Chintz in the Fries museum – color & pattern

Last weekend I finally got a chance to visit the current exhibition on chintz in the Fries museum, ‘Sits – Katoen in bloei’, or ‘Chintz – Cotton in bloom’. It was stunning! I had to force myself to look at one thing at a time, because as soon as I turned around I’d see so much more loveliness. We went on Friday and saw the exhibition, and then enjoyed a lovely day with talks on Saturday, organized by the Dutch costume society. This included a very interesting talk by the curator of the exhibition Gieneke Arnolli, and we took the opportunity to visit again after her talk and see some things we’d missed first time! (To all my Dutch readers: it’s definitely recommended, I’d go again for a 3rd if I lived closer by. It’s running until September 11th)

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Seriously, I could look at this all day

 

Because I love chintz (see this post for a very extensive history and background), I’m going to split my blog about the exhibition into two parts. I’ve learned some more things, and because I now have loads of photos of the lovely chintz items I can illustrate this post with! Click the image for a larger version. I’ll also work on uploading all my images and link to those in the next post, as there’s way too much for even two blog posts.

For this first post: a little more about the use of color in chintz, and the various patterns.

The colors and patterns or chintz are made on bleached cotton, making white the first color you see in chintz. Lines are made in a black/dark brown color. Aside from this, the main colors are often made with meekrap (red) and indigo (blue), and you see shades of red and blue a lot. Additionally, purple sometimes occurs, as well as yellow and green.

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Beautiful wall-hanging with tree patterns and a wide array of colors.

Nowadays, we think of chintz mainly having a white ground, with colored flowers and leafs. But that’s quite a western view on chintz. Many chintzes for the Asian market were made with a read ground. In contrast, the English (and I believe also the American) market greatly favored white-ground chintz, and you barely see any colored grounds. Although the majority of Dutch chintz also has a white ground,  In the Netherlands, you see a relatively high amount of chintzes with colored ground. Mostly red, but also blue, green, purple, dark brown and even ‘spotted’ ground. I personally love these, and the museum had some lovely examples.

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Young girl’s jacket in red ground chintz.

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Dark brown ground on a girl’s dress

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Blue ground sleeves

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Spotted ground on a jacket. This shows the pleats in the back

 

 

Interesting to note is that the colored ground chintz is mostly used for blankets/spreads, sleeves, baby caps and jackets. Skirts of chintz are most commonly white. All the sunhat linings in this exhibition were also with a white ground. For the kraplappen (I’ll go into their use in the next post!), you see mostly white but also some red.

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Detail of a skirt.

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Detail of a kraplap, Indian chintz with a white ground.

 

In contrast, the town of Hindeloopen uses a lot of red ground in their traditional costume.

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Detail of a Wentke from Hindeloopen. This might’ve been the prettiest fabric in the exhibition.

 

Traditionally, chintz practically always included white (either as ground or detail color), black (mostly lines), and both red and blue as main colors. However, in the Netherlands we also have a number of two-colored chintz. White-black, white-blue and white-red. These were probably specifically made for the Dutch market, and especially in Hindeloopen worn for very specific occasions.

Hindeloopen had a very specific mourning tradition, with up to 7 stages of mourning. Although chintz wasn’t worn for the heaviest stage (all black), the black-white chintz comes into play for the ‘slightly-less heavy’ stages.

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Back of a Wentke for heavier mourning.

 

In an even lighter mourning stage, blue would enter the scene, and you get gorgeous white-blue ensembles for light mourning. As ‘out-of-mourning’ dress was mostly red, this relatively light-colored combo of white-blue would still clearly signal mourning.

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Wentke for lighter mourning.

 

Finally, you see red-white chintz in Hindeloopen as well. This was called ‘milk & blood’ chintz, and was worn by the bride.

