~ Things of the Past

★ The Comtesse di Castiglione’s Costume Ballgown

Gown for the Comtesse di Castiglione (LACMA)

★ Ok, so this isn’t strictly ‘Historical Fashion’ so much as historical costume, but I felt compelled to show it to you, because it’s so lovely and utterly striking. It’s a French-made gown of silk satin and velvet, created for Virginia Oldoini, the Comtesse di Castiglione, likely for a costume ball. See my dilemma? Including anything that was designed specifically as a costume, not as clothing, presents so many problems in terms of satorial history. I mean, can you imagine someone two-hundred years from now looking at the average short-skirted, low-necklined, nylon, sparkly, over-the-top party costume from today, and thinking that it’s representative of our everyday attire? Yeah, exactly. So I hope you can understand why I was reluctant to label this as such. However, costumes do form part of the history of clothing, so as long as it’s made clear that this gorgeous gown isn’t representative of normal attire, I think it’s fine.

Anyway, enough of my ethical wranglings over historical integrity, and back to the main subject. Isn’t it lovely? Currently held in the collections of LACMA, it dates from 1861-67, and features an amazing swag of handmade, fabric grapevine, draped ever-so-artfully down the front. Can you imagine wearing something so pretty for a costume party nowadays?!

Much love,

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