Sunday, 5 April 2009

Nouveau Victoriana

Blogs this month will have the theme of ‘faded glamour’, as I take a look at fashion and style from art nouveau to art deco. Let’s start in La Belle Epoque, the French named ‘beautiful era’, that began in around 1890, lasted until the First World War and was a period of unparalleled opulence and extravagance.

Fortunately, thanks to the likes of our beloved British treasure Top Shop, these days buying the latest fashionable designs (or at least good copies) isn’t confined to the super-rich, as it was in late Victorian times. However, if you’re looking for high quality, original vintage items from yesteryear, you’ll still have to pay a pretty penny.

At ShopCurious, we’re offering an authentic, museum-quality, dark mauve velvet and jet-beaded Victorian mantelet style cape – it’s in excellent condition and wouldn’t look out of place on the catwalks of 2009. What’s amazing about this piece is the extraordinary quality of craftsmanship and the ornate embellishment, as was characteristic of luxury items, available to just a select few at the time.

Not only is this cape a perfect example of its type, but it also has several trademark features:

- front tails, called lappets
- long moiré ribbon streamers at the back,
- a small peplum to accommodate the bustle of a typical Victorian dress
- decorative Spanish matador style epaulets called mancherons
- passementerie/jet and bead fringing in the Spanish matador style

The mantelet (a new and shorter form of cape) evolved from the earlier Victorian (and longer length) mantle cape. Around this time, fashion was very much in transition and was beginning to reflect the decorative style of art nouveau - with its flowing, organic lines and curved, corseted shapes.

This fine cape comes from Bond Street in London, where the fashions of the day were dictated by mature, matronly women like Queen Victoria and later Queen Alexandra - but a fabulously stylish, timeless and individual piece like this is the sort of thing that almost anyone could wear these days. You don’t have to look like Kate Moss …

Do you?

No comments: