1. The photographs Lucile had taken of her ‘mannequins’ in the early 1910s may appear tame by our modern standards, but at the time they were border-line scandalous.
Lucile did not shy away from using sex appeal to sell her clothing. Her seductively (for the time period at least) posed models were the forerunners of pretty much every fashion campaign of the last 100 years.
Interestingly enough, sex appeal appears to have run in Lucile’s family. Her sister, Elinor Glyn, was an author who pioneered women’s erotic fiction and is widely credited with introducing the concept of “It”.

    The photographs Lucile had taken of her ‘mannequins’ in the early 1910s may appear tame by our modern standards, but at the time they were border-line scandalous.

    Lucile did not shy away from using sex appeal to sell her clothing. Her seductively (for the time period at least) posed models were the forerunners of pretty much every fashion campaign of the last 100 years.

    Interestingly enough, sex appeal appears to have run in Lucile’s family. Her sister, Elinor Glyn, was an author who pioneered women’s erotic fiction and is widely credited with introducing the concept of “It”.

  2. By 1910 Lucile’s popularity and business had grown so such an extent that she was able to open a store in New York City.
Her coming to America was greatly heralded in the press, and she was soon writing a weekly syndicated newspaper column which appeared in papers across the county.
This full page article announcing the opening of her New York store and promoting her as the “Greatest Creator of Fashions in the World” was published on February 2, 1910.

    By 1910 Lucile’s popularity and business had grown so such an extent that she was able to open a store in New York City.

    Her coming to America was greatly heralded in the press, and she was soon writing a weekly syndicated newspaper column which appeared in papers across the county.

    This full page article announcing the opening of her New York store and promoting her as the “Greatest Creator of Fashions in the World” was published on February 2, 1910.

  3. Lucy Christina, Lady Duff-Gordon, more commonly known by her professional name Lucile, was a milliner, couture dressmaker, fashion trend-setter and all around very interesting woman.
She also happened to be a passenger on the RMS Titanic when it sank 100 years ago today.
So today I am focusing on Lucile.

    Lucy Christina, Lady Duff-Gordon, more commonly known by her professional name Lucile, was a milliner, couture dressmaker, fashion trend-setter and all around very interesting woman.

    She also happened to be a passenger on the RMS Titanic when it sank 100 years ago today.

    So today I am focusing on Lucile.

  4. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, as well as the re-release of James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic. Despite the many reservations I have at Mr. Cameron’s decision to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of 1,514 men, women and children with a Super 3D Extravaganza!, I cannot deny the profound effect the film has had on my life.
I often refer to Titanic as my gateway drug to history. I was 10 when the film was originally released and while I had always shown some degree of interest in history, Titanic was the first thing that made me truly curious about the past. While other people were giggling over the love story and the boobies I couldn’t get enough of the history. The ship itself, the five course dinners, the way people moved and acted, and yes, the costumes.
With the internet still in its infancy I headed to the library and brought home every book related to Edwardian society, Transatlantic shipping and costume history I could carry. Every penny of my allowance went to buying obscure books I couldn’t find at the library and seeing the movie again and again (four times in all by the end of its first theatrical run) to pick up new details with what I had learned.
My Kate Winslet fangirling also led me to see Emma Thompson’s brilliant 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility, which got me into Jane Austen, which threw me ever deeper fashion history.
So, despite his questionable money making decisions, I guess I should probably thank James Cameron for making the movie that inadvertently set me on the path I’m on today.
P.S. I’ve had a couple people ask me recently how I got into fashion history, so there you go. :D 
P.P.S. This is leading to a Titanic-related fashion spam, just give me a bit ;)

    This week marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, as well as the re-release of James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic. Despite the many reservations I have at Mr. Cameron’s decision to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of 1,514 men, women and children with a Super 3D Extravaganza!, I cannot deny the profound effect the film has had on my life.

    I often refer to Titanic as my gateway drug to history. I was 10 when the film was originally released and while I had always shown some degree of interest in history, Titanic was the first thing that made me truly curious about the past. While other people were giggling over the love story and the boobies I couldn’t get enough of the history. The ship itself, the five course dinners, the way people moved and acted, and yes, the costumes.

    With the internet still in its infancy I headed to the library and brought home every book related to Edwardian society, Transatlantic shipping and costume history I could carry. Every penny of my allowance went to buying obscure books I couldn’t find at the library and seeing the movie again and again (four times in all by the end of its first theatrical run) to pick up new details with what I had learned.

    My Kate Winslet fangirling also led me to see Emma Thompson’s brilliant 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility, which got me into Jane Austen, which threw me ever deeper fashion history.

    So, despite his questionable money making decisions, I guess I should probably thank James Cameron for making the movie that inadvertently set me on the path I’m on today.

