"We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we always have a choice about how we deal with it. This choice is the only thing we have absolute control over in our lives. Therefore, I choose to be happy."

I am fierce, unafraid, and unapologetic.

What Happens when Charles Worth gets Bored

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in French Friday | 1 comment

What Happens when Charles Worth gets Bored

It’s French Friday again, and again, we are diving back into the world of Charles Frederick Worth, the father of haute couture. 

I am not an expert on fashion history, though I enjoy dabbling in it. The following is simply a silly idea that came to me as I was feverishly digging through Pinterest for all the House of Worth images I could find. There are biographies of him that probably explain exactly what exactly he did and why he did it.

My silly theory is this: Charles Worth produced greatness when he got bored.

I kinda sorta have proof.

Boring and Bored Worth

Okay, let’s start with his earliest dresses from the 1860’s.

House of Worth, 1860's. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Worth, 1860’s. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Worth young girl's gown. 1860's. Photo courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

House of Worth young girl’s gown. 1860’s. Photo courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Worth & Bobergh Day Dress c. 1865 Silk Satin Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

Worth & Bobergh Day Dress c. 1865 Silk Satin Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous designs, granted. Clever use of lines and fabric, granted. Boring, cookie-cutter lines of every other 1860’s gown? Absolutely.

Genius and Daring are the Cure

Now, assume that having had a modicum of success, Charles begins to feel a little confident, a little bold. He starts stitching his label into his dresses, but what’s the point of having a label that people talk about if you don’t give them a design to remember?

Now we get to the 1870’s, and Charles takes a couple of tentative creative steps forward, testing out trains, overskirts, and folding the fabric so it starts to form part of the structure of the dress itself.

House of Worth 1870. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Museum of Art.

House of Worth 1870. Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Museum of Art.

House of Worth 1870's. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Worth 1870’s. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Worth 1870's. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Worth 1870’s. Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re starting to get a different line for the bodice, pleats, and more options for mixing and matching fabrics and colors.

Evening gown 1888. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown 1888. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown 1889. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown 1889. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown. 1880's. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown. 1880’s. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown 1882. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening gown 1882. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worth 1880. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Museum.

Worth 1880. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at this. Look at the incredible, bold use of asymmetry, draping, fabric mixing, texture, and lines. There’s example of example of his genius. His son Jean-Philippe would continue with some of the most iconic designs of the 1890’s. Take a look at my Pinterest board on the House of Worth to find more awesomeness.

Some of the final designs Worth senior did himself give us these striking gowns. The use of fabric, positioning, lace, and draping is astonishing, ground-breaking, and utterly bewitching.

iconic ballgowns 1889

Charles Worth ballgowns 1887. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles Worth ballgowns 1887. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Charles Worth ballgowns 1887. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think you’ll agree with me that these examples of what happens when art, architecture, and fashion meet boredom and genius.

I guess we can all say, “Vive l’ennui!”

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Hans Holbein – Victorian Jeweler?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2016 in Renaissance Wednesday | 0 comments

Hans Holbein – Victorian Jeweler?

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) had a brother Ambrosius Holbein, father Hans Holbein the Elder, and uncle Sigmund Holbein. That’s a lot of Holbeins. Hans the Younger is best known for his career as court painter to Henry VIII of England, where he had the thankless of job of trying to make the English nobility look attractive. (I’m looking at you, Henry.)

Hans junior bounced between England and Switzerland, depending on whether he was in or out of favor (which was a tricky business when several of his portrait subjects ended up dead by the king’s orders like Sir Thomas More, or accidentally like Jane Seymour…oh, and let’s not forget the Anne of Cleaves portrait fiasco). When he wasn’t painting politically-uncertain portraits, he did quite a lot of work with woodcuts, decorative designs for walls, doors, and hearths, and jewelry.

That’s right. Hans Holbein the Younger was a jewelry designer, and while he clearly clings to the Renaissance belief that “more is more” when it comes to detail and adornment, his designs are quite beautiful.

Hans Holbein the Younger's  pendant designs. Image courtesy of the British Museum.

Hans Holbein the Younger’s pendant designs. Image courtesy of the British Museum.

Unfortunately, his designs are all we have. Whether they were ever executed back then is unknown.

Holbein Rides Again

Just as everything comes back into fashion (though, please God, not shoulder pads), Holbein’s designs experienced a literal revival beginning in the 1860’s. Victorian jewelers such as John Brogden and Carlo Giuliano.

Cameo Framed in the Renaissance Revival Style with Enamel and Pearls by Froment-Meurice c.1870. Photo Courtesy of Christie's.

Cameo Framed in the Renaissance Revival Style with Enamel and Pearls by Froment-Meurice c.1870.
Photo Courtesy of Christie’s.

Antique Holbeinesque Emerald and Natural Pearl Necklace. Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques

Antique Holbeinesque Emerald and Natural Pearl Necklace.
Photo Courtesy of Lang Antiques

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hallmarks of the Holbeinesque Revival Style were broaches or pendants, with a large central cabochon gem or cameo, and a dangling drop-shaped pearl or diamond-set lozenge (or circle, if you don’t want to think of cough drops). Add in a lot of decorative scrollwork, fancy engraved back, and voila, you have a kinda-Holbeinish piece of jewelry.

Getting your Holbein Fix

If you just can’t stand the idea that Holbein’s jewelry never made it to reality so you can pin it on Pinterest, never fear. There’s always Etsy.

That’s right. If you are looking for that perfect piece to complete your Renaissance costume or just to shock and awe at work, look no further than TreasuresforaQueen on Etsy.

Holbein Pendant from TreasuresforaQueen on Etsy.

Holbein Pendant from TreasuresforaQueen on Etsy.

Original Holbein sketch.

Original Holbein sketch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holbein Pendant from TreasuresforaQueen on Etsy.

Holbein Pendant from TreasuresforaQueen on Etsy.

Original Holbein sketch.

Original Holbein sketch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you’ll excuse, I have some online shopping to do.

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39 and 364 days.

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