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Old 16th December 2005   #1
M. Lopez
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Default Victorian Vogue: ''The figure was curvaceous''

I just came across a marvellous article about the rediscovery of Victorian fashion that is taking place right now. Here's the URL:

http://www.dcexaminer.com/articles/...16victorian.prt

The article describes some of the pieces that make up the current Victorian look:


"Lace blouses, velvet and brocade jackets, skirts with ruffles or bustles, ribbon trims and accessories such as cameo earrings, jet and pearl necklaces "


And more interestingly, it offers some suggestions about why this trend is so popular. The article all but comes out and acknowledges that there is an aesthetic restoration happening in today's culture:


"What makes women melt at the sight of such sweetness? Jennifer Ogle, associate professor in the department of design and merchandising at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said the Victorian vibe is catching on for several reasons.

"There's an emphasis on nostalgia -- we're harking back to an earlier time with its positive aesthetics and sentiments," Ogle said. "It's also a reaction to the fact that in recent years we've had more simplistic styles for men and women that were androgynous. So there's a reaction to that, a turn back to more feminine clothing." "



The article also specifically mentions that these styles were specifically designed for fuller figures, AND it equates femininity and voluptuousness:


"Their clothes emphasized the hips and bustline, says Kerri Atter, curator of Denver's Molly Brown House Museum. "It was a very feminine look. The figure was curvaceous." "


I love the continuing evolution of the New Femininity in fashion. It's so much more interesting than decades of nothing but career wear! Curvy women have never had it so good - at least, not in my lifetime.

In case the above link disappears at some point, here's the bulk of the text:


.....................................


Fashion - Victorian vogue

By Suzanne S. Brown
The Denver Post


It's fashionable to deride Victorian style as over-ornamented, cloyingly sentimental and uptight. But it's also unabashedly feminine, and that's why a new generation of women is falling for its charms.

Lace blouses, velvet and brocade jackets, skirts with ruffles or bustles, ribbon trims and accessories such as cameo earrings, jet and pearl necklaces are showing up at holiday parties.

Lindsay Lohan models a high-necked Valentino blouse on the cover of the winter issue of Teen Vogue. Rachel Zoe, who styled Lohan for the cover and works with other young celebrities like Nicole Richie, said she finds the look "very Victorian and of the moment."

Designer Jessica McClintock revisited the era because she appreciates both its history and femininity.

"My great-great-grandparents came from England and Wales," McClintock said in a phone interview from her San Francisco headquarters. "I made clothes with Victorian details and went through a phase of doing blouses in the 1970s. So many women have come into my stores and asked why I don't do them again."

While best known for her prom dresses, McClintock said she and her son and business partner, Scott, were looking for ways to expand the definition of special-occasion wear when they came up with the idea of Victorian-inspired separates.

"I wanted to offer other choices for dressing up. I live in the city where Gap and Levi's are based, and I know how much Americans are into casual clothes and jeans, so I experimented with jackets, skirts and blouses they could wear in a very modern way."...

Such manufacturers as Necessary Objects and retailers like Anthropologie are on a similar track, offering jackets with peplums, blouses with high necks and such combinations of fabric as lace, crochet and Swiss dot.

What makes women melt at the sight of such sweetness? Jennifer Ogle, associate professor in the department of design and merchandising at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, said the Victorian vibe is catching on for several reasons.

"There's an emphasis on nostalgia -- we're harking back to an earlier time with its positive aesthetics and sentiments," Ogle said. "It's also a reaction to the fact that in recent years we've had more simplistic styles for men and women that were androgynous. So there's a reaction to that, a turn back to more feminine clothing."

Women entering the work force world in the 1980s adopted a masculine style of dress to fit in, Ogle added. Two decades later, "women have come so far along, maybe they don't need to do that to be taken seriously any more," she said.

Women are picking and choosing the elements of Victoriana they want to adopt. A bustier can be worn as an outer garment rather than be hidden under an outfit. A velvet jacket teams with jeans and heels for the office.

