Fashion,  ThreadTalk

Bad Romance: The Romantic Era in Fashion, Volume Two

1 – Welcome, intrepid readers. The week’s #threadtalk is the 2nd half of our dive into the wild world of #Romanticism. 🎀🌹🎶🎨

And it’s all about sex, drugs & art, fueled by good ol’ imperialism (but make it #fashion). But first, a refresher:

September 27, 2021 - @nataniabarron, #threadtalk - Bad Romance, 1820-1850, Volume 2. A woman looking Skyward with a crown of white flowers on her head.

2 – We’re begin tonight in 1836 w/ Charles Darwin, who returned to England in this year.

Though we owe a great deal to Chuck, for all his study, for all that, he still determined women intellectually inferior. Not to mention his support of his eugenicist cousin, Francis Galton.

3 – For our 1836 gown, we have a lovely green and floral number. Francis Galton might have seen this gown on the women he rated across England as most beautiful to ugliest during his eugenics research. A bit of calico cotton, via LACMA.

1836, cotton dress, plain weave printed calico. Background color, green: orange and yellow printed small flowers. Puffy sleeves, rushed bodice. Slightly more pronounced flair to the skirt.

4 – In 1837, Louis Daguerre produces his first daguerreotype (printed on silvered copper plate). However, it isn’t until 1839 that it’s shared with the public, as he tries to get it sold to private investors first. It’s a $$$ process.

Photography, eventually rocks the world.

From the Wikipedia entry: View of the Boulevard du Temple, taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, includes the earliest known photograph of a person. The image shows a busy street, but because the exposure had to continue for several minutes the moving traffic is not visible. At the lower right, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the bootblack polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured. There is also what appears to be a young girl looking out of a window at the camera.

5 – This 1837 wedding gown oozes Romance. Truly, I must run through the moors as a jilted bridal ghost!

Creamy white muslin, delicate floral details, Empire influences still echoing… the last gasp of voluminous sleeves before Victoria begins her grasp on fashion. via the Met.

Although its silhouette is ample, this diaphanous wedding dress is more air than substance. The white mull austerity of Empire style had become a cream cotton muslin romance of curves. - Billowing sleeves, but tight shoulders -- narrow waist, minimal flair at skirt. All pale cream.

6 – 1838, the forced removal 16K Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muskogee (Creek) — up to 4K died.

It was the last phase of the Trail of Tears; even though Van Buren is president, he did not stop it. Humidity in the South=cotton growing climate! Plus, boosted slave trade.

7 – For 1838, I chose this dress because it reminds me of the mountains here in the Autumn. As someone who lives on occupied Cherokee land, I think about it often. I love the mountains of North Carolina, but they’re not mine to love. They’re stolen.

#fashionhistory, folks.

Cotton and wool day dress, ruched shoulders and sleeves, but not very puffy. Cinched bodice, more flared skirt. The print is brown, but the design looks like mountains. The colors are browns, reds, and blacks. You can see the shoulders dropping again.

8 – 1839 doesn’t go easy. It marks the beginning of the First Opium War against the Qing Dynasty in China. East India Co. & other merchants now smuggle 40K chests into China yearly, addiction rises. Cotton fields turn to opium fields, fueling Western appetites for silk & tea.

An engagement in the First Opium War (1839-42), showing the ‘Nemesis’ (right background, in starboard broadside view) attacking a fleet of Chinese war junks in the middle ground. The war junk third from the left is shown being destroyed with splinters flying up into the air. Two rowing boats with Chinese passengers watch from the left foreground. Various men can be seen overboard and clinging on to debris throughout the scene.

9 – 1839 silk makes sense, non? Given the context. You start to see the fullness about to go big time in the 40s, but the remnants of the puffy sleeves. Plus, some lovely ruching and princess style there on the bodice. Lovely pleating, too. Mantle pairing 💯. From the V&A.

10 – 1840.

Okay fine.

Queen Victoria & Albert get married. She wears white. She’s not the first one to do so. But Vicky does become a worldwide fashion sensation.

(Even though she’s an Imperialist monster. Empress of India 🤮)

The Marriage of Queen Victoria, 10 February 1840
 - A ton of very pale people around Victoria and Albert in Westminster, giving their vows.

11 – 1840s entry is NOT what imagine Vicky wearing, but rather what I’d like to see on Albert. How about this silk dressing gown? Is it not absolutely extra? I usually love ostentatious dressing gowns, but my brain can’t quite put this one together.

