Is the lady in the first of this month’s fashion plates on holiday by the seaside? Or is she the daughter or wife of a naval officer, watching by the shore, hoping to catch sight of the ship that will carry her beloved family member back home? She looks rather disappointed; has she given up looking through the spyglass at the sailing ship in the distance to gaze instead off into the distances of her own imagination?
The dress she wears, a round robe of lilac or evening primrose sarsnet, features trimming at both hem and neck of a quilling of blond lace edged with chenille (perhaps to keep the lady warm against September’s cool ocean breezes?). A “French hat” of white and lilac satin keeps the winds from ruffling the lady’s face-framing curls.
The second plate features an “Evening Half-Dress,” presumably to be worn for an informal evening at home. Though the copy describes it as “a plain frock,” its long sleeves (inset with lace) and its full flounce of blond lace at the hem and its quilling of lace around the neckline certainly give it a far less than plain feel. The dress fabric is meant to be “striped sarsnet Italian net of peach-blossom colour,” but the pigment must have discolored; the dress looks more purplish black than pink.
The lady’s position highlights her unusual hair style: short full curls in a row several inches higher than the nape, and curls in rows down he sides of the head, with the crown combed flat and straight. Lots of time spent with the curling iron to achieve that look, no doubt.
It’s been several months, now, since Ackermann’s has included its former fabric samples. I’ll continue to reproduce the needle-work patterns in their place. Thistle flowers leaning in one direction, with leaf fronts tilted in the other, echo the feeling of the wind in the first plate, I think.