What catches my eye in May 1813’s fashion plates are the accessories, at least in Plate 37’s “Evening Dress.” Over the celestial blue satin slip lies not only a “polonaise long robe of white crape, or gossamer net, trim entirely round with lack and knotted beading,” but also a “Grecian scarf, a pale buff color, embroidered with shaded morone silks in Grecian characters.” One cannot make them out from this plate, but I do wonder just what “characters” the embroiderer chose to feature—Greek letters? Figures similar to those found on ancient Greek pottery? The novel I am currently working on features some rather racy Greek poetry in translation; can you imagine a bluestocking embroidering something similarly scandalous on her scarf?
The wearer of the Evening Dress also wears “a double neck-chain and heart of Oriental gold, inclosing an amulet.” Is there something special about “Oriental” gold? And what kind of amulet does that heart of gold “inclose”? Lots of potential for secret messages and codes here, don’t you think?
I think the most amusing adornment this month is in Plate 36—the very tiny dog rushing in from the right-hand side of the page, eager to greet its mistress. Do you think she will be able to set down her book and scoop it up before it jumps all over her clean white gown?
This month’s fabric samples are all intended for domestic or morning wear, including a “Smolensko striped imperial washing silk.” Was said silk imported from Smolensk, one of the cities that Napoleon had invaded during his ill-fated invasion of Russia a year earlier? Purchasing such a product would be a sign of patriotism, would it not?
The issue also includes another striking needlework pattern. I’m a needlepoint gal myself, but these patterns look like they might be for either embroidery or crewl work.