Lavery, R.A. (1856 - 1941)
The Tennis Match by Sir John Lavery, R.A. (1856 – 1941)
Portrait of His Sister in Law by Arthur Hacker (English, 1858–1919)
Portrait of His Sister in Law by Arthur Hacker (English, 1858–1919)
Tennis Players by the Sea by Max Liebermann - circa 1901
Tennis Players by the Sea by Max Liebermann – circa 1901
Tennis Anyone by Emile Vernon (French, 1872 - 1919)
Tennis Anyone by Emile Vernon (French, 1872 – 1919)
The Tennis Player by Percy Shakespeare (English, 1906 - 1943)
The Tennis Player by Percy Shakespeare (English, 1906 – 1943)
A Rest after the Match by Jose Villegas y Cordero, c. 1915
A Rest after the Match by Jose Villegas y Cordero, c. 1915