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Milk & blood chintz on a kassekijntje, or cassaquin from Hindeloopen

 

Something else I’d never seen before this exhibition was the use of gold. This was usually reserved for the Indian upper class instead of export, and therefore very rare in European chintz. Nevertheless, the museum had a couple of sleeves and a spread with leaf gold on display.

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Detail of sleeves from Hindeloopen with leaf gold.

 

Although not really a color, something very specific about chintz is it’s glaze. I’ve seen a lot of reproduction patterns which feel like chintz, but don’t have this shine. It’s gorgeous though, and definitely best experienced in person. Although some chintz has lost some of it’s shine (it can wash off), the museum had a piece of a roll which is still in an amazing condition.

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Piece of two-tone chintz still on the roll and in very good condition. The angle of the picture makes it catch the light.

 

Pattern wise, all chintz has flower inspired patterns. Originally, these were very stylized and oriental in appearance. However, the European marked also started to influence Indian makers. Although it’s exoticism was a big draw of chintz, you do see it becoming just a little more European in style as well. From very large, asymmetrical patterns and stylized flowers, you start to see more geometrical patterns and more natural flowers.

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Indian chintz, flat flowers and asymmetrical placing.

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Back of a jacket. Chintz made in India, but the rose motif is distinctly more European looking.

 

Additionally, you also get European cotton prints imitating Indian chintz. Some is of high quality, but most of the time the European prints are just a little less in quality.

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Detail of an informal jacket. The sleeves are made of higher quality Indian chintz, while the body is European cotton print, which would’ve been cheaper.

 

 

And despite the flower theme, you get other motifs as well! Little insects and birds show up in chintz, but every now and then you get other patterns. On blankets you see heraldry, but also more animals and people. There was a skirt with hunting scenes. And one of the skirts had a very unusual border of ships of the West-Indian Company.

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Detail of a skirt border showing hunting scenes amid the flowers.

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Exotic bird on a jacket (re-made from skirt fabric).

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Unusual skirt border, showing ships of the West-Indian Trading company.

 

 

That was it for today, in the next post I’ll go into the different items of clothing (jackets, skirts, etc), some particularities of the items and how they might’ve been worn. I’ll also include a link to all my pictures in that post, as I have way more than fit into a blog!

Givenchy

The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague has a large fashion collection, which means they often have fashion exhibitions! I’m mostly interested in the ‘older’ collection, but as that’s also more vulnerable, they display their modern pieces more often. The past fashion topic was ‘From Audrey with Love’, an exhibition about Givenchy, and Audrey Hepburn. As that’s approaching the era I’m more interested in (’50s and older), I was curious to go.

I didn’t take loads of pictures, but I did photograph some of my favorites. It was interesting to see the changes through out the years, but I did notice (again) that I definitely favor the 50s and 60s pieces over the 70s, 80s and 90s. The skill and craftmanship remains clear, but I’m not a big fan of the bold colors and broad shoulders of the latter eras.

To start with: some back views! Some of the black evening gowns had the most gorgeous back details.

 

This was one of my favorites, this back was stunning.

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This one was also very nice, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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This one is a little less my style, but I did like the nod to the 18th century Watteau pleats with the little cape.

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Generally, there was a lot of black, white and bold colors. This dress stood out a bit in it’s sweetness, but it was very pretty.

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The one below was one of my favorites. I’m not the biggest fan of the beading on the bodice, but the skirt is stunning.

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The final room was filled with wedding dresses. The one below was Audrey Hepburn’s first wedding dress. I had to get used to the size of the sleeves for a moment, but quite liked it after that.

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This one was a movie costume I believe, with stunning lace. The one in the background was Audrey’s second wedding dress, very different from the sweet innocence of the first!

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To end off, the top of a wedding dress with the most stunning flowers.

