Friday, September 14, 2012

Dress of the Week: Silk Pelisse

We've been having some rather cold and rainy days this week, so I feel obliged to dig into my closet and bring out some warmer clothes. Likes this pretty silk pelisse, for instance.

Pelisse, silk, England, 1820. Source: Victoria & Albert Museum  

Place: England
Date: 1820
Artist/maker: Unknown
Materials and Techniques: Silk, lined with silk and cotton, hand-sewn
This beautiful piece of outwear is called a pelisse robe. It is essentially a dress in a style of a coat, which was often worn for walking or paying visits. Unlike most dresses of the time, pelisse robe opens in the front (like a coat would) and has a wide collar. By the 1820s the waists went up pretty high, and the silhouette has changed from what was popular at the beginning of the 19th century. Fashionable ladies adopted a more A-line shape. In this particular pelisse, the hem is padded to accentuate that shape.    

The most remarkable thing about the gown is that what appears to be embroidery on the bodice, sleeves and along the skirt is actually very elaborate piping (embellishment technique that involves thin rolls of fabric) arranged in a flower pattern. The sleeves are decorated with short puffed oversleeves of stepped bands, faced and lined with satin, and wristbands that fasten with a button. The skirt is slightly gored with a gathering at the back. The collar is stiffened and has a little vent at the back, trimmed with a tassel. The robe is lined with blue silk and fastens with loops and concealed buttons.

This is by far one of the prettiest walking dresses I have seen. The piping makes for gorgeous decorative element and the coffee and cream colored silk is simply divine. I shall also note that the A-shap skirt is much more flattering than the fashions of the preceding and has not yet passed into the over-trimmed nightmare of Victoriana. My only concern would be ruining this lovely silk pelisse in mud and rain of early September.   

Do you have a favorite walking dress? Please share!

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