Man's full length, long sleeve dressing gown. Large folded-over lapels around neck and down front. Buttons across chest, rope belt at waist. Gown alternating stripes of silk fabric - black with small embroidered design and olive green with blue and pink embroidered floral pattern. - From the Lichfield Historical Society

12 – So, 1841.

Let’s talk about DRUGS. They’re everywhere at this point. It’s morphine! It’s chloroform! Women get them for *anything*. Coleridge is just the beginning. All kinds of experimentation is going on, being discovered every year…

How about lead & opium, anyone?

13 – 1841(-1845) gown – whilst tuberculosis chic was also the rage, morphine was a common treatment. You, too, could manage a lithe little figure in pale silk, skin flushed a hectic pink, curls against your fair forehead. Easy to picture in this gown, huh?

A pale gown of light cream, with short cap sleeves, a very narrow wait, and a line of pleated bows. High collar, billowy skirt, rather than sleeves.

14 – 1842 re: tuberculosis: that’s when things started going bad for Frédéric Chopin. The virtuoso composer and pianist complained, “I have to lie in bed all day long, my mouth and tonsils are aching so much” in February of that year after a concert.

15 – 1842’s design is actually from 1839, but it’s of Franz Liszt, Chopin’s friend and sometimes rival, because he was a serious hottie.

Also, if this is starting to sound familiar, it’s also because it’s the subject of the 1991 film IMPROMPTU.

Franz Liszt all dressed in Black, looking like a stone cold hottie.

16 – In 1843 George Sand–i.e. Aurore Dupin (and Chopin’s ex) published CONSUELO, one of the over 40 novels she wrote in her lifetime.

A wildly popular writer in her time, praised by Victor Hugo, she wore menswear regularly (without a permit). Portrayed by Judy Davis at Left.

17 – Bonus picture of Chopin and Sand together, painted by Eugene Delacroix. Like, real life historical fan fiction. Except it wasn’t!

Victor Hugo on Sand’s radical dress & behavior: “it is not my place to decide whether she is my sister or my brother.”

Sand looking over at Chopin, who is glancing at the painter, playing piano.

18 – 1843’s gown reminds me of the gown in the film that George wears when she femmes it up.

This new shape just OWNS the rest of the 1840s, too. All the triangles, all the dropped shoulders again. And the full skirts just go full princess.

This is a striking example of how 18th-century fabric was treasured. The textile was probably originally a 1740s dress which was taken apart and then reconfigured into this fashionable dress in the early 1840s. The elongated waist and V-shaped bodice front emphasize the bust and wide shoulders and were key features of the dresses of the period. - Via the Met

19 – In 1844 Clara Schumann travels to Russia w/husband Richard; she is also a celebrated pianist & composer. However, unlike him, she has four children in a row over the next five years.

She struggles to keep composing through family tragedy, having & losing children.

An illustration of Clara and Richard Schumann together, from Clara and Robert Schumann, illustration from Famous Composers and their Works, 1906. She is sitting at the keyboard, while he is standing and looking thoughtful.

20 – 1844’s dress is delicate, but has some good structure. Again, see the triangles? I like that the print here is vertical, which gives it some length, and then the scalloping on the detail along the pattern, as well. A neat use of the pattern.

(c)Victoria and Albert Museum, London - A vertical floral printed dress, with the V shaped construction, cap sleeves, and flouce skirt. The color is creme, the print is brown.

21 – 1845, the first Anglo-Sikh War begins. Guess who the Anglos are? The British East India Company💩! The Sikhs were a formidable foe & historians agree it was a very close call. Sadly, Sikh’s lost. I recommend this video for an overview:

22 – And of course, 1845 brings the irony of wearing shot silks & patterns still rooted in patterns from the very places the East India Company is still at war with.

Because that’s Imperialist appropriation for you!

Personally, love the fabric. Am not a fan of gown.

23- 1846. What about sewing machines?

What about them? Well, like typewriters, there many.

Elias Howe patented his (scandalous!) invention this year, hoping to make enough $ to get out of poverty & save his dying wife. He didn’t quite make it, but eventually made some profit.

Howe's sewing machine. A wheel and arm, meant to replicate his wife's arm movements.

24 – This 1846 silk number mirrors almost a calico look, but that incredible ruching situation is some incredible work. I imagine it’s made easier with sewing advancements we get in the future.

It’s a little paper bag-ish? But I can get with it.

25 – 1847. Charlotte Brontë publishes Jane Eyre as Currer Bell. It was called immoral, coarse, anti-Christian & reviewers could not even entertain the idea that its controversial prose could possibly be written by a woman.

I got news for y’all!

