Mrs. Gill of Cork-Street, Burlington Gardens, continues to rule the dress design pages of Ackermann’s Repository for 1816. May’s entries, as were April’s, both favor white for their gowns, Plate 28’s evening dress made of satin and lace, Plate 29’s carriage dress of cambric and muslin. The evening gown’s starkness is lightened by tiny dots of color in the form of “Coloured stones” (“amethysts and emeralds are most in favour,” our correspondent notes below in the “General Observations on Fashion and Dress”). Here they are are used not only in a necklace, but as ornaments on the sleeves and bodice. I don’t recall seeing such stone ornaments in earlier Ackermann’s prints.
Our correspondent reports that the carriage dress depicted in plate 29 is “the most elegant carriage dress of the months and the only novelty worth mentioning hat that appeared in the carriage costume.” The description of the dress doesn’t really say what’s so novel about it, though. Is it the robe which overlays the dress, made in the chemisette style The blue ribbon bows which ornament the sleeve between elbow and wrist? Or the “elegant ruffle” which edges the end of each sleeve?
Highlights from “General Observations on Fashion and Dress” include the news that pelisses continue to be “more fashionable than any thing else” in promenade costumes; that green sarsnet is most in favour for casual dress; Irish satin even more in favour for dinner dress; and the robe à la Bergère (shepherdess) is most in favour for full dress. We also hear about the introduction of a new type of stay, the corset des Grâces, which, our correspondent claims, “possesses the double advantage of improving the shape, and conducing towards the preservation of the health; no compressions, no pushing the form out of its natural proportions; it allows the most perfect ease and freedom to every motion, while, at the same time, it gives that support to the frame, which delicate women find absolutely necessary.” I couldn’t find any images online of this particular corset style; anyone have any books on corset history that show what it might have looked like?
In London, May’s fashionable colors are reported to be green, lilac, azure, primrose, straw, and wild rose.
May’s edition also includes a lengthy account of French fashions, including the news that that not much has changed in recent months with the exception of changes in fabric and hats. The Parisian belle has set aside cloth and velvet for the spring, exchanging them for the lighter fabrics of sarsnet, satin, India muslin, and white spotted silk. High-crowned chapeaux and cornettes, which had begun to decline in fashion, have once again become extremely fashionable. Some are colored, but most are white, made either from satin, or chip and blond put very full over satin. Court ladies, loyal royalists, are reported to wear rings featuring a miniature of the French king, “which is always placed on the fore-finger of the left hand, as being the one nearest the heart.”
White is the color of choice in Paris, although there is some request for hyacinth, jonquil, rose-color, lilac, and green.
Leaves dominate May’s muslin patterns: