The news of Waterloo has still not caught up with Ackermann’s publishing schedule, nor with its fashion plates, in this July 1815 issue. In fact, the space devoted to the text for the plates is a bit longer than typical. It includes not only descriptions of the two dresses featured, but also more general comments on current ladies’ fashions. We learn that bodices of cross or handkerchief fronts are currently the rage in morning and walking dress, especially when trimmed with quilled tull or ribbon. Fashionable colors this summer are “primrose, celestial blue, and evening primrose.” The higher hems seen in earlier 1815 plates also reflect current trends: “the length of the petticoat continues not to exceed meeting the top of the boot.”
I’m struck by the beautiful mantle of oh so fashionable celestial blue the lady of plate 4 has draped about her shoulders to keep her warm on what looks to be a rather windy day. Made of twilled silk, it is “richly embroidered at the ends in shaded silks, composing roses or lilies of the valley.” The lady’s stockings are made of “patent silk,” a term which I have not encountered before. Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles lists patent cord, patent flannel, patent twist, and others, but no “patent silk”…
Can you guess how the stripes of the evening dress of plate 5 were made? By interspersing “folds of satin of Pomona green and white” between tull. Was it made in a factory, I wonder, or did some seamstress spend hours and hours sewing rows of satin on that delicate hexagonal mesh? The ribbon adoring the waist and the sleeves is likewise trimmed with net edged with satin ribbon. Roses and appliquéd lilies of the valley head the gown’s blonde lace flounce. A striking dress, is it not?
Like last month’s needlework patterns, July’s also include a bouquet-like pattern. Are young ladies’ fancies turning to hints of summer love?