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Catwalk – Fashion in the Rijksmuseum

When the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam announced that they were organizing a fashion exhibition this year it immediately made me very happy and curious. I’d seen some of their pieces, and some photo’s of others, but a lot of it hadn’t been photographed or exhibited. So finally a chance to see some of their collection! The exhibition is called ‘Catwalk’ and ranges fashion from the 17th century to the 1960’s. The whole thing was designed by Erwin Olaf, a Dutch photographer. He also made some of the publicity shots and a short movie clip showing the changes in silhouette over the years (my only wish was that it’d been in chronological order…). Both can be seen here: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/catwalk .

Last Easter weekend I finally had a chance to visit. We went very early, because the Rijksmuseum can be extremely busy especially on holidays. Turned out to be a good choice, when we arrived at 9:30 it wasn’t quiet, but still doable. When we left around 13:30 the crowds had gathered. We went through the entire exhibition twice, and on the second round I also took the chance to make some photo’s (at the bottom of this post). The lighting wasn’t perfect, but I think I still managed to get some okay photo’s of details.

All in all, I really liked the exhibition. It was very well set up, with a some of the pieces even moving along a catwalk. Where possible, the dresses were displayed without glass and viewable from every side, which is always a big plus for me. The rooms were organized by theme. The first was children’s clothing, with one 1850’s dress surrounded by moving children’s clothing. In addition, there were sounds of children’s play in the background, to really bring it to life. The second room was for the old pieces, 16th century to halfway 17th century. Including one of the only existing 17th century underpants. The third room was the catwalk, with 20th century fashion 1900 to 1950’s moving around. They’d put up chairs around the catwalk and a booklet so you could read about the pieces as they moved by. The third room showed the changes in silhouette, from the constraints of the 18th and 19th centuries to the 1960’s as era of freedom. The fourth room was about details, with spots lighting out specific details in dresses. The final room consisted of the show-pieces, several gorgeous dresses between 1750 and 1820 worn for special occasions and weddings. The top-piece was a 18th century wedding dress which is 2 meters wide. Especially the embroidery was absolutely gorgeous. I’d seen it in all the promo shots and thought it actually looked a bit plain because there’s barely any trimming on the dress. But seeing the thing in real-life completely changed my mind. The embroidery is so stunning, and the colors so well preserved that it’s definitely more impressive up close.

Some of my favorite pieces are below, with the official high-quality shots (you can find them in full (big!) size on the website of the Rijksmuseum) and my additional photo’s. (Reduced size to save space, but if you’re interested in the full-size image just send me a message!)

One of the oldest pieces, dress with Watteau pleats of sild, embroidered with flower and leaf motives, ca 1740-1745 (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1961-90-A)

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The show-stopper, a wedding dress with train, 2 meters wide, 1750-1760. The dress was worn by Helena Slicher in 1759. Interesting is that it combines various court-fashions. The bodice with ‘tail’ follows the English court fashion (manteau), while the separate train is mostly seen on the European mainland. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1978-247) The dress is deceptively plain, the only trim is on the sleeves, but the embroidery is absolutely gorgeous. I tried to get images of the back, it was standing relatively close to a wall (no walking behind), but the mirror behind made up for a lot. Underneath the sleeve flounces you can see the attachment of the train.

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Robe a la francaise, ca 1765-1775. The width and fabric indicate that this was worn for a formal occasion. The leafs in the silk are woven with gold and silver thread. The petticoat is a tablier, it only fills the front opening of the skirt.

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Redingote, ca 1786-1789, made of silk. I love the color of this garment, and interested in the little flaps which make the over-skirt stand open at the bottom. Never seen that anywhere else. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-1978-250)

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Dress of blonde-bobbin lace, 1815-1820. Lace wasn’t very popular after the French revolution, but Napoleaon obligated wearing lace at court in 1804 increasing its popularity. This type of blonde lace is named after the light color, and due to the fragility of the fabric blonde gowns are rare. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-NM-14105 )

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Riding costume, ca 1826. (link: https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/nl/collectie/BK-VII-N ). I love the color of this costume, and it was absolutely tiny! (54 cm waist…)

