Form and Fashion

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Dress
Maison Soinard, Paris
About 1868-1869, 19th century
Fibre: silk (taffeta, fringe, tulle), cotton (lining); metal; bone; Sewn (machine & hand)
Purchase from Mme Roch Rolland
M969.1.11.1-4
© McCord Museum
Description
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Description

The puffed skirt is the new important stylistic element in this garment. The basqued bodice is short-waisted and has a low wide neckline edge with pleated tulle and embellished with a flounce of pleating under which fringe is attached. A flat bow is superimposed at the shoulderline on each side. The short puffed and gathered sleeves are edged with a ruche of pleated tulle. There is a draw-tape at the neckline in front, and a front closure with five self-covered buttoms. The underskirt is gored and pleated to the waistband at front and sides; at the back it is gathered to the band. There is a deep gathered flounce at the hemline, topped by a smaller one of pleated fabric. The gored overskirt is also pleated or gathered to the waistline. It has an apron front created by gathering at the sides near the hemline which results in puffing : this area is marked by a bow at each side. The back is longer than the front and is gathering at the center near the hemline which again creates puffing : a third bow is found here.The bouffant form at the sides of the skirt was reffered to at the time as a panier. The base of the overskirt is trimmed with a pleated flounce and fringe. The date is substantiated by those of Caroline-Virginie de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski's honeymoon in Europe and her documented Paris visits in 1868 and 1869, which determine when she bought the gown with the Paris label. Caroline-Virgine de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski was fashion conscious. In a diary written during her European honeymoon in 1868-1869 she remarked on the dress of New York women, finding them, to her taste, over-dressed. In London, she commented on her enjoyment of window-shopping. And while visiting Paris, she wrote of La Messe des Élégants at the Église de la Madeleine : she wryly observed that at this late mess, people seemed to be moved more by the display of the toilettes than by the service. (Excerpt from: BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Jacqueline. Form and Fashion : Nineteenth-Century Montreal Dress, McCord Museum of Canadian History, 1992, p. 34.)

Keys to History

Here, the most important stylistic change is the puffed skirt. The basqued bodice is short-waisted and has a low wide neckline edged with pleated tulle and embellished with a flounce of pleating under which fringe is attached. A flat bow adorns each shoulder. The short puffed and gathered sleeves are edged with a ruche of pleated tulle. In front, there is a draw-tape at the neckline and a closure with five self-covered buttons. The gored underskirt is pleated to the waistband at front and sides and gathered to it at the back. There is a deep gathered flounce at the hemline, topped by a smaller one of pleated fabric. The gored overskirt is also pleated or gathered to the waistline. It has an apron front created by side gathers near the hemline that form puffing marked by a bow at each side. The back, which is longer than the front, is gathered at the centre near the hem to create additional puffing, also finished with a bow. The puffed arrangement at the hips was called a pannier. The base of the overskirt is trimmed with a pleated flounce and fringe.

  • What

    This gown is made of peach silk taffeta and cream silk tulle, with peach silk hand-tied fringe (plain and crimped).

  • Where

    While visiting Paris, Caroline-Virginie de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski attended "La Messe des Élégants" at the Madeleine Church. In her diary, she wryly observed that people at this late mass seemed to be moved more by the display of finery than by the service.

  • When

    The date for this gown is substantiated by Caroline-Virginie de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski's diary, which covers her European honeymoon and two visits to Paris, in 1868 and 1869. The [object=M21951.77.563.1]gown[/object], which bears the Soinard label, was purchased there.

  • Who

    Caroline-Virgine de Saint-Ours-Kierzkowski was fashion conscious. In a diary written during her European honeymoon in 1868-1869, she remarked on the dress of New York women, finding them, to her taste, over-dressed. In London, she commented on her enjoyment of window-shopping.