Saturday, June 9, 2012

La Belle Epoque and Edwardian Eras ... Sewing Inspiration from 1910

First, a little education and edification; then, a bit of indulgence.

Edwardian Era:  Strictly speaking, this is the period during the reign of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom from 1901 to 1910.   I don't think I am alone in thinking of this period as extending into the second decade of the 20th century.  For me the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912 puts paid to the era.  It seemed the harbinger of great changes ... but that is just my opinion.

Le Belle Epoque:  "A period of high artistic or cultural development," as define by Merriam-Webster, it began in 1890  and continued through 1914.  A time of relative peace and great industrial strides, many consider it a "Golden Age" and the last moments of innocence before the onslaught of World War I and the "modern age."

I love this period when almost anything seemed possible.  As I was searching for inspiration, I somehow settled on 1910, and stayed.
Poiret's "Oriental" Influenced Fashion
Not only do I love the wonderful draping and the range of dress styles, the hats are a sight to behold.  And speaking of hats ...

Royal Ascot 1910
The hats! The coats!
The dapper gent!

Princess Louise with her daughters, Princesses Maud and Alexandra

Three Ladies courtesy of La Costumeuse.
I love this photo because it so clearly shows how strictly fashion was dictated by age.

Far left, a girl before her 16th birthday.
Far right, a young woman between 16 and 21 years-old.
Center, a woman over 21 and, most likely, married.

What I find most interesting is how the clothes on the younger women seem to foreshadow the fashions of the coming years.

Thank you, Jennifer of Ohio is My Dwelling Place, for letting me know who these lovely ladies were.

1910 definitely seemed to be a time when fashion - and women - were on the brink of change.

Natalina "Lina" Cavalier

Less extreme than the silhouettes of the previous decade, her gown, posted on Au Feminin still emphasizes hourglass figure and perfect posture of the time.  I love the geometric pattern on the bodice and sleeves.  I wonder if it was done with fabric or beads ... or a combination.

Lina Cavalieri was a renowned opera singer in her day and Pretty Petals wrote a lovely post about her life with some wonderful photos.

Actress Kitty Gordon's evening gown is a wonderful example of the transition from old style to new, with touches of both.  I love the earl beading.  Dame Doudicca posted this photo and a nice description of this era in women's fashion.

This lady of 1910 seems so much more relaxed than the more tightly corseted ladies.  The dress looks fun and I love the hat!  I have trouble believing she's wearing an S-curve corset.  She looks too relaxed.

Another photo found on Les Garconnettes.

Prince (and psychoanalyst) Marie Bonapaparte

I love the sleeve treatment and tiara.  Both seem to be a nod to one of her new homes, Greece.  From her posture, I'm sure her corset was more than tight enough.

I had to include some bridal wear in this post. This is Lady Violet Manner, whose veil is absolutely beautiful brocaded with white velvet.  Apparently she had her and her husbands family crests embroidered on them ... the day before the ceremony.  I wish I had a better view of the dress, which was covered in lace. 

This photo was published in "Every Woman's Encyclopaedia" which can be found at Chest of Books.  You can read a description of this an other gowns of the time as well.

Here is another wedding gown from 1910 in satin and lace. I am not a fan of the square train that was so popular at the time but I still love the simplicity of this dress.

 Here is a detail of the bodice and the shawl sleeves.

Thanks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we have many wonderful examples of fashion through the ages.  I'll only include a couple in this post.

Gown by the Mrs. Osborn Company

This Gown is as beautiful going as coming.
French Gown 1909-1911

I'm not sure this gown was a product of 1910 but, as the Met lists it as being from the years 1909-1911, I thought I'd sneek it in.

It looks as if it may have been inspired  by both Greek and  Roman art.

The peacock theme is almost over the
top but I don't care.  Th combination of charcoal and turquoise is one of my favorites.  The two peacocks are down in such detail and seems both elegant and fun.

This is not in the Met's collection and it is not vintage.  It is a recreation of the 1910 pattern found in "Patterns of Fashion 2."  I think this is a wonderful and inspiring dress. The dressmaker's attention to detail in the beadwork admirable.  The entire post can be found at the Costume blog.

Well, I'm worn out but inspired.  What inspires you?

Happy Sewing!

Okay, I couldn't resist a p.s. because when I found this photo, it just made me smile.  What were they talking about?  What were they eating?  How did they make those wonderful bows in their hair?

Three Girls on Street by Hine Levis - 1910


  1. Love your post. This is one of my favorite eras of fashion. The "Three Ladies" are Princess Royal Louise, daughter of Edward(ian)and her two daughters. I'm just such a Royal-geek!

    1. Jennifer,

      Thanks so much for letting me know. I saw the resemblance but didn't want to guess on my post. I wish I were as much of a "Royal-geek" as you.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Hello
    Good piece of data that you've received on this web site article. Appreciate it!

  3. Fab pictures, really inspirational!

    By the way, I've moved my blog to - do pay a visit!

    Miss P xx

  4. Very vintage pictures yet very inspirational. Nice resources.Thanks for sharing this.

  5. This collection is awesome! The women is so elegant in beautiful pattern of dress. Thanks for sharing!
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  6. Where can I find sewing patterns for this era? I found one on folkwear, but it was limited to one dress type.