Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Victorian Fancy Dress: Electric Light

People during the Victorian era seemed to have had an uncanny ability to turn any abstract concept, any technological innovation or idea into a fancy dress costume. Case in point, 'Electric light' or 'Electricity'.

This is how Fancy Dress Described,1896 describes 'Electricity' fancy dress:

"Electric blue satin, covered with silver zigzag flashes; silver cords are wound about the neck,arms, and waist; to typify the electric coils. Bodice of blue satin draped with silver and crepe de chine; wings at the back; an electric light in the hair. A staff carried in the hand with coils encircling the globe which surmounts it."

Source: La Mode Illustree, France 1891
It is clear that this lovely dress has inspired the costume worn by Mrs. Alice Vanderbilt, at a fancy dress ball given by her sister-in-law, Alva Vanderbilt in 1883.

Mrs. Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt as Electric Light, March 26, 1883
With 1200 guests, $3 million dollars spent and expectations of a Communist attack, this was certainly the social event of the season. On the occasion, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt wore this pale yellow and shell-pink satin dress embroidered with tinsel, gilt and silver thread. It came with a Prussian blue velvet train embroidered with gold. The lovely costume was a gift of Countess Laszlo Szechenyi. 

I couldn't find any contemporary pictures of this dress, but The Dreamstress has a whole post dedicated to it with the photos she took when visiting the Museum of the City of New York. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog also I want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.
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