Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Victorian Fancy Dress: Photography

Halloween - that greatest time of the year - is over, but not completely. I have another costume party to go to this week and so I will keep posting about fancy dress for a bit longer, hopefully entertaining all those who are not over Halloween just yet.

Remember that post with a Victorian fancy dress fashion plate where one of the ladies was dresses as what I dubbed a photo camera? Well, it turns out that she was not dressed as 'a photo camera' but as 'photography'.

Source: Godey’s, 1866  
This is what the 1896 edition of Fancy Dress Described has to say about a very similar costume:

"A green gauze dress; round the skirt, nestling in the bouillonnes a row of photographs; a scarf of the silk draped across the skirt. with medallion photographs at intervals, all bordered with green galon; the bertha of the low bodice fastened at the front, back, and on the shoulders with them; a cap in the form of a camera; snap shot carried in the hand."   
In fact, one brave lady chose to wear this it to a fancy dress ball and, today, we know about this thanks to that very same technological advancement celebrated by her costume. 

Source: McCord Museum

Miss Stevenson attended a ball in Montreal in 1865 at the Theater Royal dressed as 'Photography'. Since this dress is almost an exact copy of the one in the fashion plate, we can assume that it is also bright green. The lady has photographs on her skirt, bracelet, fan and eve her shoes. The crowning glory of this costume is a camera-shaped hat on her head that comes with a veil to mimic the dark cloth of a plate camera.

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