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Hey Kris!

>>if we're counting backwards...that would mean we're, like, 25 or something?!? Right?! HaHa!<<

Well something like that. Actually something funny happened today along those lines. I was out with two girls from my office tonight, ordering drinks at a restaurant. They are both 20-something lovelies. The waiter asked for our IDs. I was flattered to pieces and with a big dumb smile I produced mine as well. He looked at me like I was crazy and waved it away: "Oh, sir, that's all right." I could have sunk through the floor!

>>Some of Lucile's designs you have shared from the 1910-12 period resemble something out of a Jane Austin novel- pokebonnet-esque hat and all! <<

Yes, that was a favorite period of Lucile's. Of course the "Jane Austin" style of the early 19th century, which Lucile's dresses were based on, were themselves based on ancient Greek costume.

>>You all would probably take turns in trying to shut me up! Although I'm most tempted to see this Lone Star Mafia; just remember not everyone from Detroit has a tie to Hoffa-OK? <<

No one will be shutting you up. You'll fit right in. You can join another honorary Michigan member of the Lone Star Mafia, one George Behe, and be in some very fine company indeed.

Cheers!

Randy
 

Inger Sheil

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Happy belated birthday to you, Randy! Yet another one I've missed of late (Fi, Ro, Pat - see, you're not alone!). One day I'll send notification on time.

Am rather sorry that I'm not going to get to NY in time to see the exhibition. As the Regency-era dresses were an influence on Lucile, did she ever indulge in the more risque aspects of costume that surfaced during that earlier period (and which Jane Austen's heroines would never have indulged in?) Don't know if it's an urban-costume-myth, but women were purported to have dampened their gowns in order to get a clinging, semi-transparent effect! And there was that wonderful cartoon captioned something along the lines of 'women's costume as it will soon be', showing a rather plump lady with side slits up to her hips, bosom showing and feathers in her hair.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Miss Ing,

>>Happy belated birthday to you, Randy!<<

Thanks for that; 35 is one of those strange ages - not quite young but not old yet either. Although with certain list members being 20 or younger I feel ancient. I only feel young when in the company of old fossils like Cook or Geoff who, you must admit, do hold up remarkably well for gentlemen in their 80s....

>>"As the Regency-era dresses were an influence on Lucile, did she ever indulge in the more risque aspects of costume that surfaced during that earlier period (and which Jane Austen's heroines would never have indulged in?)"<<

Lucile's gowns were risque in their use of tissue-thin chiffons and other sheer materials, particularly when worn on the stage. The effect of these transparent gowns were heightened through Lucile's penchant for creating the illusion of nudity by lining her dresses with flesh-pink satin. In this way a lady could appear quite startling from a distance. She loved to be provocative and a tease in her designs while closer inspection always proved them to be perfectly proper!

>>Don't know if it's an urban-costume-myth, but women were purported to have dampened their gowns in order to get a clinging, semi-transparent effect! <<

In the late 1790s up until about 1810 or so, I feel sure that some extremists did go in for the reputed fad of dampened dresses though I hope they did this only in summer! I do know that there was a thing for applying oil to muslin gowns to get them to cling. Lucile's revival of neo-classical styles didn't involve the wetting technique as far as I know!

>>And there was that wonderful cartoon captioned something along the lines of 'women's costume as it will soon be', showing a rather plump lady with side slits up to her hips, bosom showing and feathers in her hair.<<

Yes, I've seen the cartoon of that poor dear with her ample charms revealed! Again Lucile's adaptation of decolletage and lower limb exposure was, while daring, always within the bounds of propriety. Her slit skirts were based on the "Marveilleuse" trend of the days just following the French Revolution, a very short lived but controversial style. I think I may have mentioned this before but women of that time of upheaval also took to having their hair shorn at the neck in imitation of the look of decapitated noblewomen! Not a charming inspiration, I'd say!

Randy
 

Kyrila Scully

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My belated birthday greetings, as well, dear boy. We're the same age, now (well, I look it, anyway!). Perhaps by this time next year, I'll know the actual date of your birth, and send greeting on time.

I recall a scene in "If a Man Answers" where the girl's French mother, a former Can-Can dancer, whistfully recalled wearing a lovely pale pink costume that, from the back row, made her appear nude. I thought of that when I read your description of Lucile's "titilating" costumes.

Kyrila
 

Bob Godfrey

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Don't worry, Randy, you're still young so long as YOU can remember your birthday! Personally, I don't mind the passing of years, as so many things are better than in my youth. Cabs are more reliable without the horses, and I get a much better night's sleep without those pesky Zeppelins buzzing about overhead. But what gets me every time is that when people move their lips in the movies these days you can actually hear them speak!
 

Inger Sheil

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Don't worry - I hit 30 in just over two months time!

Now that you mention it, Randy, I do remember you discussing the risque effects that could be achieved by using flesh or warm pink toned fabrics under sheer material. It seems that some designers do these 'double take' dresses today. Between the bust line and the way of dressing the hair, there seems to be a touch of Madame Recamier or Mademoiselle Rivií¨re about them - ableit with a few more frills! What about panniers? Was she a big fan of that even earlier 18th century style that seems to have undergone a revival during the pre-war period?
 

