Tuesday, January 21, 2014

History's Runway: The Rogers Half-Mourning Dress, 1889-1892

Day Dress
Paris, c. 1890
This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Records tell us that this dress once belonged to either Cara or Annge Rogers—the daughter of an American industrialist of great means. Cara would later become Lady Fairhaven—one of what was known as a “Dollar Princess.” These wealthy American young ladies came to Britain seeking titles and married into impoverished aristocratic families—providing them with the funds they needed and getting the title that was so coveted. 

In the 1880s and 1890s Cara kept full wardrobes in London, Paris and New York which she shared with her sister. This is one of them. This French formal day jacket and skirt is made from ivory figured silk which has been overlaid with chiffon and ribbons of black velvet. Machine lace and ivory velvet lead to the bustle. Such an outfit would have been suitable for a period of half-mourning, which is something both sisters were likely always in.

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