Friday, December 13, 2013

History's Runway: Christmas and New Year's Party Fashion Plate, 1875


Fashion plates such as this one from the V&A often formed the centerpiece of publications for women—rather, they still do.  This landscape format plate from 1875 is set in a ballroom draped with garlands, and depicts twelve women and 8 small children.  Nine of the women are in party dresses with one small boy in a brown suit.

Two women in the background wear the long-sleeved day dresses which were fashionable at the time, and a third woman wears a formal reception gown with elbow-length sleeves. The others, in their party dresses, show the elaborately bustled and embellished evening gowns with low necklines and short sleeves that dominated the fashions of the 1870s.

One female child in the centre foreground holds a fashionably dressed doll, and another to the far left holds a doll dressed as a Polichinelle (the French version of Mr. Punch).

While the artwork was created in Paris, the piece was published in London, in December 1875, in “The Young Ladies' Journal.”  A descriptive line states:  “Christmas and New Year's Party Fashion Plate December 1875. The Young Ladies' Journal.” 

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