Bob Godfrey

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I have a 1912 edition of the Daily Mirror somewhere with a set of cartoons about how ladies were putting their 'panniers' to a variety of good uses, plus a proposed male version for carrying essential equipment like golf clubs. Must try to dig it up if anyone is interested.
 

Inger Sheil

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I think that's the one I was thinking of, Bob - wasn't she carrying all sorts of assorted bits and bobs in them? Women's fashions and the more absurd trends seem to have been a stable of cartoonists as long as there has been satire...they had a wonderful time with crinolines and bustles, too!
 
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Ing,

The early 19th century look so typified by Madame Recamier in her famous David portrait was definitely a basis of influence for the styles that came in about 1907 and lasted through 1914 or so.

As to paniers, yes indeed Lucile was one of the designers in the forefront of this look. She opted for a less extreme version with soft draperies rather than the very "pouffy" effect which inspired the satirists and cartoonists.

The couturiere Madeleine Cheruit is credited with re-introducing the pannier or "peg-top" skirt in her spring 1912 collection. Lucile modified it, reinterpreting it as more neo-Grecian than rococo.

Her later designs - those of the World War I period and just after - made use of the pannier again and these were more faithful to the 18th century ideal to which you refer. Her inspiration was the portraiture of Fragonard and Boucher with their bonneted, apron-clad milk-maids .

I have seen some of the 1912 cartoons you and Bob are talking about. One in "Life" magazine shows a dear stout lady, identified as a duchess, standing in a couturier's salon before a mirror. She is admiring herself in her pannier-topped hobble skirt while the designer and his assistants look on in horror. "May we please suggest a different line, madam?" is their pensive question.
The duchess seems lost in reverie, no doubt imagining herself as one of Boucher's nymphs.
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Hi all,
I found illustrations of dress at the turn of the century quite interesting although cumbersome.
My grandmother was a milliner and trained in Johannesburg when my mother was a young girl. Apart from the flowery arrangements, she had apparently showed quite some skill in the curling of ostrich feathers along with their various arrangements on hats and garments.
When my mother and her parents arrived in London prior to their voyage on Titanic, they stayed at the Russel Hotel and set about kitting themselves out for new clothes. They shopped in Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Chelsea, both women purchasing wool serge, high -necked full length fitted coats, along with double -breasted full length coats with velvet cuffs and lapels. They bought hats to match, some with feathers, others with wide brims and some with lace face nets. They both had a passion for calf length, button up boots which were very fashionable at that time.
My grandfather Thomas, did the bulk of his shopping in Jermyn Street St, James's and bought several tailor made suits in Saville Row. With his top hat and tails and silver topped walking cane, he looked every bit the gentleman he was.
Those long grey surge coats and leather boots were to serve both women well with their freezing ordeal in lifeboat 14.

All the best,

David
 

Inger Sheil

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Randy, I think the draped effect of soft panniers was quite attractive, although - as with the bustle! - there were some women who really should not have been emphasising a certain portion of their anatomy (in this case, the hips). But then, how often do we have a fashion that is flattering to all?

It intrigues me that your grandmother trained as a milliner, David. Captain Joseph Boxhall's (Joseph Groves Boxhall's father) second wife was the widow of a milliner herself. She often used to make the trip back and forward to Paris, according to her (step) granddaughter, and had a wonderful sense of style. She was much loved by her stepchildren, and one of the things she left to the family was a box of exotic feathers for trimming hats. Her step-granddaugther showed it to me - wonderful things, ostrich etc, and osprey plumes which were particularly fine.

I'm with your mother and grandmother on the boots! Love them. My boot fancying is somewhat notorious in certain circles - it has only been our extraordinarily hot weather of the last few days that has convinced me to lay off the boots for summer.
 
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David,

Thanks for the info on your mother's and grandparents' attire. It's fascinating. May I ask if your family has kept some of your mother's hat designs? It would be wonderful to someday see her work on exhibition.

Bob,

Re: your remark about being young if you can recall your own birthday. That's the problem - I can't!

Kyrila,

Lucile's gowns "titilating?" You bet. As Dorothy Parker said, they were the things "a woman could make history in."
happy.gif


Ing,

Glad you mentioned more about Boxhall's wife's millinery goodies. I recall your mentioning that once. And you Londoners have it easy with the weather - do you know that it hit 107 degrees here yesterday?

Randy
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Randy,
Unfortunately, my grandmother had never passed this on to my mother and after the death of my grandfather Thomas, showed little interest in her past activities.
With her second husband, she ultimately ended up owning a bottle store.

Inger,
One of my South African sister-in-laws was also trained in millinery in Cape Town.
No doubt many thought in those days to get ahead, you need to get a hat!

David
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Well, it worked for Lizzie Siddal in the 1850s, Dave! She was spotted as a potential artists model by Walter Deverell while working as a milliner's assistant, and started on the path that would see her cultivate her own artistic ambitions and finally marry Rossetti.
 
