japonisme: liberty, in more ways than one

16 November 2007

liberty, in more ways than one

(did arthur lazenby liberty start the arts and crafts movement, or just give it a home, as did bing in paris to art nouveau. again we see the newly-arisen middle class supporting an entrepreneurial class who was able to create, support, make a living from, and otherwise bring or exploit new tastes and standards to the buying publics. both men did importing as well as encouraging new, local, design. we look at dresses.)

General dress reform movement was sup- ported by a conglom- eration of many different ideological groups, including

health advocates and feminists. In the early nineteenth century, concern arose about the distortion of internal organs and the circulatory problems caused by the tight lacing of corsets. Also of concern was the general inability of women and girls to get decent exercise because of petticoats, long trains, and the heavy structural paraphernalia worn under clothing. The excessive weight of the fabric carried by fashionably dressed women was a problem as well. In response to these concerns, the Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881. Its vision was encapsulated in an article in the Society’s Gazette:

The Rational Dress Society protests against the introduction of any fashion in dress that either deforms the figure, impedes the movements of the body, or in any way tends to injure the health. It protests against the wearing of tightly-fitting corsets; of high-heeled shoes; of heavily-weighted skirts, as rendering healthy exercise almost impossible; and of all tie down cloaks or other garments impeding on the movements of the arms. It protests against crinolines or crinolettes of any kind as ugly and deforming….

[It] requires all to be dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully, to seek what conduces to health, comfort and beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other.

Ultimately, women’s issues of comfort, health, and freedom of movement were more forceful and lasting influences on dress reform than were aesthetic issues, although dress reform, as a wider cultural phenomenon, did reject Victorian frippery, harsh aniline dye colors and stiff fabrics. Artistic dress in particular adopted soft, flowing fabrics in muted colors, called “Art Colors” by Liberty of London, called “strange, old-fashioned, and indescribable” by critics. Unlike styles derived from French fashions, artistic dress had very little embellishment, limited mostly to smocking and simple, free-style embroidery. Liberty of London provided beautiful silks and woolens for artistic clothing, and eventually carried artistic gowns in their in-store boutique, The Liberty & Co. Artistic and Historic Costume Studio, opened in 1884. Several years later Liberty & Co. challenged the supremacy of French fashion by presenting aesthetic gowns at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universalle. 1

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Blogger Changes in the wind said...

Beautiful and breathable.....ahhhh

17 November, 2007 06:01  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

ahhh -- yes. :^)

by the way, did you notice the post you inspired?....

17 November, 2007 10:18  
Blogger Diane Dehler said...

Blue satin...French smocking...cool on the skin...swish swish..swish.. circles..gazebos..elegant attitudes...blue streaked hair, nose rings and more attitude. Satin, the very work evokes...

17 November, 2007 22:05  
Blogger Changes in the wind said...

Am not sure if you are referring to me in you reponse but if so I don't know that I understand.

18 November, 2007 06:22  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

yes, changes, check this out!

18 November, 2007 10:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh ! I am glad, the characters to reproduce appear finally on my computer and I can you leave a comment!
I love these clothes, so beautiful and elegant ...

19 November, 2007 06:46  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm glad they did too because i truly appreciate all your warm comments.

dodn't you just wish you could just go out and find things like these (priced so you can afford them of course).....

26 November, 2007 08:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG, that 5th pic down (pink dress) was MY wedding gown! I bought that gown from Deborah Burke (antiquedress.com) in 2004, and wore it in my wedding in 2005. It's in a box upstairs right now! Too funny to see it on a blog. It does not have a Liberty tag, I'm sad to say, so while it looks like a Liberty gown, there's no way to know for sure. But that was good for me, because it meant I could afford to buy it for my wedding! I know this blog post was years ago, but I had to say something, since I saw my gown!
~MMP in Norfolk, VA

26 February, 2011 06:17  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

mmp-- that is SO AMAZING!! thanks for commenting! that dress is stunning; how did it feel to wear? why don't you frame it and put it on the wall??! :^) (i'm actually serious!)

26 February, 2011 09:58  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

ps -- this is the back, correct? what does the front look like?

26 February, 2011 10:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that pic is the back. Deborah Burke still has pics of this dress in her museum section, so you can see detailed pics at: http://antiquedress.com/item2694.htm.

Where did you find your pic? I'm really curious, because I don't have any history of this gown, and would love to learn more! :-)

It was a fantastic dress to wear, completely silk everywhere. I love your idea of framing it for display! I'll look into that! :-)

MMP- Norfolk, VA

26 February, 2011 10:57  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

god that's gorgeous. i assume that's where i got it too. and i'm sorry, i have no further information on it.

the only thing that occurs to me is that this paquin wrap looks really similar in styling, don't you think?:


26 February, 2011 17:11  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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