"To borrow from the past is a way to add uniqueness to your wardrobe," Ogle said. "In the Victorian era, there was one way to look. Women today have much more variety."

The weight of history

By Suzanne S. Brown
The Denver Post

The fashionable Victorian woman cut quite a figure in the high-necked, full-fronted, bustle-backed styles of the day.

Her outfit could weigh 11 pounds, five of them in undergarments alone. She needed a maid to help lace her corset. Her hats were accented with stuffed birds and ostrich plumes, her neck encircled in velvet ribbons and cameos.

"The idea was that women were fragile and the emphasis should be on their femininity and modesty," says Jennifer Ogle, assistant professor at Colorado State University. "They were expected to marry and raise children, and that was reflected in their dress."

Their clothes emphasized the hips and bustline, says Kerri Atter, curator of Denver's Molly Brown House Museum. "It was a very feminine look. The figure was curvaceous."

Heavy ornamentation was also the rule. "It's similar to what you see in their houses. It's rich, elaborate, decorated," Atter says.
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Old 16th December 2005   #2
Emily
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Default Re: Victorian Vogue: ''The figure was curvaceous''

Oh my, when I read the title of this post, I thought, "Does this mean that there is going to be an edition of Vogue magazine, but with Victorian aesthetics?"

If there ever were such a thing, I would be the first person to subscribe.

In fact, wouldn't that be the perfect title for a plus-size version of Vogue: "Victorian Vogue," or possibly "Classical Vogue"; or, my favorite, "Romantic Vogue."

Like so much of the "Romantic Revival," I think these styles are ideal for plus-size figures. And yet I haven't seen as many examples of this in plus-size fashion as one might expect. I hope the offerings get better soon.

There have been a few at Torrid, and more recently, I noticed two Victorian styles at Nordstrom.

I particularly like the fact that the article noted how the Victorian styles "emphasized the hips." So many women feel self-conscious about these curves, and yet in all other centuries (before androgyny was imposed -- as the article notes), they were viewed as epitomizing womanly beauty.

Last edited by HSG : 11th December 2006 at 23:27. Reason: Invalid URLs deleted
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Old 17th December 2005   #3
HSG
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Default Re: Victorian Vogue: ''The figure was curvaceous''

Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Lopez
"There's an emphasis on nostalgia -- we're harking back to an earlier time with its positive aesthetics and sentiments," Ogle said.

This is an especially encouraging statement, because it acknowledges:

(a) that the aesthetics of the past were positive--not just "size-positive" (although they were certainly that), but positive in general, i.e., life-affirming, pleasurable, and in harmony with essential human desires;

(b) that the "sentiments" of the past were positive as well, i.e., that the beliefs and value-systems of the past were similarly healthy and ennobling; and

(c) that the "aesthetics and sentiments" of the present are, by contrast, resoundingly negative, and soul-destroying.

In all of these assertions, the article is correct. The war against beauty of the last half-century was nothing less than a concerted attempt at social engineering, an endeavour to suppress essential human beliefs and values, and to distort human beings into rootless automata designed to function within a soulless, utilitarian state.

The imposition on women of an androgynous standard of appearance, of dress, even of behaviour, was expressly designed to eradicate feminine beauty, and with it, femininity itself. The relentless push into the workforce, the constant promotion of diet-starvation and exercise-torture, was a calculated effort to set women against their own natural inclinations.

By contrast, when we compare the aesthetics of the Victorian age (or other bygone eras), we find that they are warm and welcoming. They are in tune with human sensibilities; they instinctively "feel right." One cannot help but respond to the opulence of the styles. Yes, they are elaborate--intoxicatingly so. One enjoys looking at them, the way that one enjoys losing oneself in a Pre-Raphaelite painting, or admiring the forest-like detail in the stonework of a Gothic cathedral.

