Sunday, February 16, 2014

1790s Sparkles

Last night I went to the Birthnight Ball at Gatsby's Tavern in Alexandria, VA.  This is a ball set in 1793 and is celebrated to honor George Washington's birthday.  It's a really unusual year, costume-wise.  I mean, how often do you see events in the 1790s?

I did a bit of digging in fashion plates to see what kind of jewelry I should wear, and my favorite source for 1790s fashions is, without question, Gallery of Fashion.  

So far I haven't found any colored jewels in the Gallery of Fashion plates (thought by no means have I read every description- they may very well be there), but you see diamonds show up a lot.

Gallery of Fashion, April 1796. (Detail)

A partial description of this plate: "Diamond clasp upon the shoulder...upper bracelets and girdle of black velvet, set with Diamonds.  Diamond necklace and earrings."  Her hair is described as having "Diamond pin and black velvet loop, trimmed with Diamonds in the front."

Gallery of Fashion, February 1795 (Detail)
She is described as having a "Diamond necklace and earrings" and her hair has "A Diamond star in the front, and Diamond pins around the cap."

Gallery of Fashion, June 1795 (Detail). 
If you can get past her derpy face, the description on her plate includes: "Festoon Diamond necklace and Diamond earrings" while her hair is described as "ornamented with Diamonds."  I also adore her fan!                                  

Gallery of Fashion, June 1795 (Detail)
This lovely lady is wearing "two Diamond pins in the front" of her hair and "A Diamond necklace and Earrings."

Gallery of Fashion, March 1796 (Detail).

Not only does this lady have truly spectacular feathers, but she also has "A Diamond necklace" with a lovely pendant.

 I have some truly stunning vintage Czech glass "diamonds" so I decided to make a little demi-parure with a necklace and earrings.  I love these cushion octagon shapes, which look so "real" to me.   I wanted to have some festoons on it (those are the little loopy bits) or a pendant, but the truth is that I ran out of time.  Between having my hair done by the magnificent Jenny la Fleur and getting dressed for the ball, I threw together this necklace and earrings.  No time for fiddling with the fancy bits!

Inspired by so many of the women with their hair ornaments, I also wore a set of my 18th Century Aigrettes (Hair jewels), which are available in my Etsy shop at the link.

Overall I'm very pleased with the look of this outfit, and I think the choice of simple yet sparkling Diamond jewels really pulled it all together!  If you are interested in a set made of these stones, just contact me through my Etsy shop and I'll be more than happy to make you a custom set!

By the way, if you are interested in seeing the full plates and descriptions, I've posted them in their entirety on my fashion plate Tumbler.