HAHAHAHA. ::wipes a tear::

Anne, Mary, and Charlotte Brontë. A famous painting of the three sisters, all in period dresses, matching hairstyles, and somber faces.

26 – Okay, so 1847 is American, I realize, but I struggle in the late 1840s, and I actually like this one. The calico, the bell sleeves, the folding… I mean <3

It’s a very pretty gown. I know it’s a little, uh, optimistic for with Brontës, but like, this thread is BLEAK.

A calico dress with bell sleeves, a low drop shoulder, and narrow waist. Long, full skirts, with mirrored pleating. It actually looks comfortable. The print is red on a cream background. Via the Met.

27 – 1848, like 1830, the West collectively lost its shit again. Revolution resounded!

In France, Brazil, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland & more!

Louis-Philippe of France abdicated, and after a bit of a shuffle, they ended up with…

::checks notes::

Napoleon III.

Napoleon III, dressed in a black suit with a red sash across his middle, at the age of 57. He has a large, waxed mustache, and has a crown beside him. He was the last monarch of France.

28 – Mourning the French lack of creativity in 1848, is this gown. Which, honestly, almost could pass for a 1950s gown. Especially with those gloves.

I love the way the stripes work, too, for that elongation and play of light against the black. Like, I’m sad but I have whimsy.

Drop shoulder, black mourning gown in a traditional shape for early Victorian gown/late Romantic; cap sleeve, big bell gown, V bodice. Vertical stripes.

29 – In 1849, Charles Dickens brings us David Copperfield.

Listen. People have tried to defend this dude for ages. A “man of his time.” Blaming feminists for trying to cancel him. It goes on.

TL;DR he left his wife (below) after 20 years & 10 kids for an 18 year old actress.

Stipple portrait of young Catherine Dickens. She wears typical Romantic hair, a bun with curls at her sides. She is classically attractive.

30 – Dickens was a STAR. He & his agent curated his persona. He burned letters & correspondence. For years, people excused his behavior with Catherine (his wife) because it seemed generous.

In 2019, new letters showed he’d tried to *commit her* to get out of their marriage.

Catherine in 1853, in ringlets, older, with a bonnet.

31 – The story is not unique. But apologists are exhausting. We even know that Dickens own kids were not super fans…

Anyway. That was later. Gotta question patriarchy. Question the record. What remains isn’t always the truth.

Here’s another… interesting dress. 1846-9ish.

32 – 1850 concludes with another George. George Eliot, who coined the term “chintz.”

Oh, and she was also one of the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era. Her name was Mary Ann Evans. In this picture, she was 21, the year she moved to London.

A woman with blonde hair pulled back on either side of her face, blue eyes, and a cleft chin. She wears a black V style gown, with a white blouse beneath, tied with laces across (almost Tudor). It might be velvet.

33 – So for 1850, we bring this gown, which sums it all up. Chinese silk. A classic early Victorian/late Romantic shape, yet with the exoticism of Asian dress. Made in England, though, of imported silk from, likely, those smuggled opium trades.

Did young George know?

From the Met - Made of Chinese patterned silk, this dress uses an export textile in a Western garment. Arguably, Asian textiles were associated in the Western mind as much with private leisure as with ceremony. Many Eastern textiles entered Western dress first as intimate boudoir and other at-home garments such as robes and banyans, suggesting the qualities of exoticism and erotic mystery associated with far-off lands. The selvage at the back waist reveals Chinese characters, indicating the textile's manufacture, and the flaring sleeves are what the West calls the pagoda style.

34 – So, let’s get to some sources.

1836 – Charles Darwin

1837 – Louis Daguerre,on%20a%20silvered%20copper%20plate.

35 –

1838 – The End of the Trail of Tears

1839 – The First Opium War

36 –

1840 – Queen Victoria & Albert

1841 – Drugs!

1842 – 43 – Sand, Lizst, Chopin

37 –
1844 – Claire Schumann

1845 – The Anglo-Sikh War

1846 – Sewing Machines

1847 – Charlotte Brontë

38 –

1848 – Another revolution

1849 – Dick(ens)

1850 – George Eliot

39 – Whew! Thanks for joining me for #threadtalk. #Romanticism is no joke & neither is the legacy we leave and benefit from.

I learn so much by just following the thread. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s necessary.

Thanks, thread heads. See you next week!

40 – I do have a tip jar now — link in my profile!

(Fuel my coffee and ink habit, no obligation, but people have asked).

And October is going to be all spooky themed!

Originally tweeted by 🦇 Natania Barron 🦇 (@NataniaBarron) on September 27, 2021.

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