Far from being "uptight," Victorian aesthetics luxuriate in artistic abandon. And in the faces of Victorian beauties, one does not see the stressed-out, wearied, haggard look that is emblematic of women's life in the modern world, which pulls them in many different directions at once. Rather, one sees contentment. One sees women who never denied themselves any pleasures, who enjoyed food, fashion, and life. They exhibit the natural glow of health--a well-nourished appearance that, today, is only seen (if at all) during pregnancy.

The rediscovery of Victorian and other Romantic styles proves that humanity has an essential yearning for beauty, which will not be denied. Let us hope that the revival of these fashions helps to bring about a renewed appreciation of the cultures in which they thrived, and perhaps even a desire to incorporate those timeless values into contemporary life.

Lillian Russell, belle of the Victorian century, from a contemporary engraving. Note the harmony between the delicate, lacy attire, the masses of heavy tresses, and the heady, decadent fullness of her facial features.

The aesthetics of the past were about enjoying life, as much as the aesthetics of the modern world are about regulating it.

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Old 18th December 2005   #4
Kaitlynn
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Default Re: Victorian Vogue: ''The figure was curvaceous''

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSG
And in the faces of Victorian beauties, one does not see the stressed-out, wearied, haggard look that is emblematic of women's life in the modern world, which pulls them in many different directions at once. Rather, one sees contentment. One sees women who never denied themselves any pleasures, who enjoyed food, fashion, and life.

When I look at that Lillian Russell image, that's exactly what I see in her expression: pleasure, delight, satisfaction. It's SO different from the STRESS that today's women's magazines are always writing about.

I think a lot of women have been deceived about past vs. present. When that article says that "women were expected to marry and raise children" in Victorian times, maybe that wasn't all bad. I just read a great article about the fact that a lot of women today are getting sick of slaving in the workforce, and are leaving their jobs, and increasingly choosing home life:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gender/st...1232242,00.html

Some of the passages really spoke to me:


'There's a general rejection of the Eighties and Nineties work ethic, the whole Nicola Horlick phenomenon and the consumerist agenda that went with it. This has made women more confident about valuing home and family life and deciding that they want to fit their work around it, rather than fit their home life around work. All the data show us that this is not what women want to do any more. They have tried it and found it difficult, stressful and ultimately unsatisfying. These women have no difficulty in regarding themselves as equal with men, they simply have different goals and do not feel they have to prove themselves through work any more.'


It quotes a lot of women as saying how much prefer their freedom from the workforce:


'Doing well at work is some people's definition of success,' she says. 'But not mine. Not any more.'


'I used to be really bad-tempered when I got home. I was tired and I would be vile. Now the children and I are in sync with each other and it's much better.


'All my brain time used to be taken up with work...Now I have got thinking time for myself.'


I have to agree with the article that M. Lopez posted- there are a lot of Victorian "aesthetics and sentiments" that are more positive than modern ones. It would be nice if we could bring back some of that beauty and harmony and contentment to today's world.
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Old 19th December 2005   #5
MelanieW
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Default Re: Victorian Vogue: ''The figure was curvaceous''

Whenever I see pictures of Lillian Russell, I always think: There was a woman who knew that "Sexy Girls Have Dessert" over a hundred years before this became a modern advertising slogan. She is just gorgeous.

And thank you for linking to that article, Kaitlynn. I agreed with it 100%. Another passage I liked was this:


"Education is never a waste. I don't see going to college as something you do just to get a job. I see it as something you do to enable you to live a good life. And just because you're not working does not mean you are not living."


Thinking about Victorian "aesthetics and sentiments", this may sound farfetched, but when you wear these styles, I think you always feel a little bit different about yourself. You feel more graceful. And I think other people respond to you differently as well. They seem a little more polite. I like it.

For more examples of Victorian vogue, Nordstrom has a beautiful lace skirt that looks very Victorian to me:

http://store.nordstrom.com/product/...True&pfindid=13

If you look at the how detailed it is, it does resemble the Gothic style, like the most intricate stained-glass windows. And Kiyonna.com has a cover with Melissa looking very elegant and sumptuous in a lace dress:

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