D

David Haisman

Guest
Yes, I suppose there was quite a calling in those days due to the many creations and finery for the well dressed of that time.
I must admit that women of that period looked beautiful when well turned out despite suffering from corsets etc. I can remember my mother when in her nineties saying to one of my nieces, ''you're putting on too much weight my girl and should ask your mother to get you some stays''
Mentioning whale bone or suchlike to that generation no doubt was a waste of time but mother with her Victorian upbringing was very outspoken and didn't mince her words.
I often wondered if millinery these days is still regarded as a specialised occupation with the many restrictions on the use of animal products.
As regards to Walter Deverell and Rosetti, this would not be my forte' but clearly, Lizzie Siddal got ''a-head''
All the best,

David
 
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For those of you with an interest in legal history you might like to read a paper on the legendary court room scrape in which Lucile found herself in 1917. Prof. Goldberg of Columbia University has delved into the Supreme Court's Wood-vs.-Duff Gordon suit and arrived at some interesting conclusions. This law suit was one brought by advertising agent Otis Wood against his client Lucile (referred to formally as "Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon") on charges of breach of contract. It was a precedent-setting case at the time and is still a leading case in US contract law. In fact today it's required casebook reading for first-year law students.

I was glad to be able to help Goldberg on some points, and I appreciate his generous acknowledgement, but he and his research assistant Kevin Stemp were the ones who helped me tremendously, making many documents available to me that I would otherwise have had only restricted access to. They also helped this complicated case make a little more sense to me!

Anyway, here's the link to the online PDF article:
http://www2.law.columbia.edu/faculty_franke/Thursday%20Lunch/Goldberg%20Paper.pdf
 
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Hi, all:

I thought I'd give some advance word on an exhibition that will feature material relating to Lucile.

Opening this Oct. 29 will be a costume exhibition at the Museum of London, called "The London Look: Fashion from Street to Catwalk." In the past, it has been my pleasure to work with the costume and decorative arts department of this fantastic museum and this time was no exception.

As far as I know, there will be no Lucile gowns on display but there will be a paper-based display of Lucile's marvelous watercolor design sketches as well as some rare publicity items.

I was asked to loan for this part of the exhibit a series of fashion show photos from my collection as well as a few posters and programmes from some of the musical plays Lucile costumed.

In particular, the actress and singer Gertie Millar, a huge favorite of the Edwardian theatre, is being spotlighted in this show. Gertie Millar was a top client of Lucile's, wearing her dresses on and off stage, and I believe the curator (Edwina Ehrmann) has selected some images of her from one of her biggest hits, the 1912 production, "The Dancing Mistress."

I hope some of you will be able to go and see this exhibit when it opens. I will be visiting it next spring.

The Museum of London has a small group of Lucile costumes - only about 6, I believe, so the strength of their Lucile collection is an extensive archive of her spring 1912 fashion drawings. Among the actual gowns at the Museum of London (none are at present on permanent display but I am campaigning!) are two dresses donated by Lucile herself. These were designs adapted from originals worn by Gertie Millar and another great stage favorite of the day, Lily Elsie.

Below is a picture postcard of Gertie Millar in a Lucile outfit for another 1912 show, "Gipsy Love." It is a simple white cloth tailored dress with a tunic, trimmed at neck and cuffs in black satin, and the draped "wrap" skirt opens in front to reveal a petticoat of sheer white net and lace.

Randy

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GERTIE MILLAR dressed by Lucile for "Gipsy Love" (1912)
Randy Bryan Bigham Collection
 
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Simplicity, understated elegance. You can't acquire that rare understanding of garments. "You either boan wit it oh yo' not!"

That ensemble could be worn at the current Cannes Film Festival and necks would wrench to get a really good look at it!
 
S

sashka pozzetti

Guest
Does anyone know what kind of clothes Lucile wore herself? I have read that she often wore cheap clothes from a department store, but her pictures always show her looking very glamourous. In 'Titanic' she wears black. I would also like to know if she had favourite colours to wear. Does anyone know where I might find any colour pictures of Lucille?
 
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She dressed very simply in spare, untrimmed models from her collections. But she also loved a bargain and did buy, as you say, “cheap’ clothes from department stores. She admitted it was just that she didn’t have time to plan out her own wardrobe. She didn’t always wear black, but did tend toward neutrals — beige, gray, taupe, combinations of black and white, and all white. When she wore colors she wore purple, blue and a wine or burgundy. She had a penchant for long, flowing hat veils, which made her look rather like she was on safari. She preferred these in green chiffon, she said, because of the affect of the color on the eyes and the flattering shadows the color made on the face. This is all information taken from press descriptions of her clothes at various events or interviews, or from her own descriptions in letters or in articles she wrote. As to color images of her, there is a sketch for an unfinished portrait by de Laszlo, showing her in 1913 in a blue and black evening dress. That image is online I am sure. There are no natural-color photos of her that I know of, just ones that were tinted artificially. But if you are interested in her coloring, her hair was described as “auburn,” “chestnut” and “copper,” her skin was quite pale (suntans were not chic then), and she had hazel eyes. In her later years (after the age of 50), when she had likely gone gray-headed, she hennaed her hair redder than its natural color.
 

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