I was invited to a friends garden party.An event to celebrate the
highly anticipated completion of her elegant English garden.
My first thought's....what am I going to wear??
Knowing my friends penchant for wearing "fashion tie-ins"
to her theme parties, I wondered, what fun, while appropriate ensemble
should I wear? As luck would have it, I remembered meeting a talented
women's tees & tops designer at a local craft stroll.
I reflected upon what caught my attention about her designs..Her
tees featured intricate, yet subtle botanical inspired artwork set
off by rich background colors of eggplant, peach & olive. Instantly
I knew these beautiful urban tees by stellarocco
designs available at stellarocco.com
had solved my fashion emergency! With one of her soft & comfortable
dandelion trio tees and a great pair of designer jeans, I'd created
the perfect ensemble, & what better compliment could I pay my
hostess than to wear a visual tribute to all of her hard work!
I solved my "fashion challenge", being the consummate
history buff, I started to wonder what women used to wear to garden
parties & celebrations...the following is a whimsical &
selective look at what some ladies have worn down the garden path,
in the past.
Century Marie Antoinette, "milkmaids to haute
couture", at the Petit Trianon, Versailles....
Contrary to popular belief, Marie Antoinette didn't invent fashions,
she promoted radical new ones through her public persona in a very
contemporary, celebrity-culture way. Early on, the dauphine discovered
that her court duties required unfashionably heavy dresses supported
by excessively long, extra rigid corsets accompanied by thick rouge
and stiff curls.
she became Queen, she steadily ordered the newest fashions from
Rose Bertin, the leading Paris couturier, among them the "robe
a la polonaise", with it's bosom-enhancing bodice and billowy
ankle baring skirts, the ensemble crowned by a "pouf"-
a three foot mountain of powdered hair accented with plumes, veils
and other flamboyant objects. The most recent example of that "coiffed
confection" was worn by Kirsten Dunst in Sofia Coppola's mesmerizing,"
When Louis XVI took the throne in 1775, he gave Petit Trianon as
a gift to Marie Antoinette. It was based on the Grand Trianon, a
retreat area the King had enjoyed as a child.
Feeling the mounting pressures of life at the French court, and
a need for escape, Marie Antoinette commissioned a complete overhaul
for the Trianon Gardens. In order to bring them fully up-to date,
she had them redesigned in the "English" style that had
been brought to the foreground by writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
In contrast to the formal, symmetrical "French" gardens
that Versailles represented for a hundred years, architect Richard
Mique's design for the Trianon gardens showcased meandering paths,
hills and streams, and a small neo-classical Temple of Love. A mock
farming village called, "Le Petit Hameau", ("The
little Hamlet") completed this "rustic" area of the
Antoinette's "natural getaway"
Created in 1783, the Petit Hameau, complete with a farmhouse, dairy
and poultry yard, featured all areas traditionally associated with
women. A woman of boundless energy and taste, she worked diligently
to create gardens with artificial ruins, grottoes, cascades, pavilions
and the newly fashionable, "delight in disorder" of the
English garden. When visiting this "ersatz farm" this
was a time for her to relax, while turning all this natural simplicity
into a pretty spectacle, trooping out in groups, those that featured
young people dancing in traditional costumes. This was her take
on "the peasant life", which she played at with her favorites,
where they dressed as milkmaids in simple gauze dresses tied around
the waist with satin ribbons.
19th century Cremorne Gardens, London Fashions a la Victorian England
Cremorne Gardens was formerly a popular pleasure garden by the side
of the River Thames in Chelsea, London England. Originally the property
of the Earl of Huntington (c. 1750), who built a mansion there,
the property passed through various hands into those of Thomas Dawson,
Baron Dartry and Viscount Cremorne (1725-1813), who greatly beautified
it. It was subsequently sold and converted into a proprietary place
of entertainment, being popular, from 1845 to 1877.The gardens in
Chelsea were new and exciting, an area that had been transformed
from a farm into a pleasure garden in 1843. It boasted a monster
dancing stage and landscaped attractions with discreet pavilions
in dark corners. Any women seen in illustrations of the gardens
after 1850, were more than likely wearing the colorful flamboyant
dress of the prostitute, and would most likely be accompanied by
a middle or upper class gentleman who could afford their services.
Couples could also view firework displays, pantomimes and daring
balloon ascents. It never however, acquired the fame of Vauxhall
Gardens, and finally became so great an annoyance to some of the
more influential residents in the adjacent neighborhoods that a
renewal of it's license was refused; and most of the site of the
gardens was soon built over. The name survives in Cremorne Road.
Victorian Ladies "Blooming Fashions"
Victorian women were very interested in fashion and fashion magazines.
With the advent of the sewing machine by Isaac Merrit Singer in
1851, it led to the mass production of clothing, but many still
had clothes designed by an exclusive dress-maker. Style was led
by couturiers like
Charles Worth, an Englishman who owned a salon in Paris.The quintessential
female silhouette of the mid-Victorian period was a tight bodice
blossoming out from the hips into a bell-like voluminous skirt.
The Crinoline replaced large numbers of stiffened petticoats lined
with horsehair which women had been wearing to achieve a fashionable
form, despite their weight and discomfort. The amount of petticoats
these women were forced to wear placed great stress on their pelvis,
apart from being extremely uncomfortable they tended to be fire
hazards as well.
A number of attempts at dress reform were made. In 1851, an American,
Amelia Bloomer, came to England celebrating the merits of a sensible
and not unfeminine costume known as "bloomers". She proposed
that women should wear a simple bodice, a wide skirt reaching just
below the knee, and underneath a pair of loose fitting trousers
reaching the ankles and tied with lace. Partly due to this timely
fashion innovation, it enabled women to feel more comfortable while
enjoying popular leisure activities of the day, like gardening,
Croquet and lawn tennis.
be continued.....please join us, as our "journey down fashions
garden-path" continues, from the 1920's to a special homage's
to fashion icon Audrey Hepburn & her exploration of the "gardens
of the world"....