    P.S. I’ve had a couple people ask me recently how I got into fashion history, so there you go. :D 

    P.P.S. This is leading to a Titanic-related fashion spam, just give me a bit ;)

  5. This silk blouse from Elsa Schiaparelli’s Spring-Summer 1940 collection, in addition to being gorgeous, is also a bold political statement.
Bearing a fleur-de-lis, a traditional symbol of France, and the Latin phrase “AUT VINCERE AUT MORI”, literally “conquer or die”.
This blouse was a striking statement against the Nazi conquest during the Battle of France. And a moving show of support by Schiaparelli for her adopted homeland, which would fall to the Nazi invasion within months.

    This silk blouse from Elsa Schiaparelli’s Spring-Summer 1940 collection, in addition to being gorgeous, is also a bold political statement.

    Bearing a fleur-de-lis, a traditional symbol of France, and the Latin phrase “AUT VINCERE AUT MORI”, literally “conquer or die”.

    This blouse was a striking statement against the Nazi conquest during the Battle of France. And a moving show of support by Schiaparelli for her adopted homeland, which would fall to the Nazi invasion within months.

  6. Schiaparelli’s 1937 “Lobster Dress” was the result of a collaboration with famed surrealist Salvador Dali. The lobster painted on the dress by Dali himself was inspired by his 1936 “Lobster Telephone”.

    The dress was famously worn by Wallis Simpson (below) in a series of photographs taken during her engagement to the recently abdicated King Edward VIII.

  7. Maria Leopoldine of Austria, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, was painted by Lorenzo Lippi in 1649 while pregnant with what would be her only child. She died in childbirth the same year, at the age of seventeen.
The sides of the bodice Maria Leopoldine’s gown have been raised significantly from the styles of the time to allow space for her pregnant figure.

    Maria Leopoldine of Austria, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III, was painted by Lorenzo Lippi in 1649 while pregnant with what would be her only child. She died in childbirth the same year, at the age of seventeen.

    The sides of the bodice Maria Leopoldine’s gown have been raised significantly from the styles of the time to allow space for her pregnant figure.

  8. Charles Beaubrun painted this portrait of Anne of Austria in 1638 when she was 8 months pregnant with the future Louis XIV.
I think Anne’s dress is an extremely interesting approach to maternity fashion. Rather than simply altering the waistline, they expanded (and presumably added some creative padding to) the entire dress, allowing the dress to keep the fashionable lines of the time.

    Charles Beaubrun painted this portrait of Anne of Austria in 1638 when she was 8 months pregnant with the future Louis XIV.

    I think Anne’s dress is an extremely interesting approach to maternity fashion. Rather than simply altering the waistline, they expanded (and presumably added some creative padding to) the entire dress, allowing the dress to keep the fashionable lines of the time.

  9. A few notes on inflation…

    I’ve received so many comments regarding the price of clothing in the Sears catalog ads I’ve posted recently that I thought it might be a good idea to clear a few things up.

    First and foremost…

    Clothing was not cheaper in the past. In fact it was generally quite the opposite. Prices for the least expensive, mass-produced clothing in the 1910s would be roughly equivalent to what you would expect to pay at a high end department store today.

    As an example: In the mid-1910s an average woman’s coat from the Sears catalog would run you upwards of $400 when adjusted for inflation. Higher quality Sears coats could top $1,000. If you were looking for a designer coat or one imported from Paris you could easily expect to drop $5,000+ for a fairly basic model.

    Two major reasons for the higher cost of clothing in the past were the absence of artificial/man-made fabrics and the lack of the cheap overseas labor which is so widely used today (this was enforced by ridiculously high import taxes on clothing and on fashion materials and accessories).

    I can go into this in more detail in the future if there is any interest, but for now I thought I’d just put the basic information out there for you.

    Secondly…

    With the exception of a brief period following the Civil War, the purchasing power of the dollar stayed at a modern equivalent of roughly $20-$25 for most of the 19th and early 20th century. This means that to roughly estimate the price of anything thing from that time period (approx. 1830-1915) you can simply add a zero and double it. 

    A quick example for those bad at math (most notably myself): Using a $1.00 little girl’s dress from this 1915 Sears catalog page I posted. If you add a zero it becomes $10.00. Double it, it becomes $20.00, which would be your final price roughly adjusted for inflation. Pretty reasonably priced, even for today. (Although it is worth noting that it is among the least expensive dresses available.)

    Just to be clear… the add a zero and double it technique should only be used to give you a very rough idea of the price. If you would like a more exact conversion or need to convert something outside of the 1830-1915 era I would suggest using this site, which has a very lovely and easy to use inflation calculator.

    I think in the future when I post something with a listed price I am may include the inflation adjusted price just for reference and to prevent any confusion. :)

  10. Lucile (12), Mary (8) and Dorothy Fleming (1) sit with their cousin Laurence Foster (6) on their Uncle’s porch in Albion, Michigan in 1896.
This photo album is one of my favorite things I own.

    Lucile (12), Mary (8) and Dorothy Fleming (1) sit with their cousin Laurence Foster (6) on their Uncle’s porch in Albion, Michigan in 1896.

    This photo album is one of my favorite things I own.