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Dress with silver embroidery, worn at 12,5 year marriage party by  Maria Elisabeth Verwer-Offermans in 1915 (link: http://hdl.handle.net/10934/RM0001.COLLECT.23624)

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Mr. Darcy to Eline Vere -19th century fashion exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum

Back before the summer the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague announced a new exhibition on 19th century fashions. It’s named ‘Mr. Darcy to Eline Vere, Romantic fashion’ and has as subject the entire century of fashion. I was very exited, because although many Dutch museums have historical fashion, it’s rarely on display. The exhibit opened the beginning of October and I went to see it a couple of weeks later. There is also a lecture every Sunday on various topics, which is really nice. I took loads of pictures (it was allowed!), and I’d like to share some here. Some are a bit blurry, because photography conditions weren’t always great (too dark), but I hope the beauty of these pieces comes across. This museum does not have its full collection photographed and online, so there’s no option to see the dresses except for in the exhibition. I’ll probably go back at least once more while the dresses are still on display (it lasts till March, so plenty of chance). To everyone living close by enough I strongly recommend the exhibit. The pieces are beautiful, they are very prettily arranged and there’s lots of them! The dresses are mostly arranged by theme, which can be era, but also colour or purpose. For this reason, not all dresses are shown chronologically and I think that for people unfamiliar with the changes in silhouette that might be a bit confusing. For me the only downsides of the exhibit were that this chance in silhouette was not really shown off very well, and that some pieces could only be seen from the front. The set-ups were really well created though, with appropriate settings, beautiful back-drops and they even had a room of ball-gowns twirling around on moving pedestals. Especially great because you could see these dresses from all angles. There were also some movie costumes included, most noticeably costumes from the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice.

In this post, I’ll start with the theme ‘white’. Some of the white and ivory dresses, along with my thoughts. I’ll probably do more posts in the future, but I’ll also try to upload all the images on my pinterest for anyone interested. By all means click through to see the full-scale images.

I’ll start with some Regency dresses. There were many beautiful examples, including some gorgeous white muslin dresses. I think this one was my favorite ‘little white dress’. The embroidery especially was lovely. The dress was made of very thin white cotton, the sheerness shows very well in the sleeves. The neckline seems to be gathered along a very thin cord tied in the front. The bodice is shaped with 3 small darts, and seems to have a waistband sown on the inside at the bottom. Maybe to strengthen the connection to the skirt? The darts also show in the waistband, so it doesn’t seem a separate strip of fabric. The sleeves are the classical puff with gathering on top of the shoulder, and they seem to again be gathered onto a cord at the arm-hole, though it’s difficult to see. The hem seems a couple of cm wide and is decorative, as the double fabric shows clearly due to its thinness. And of course, there’s more beautiful embroidery. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the back of this dress to photograph it.

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Next is another regency dress, but this time combined with an off-white spencer. The spencer is made out of a lovely textured fabric. I didn’t make a photo of the info tag, so I’m not sure of the fabric type. It closes in the front with hooks and eyes, and has a small collar. The spencer has at least two darts to give the shaping.The whole garment is decorated with corded strips, which run on the collar, on top of the closure, around the bottom, around the puff sleeves and around the lower sleeves. The sleeves have a faux-puff with a longer sleeve. The dress is again of thin white cotton with dotted embroidery all over, and an increase in dots around the hem. The skirt seems flat in front, but is gathered in the back and closes with strings in the back above a slit in the center-back of the dress.

 

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Aside from the muslin regency dresses, there was also a large collection of silk dresses in different colors. The next two are not pure-white, but so lovely I wanted to include them. These show the more luxury dresses, for grand balls and court occasions.

The first of these two was of a pale gold silk, an evening gown with train. The bodice has a square neckline gathered over a string with a ribon belt around the waistline. The sleeves are short puffs which are gathered and pleated along cords on three different points. I can’t work out the back closure exactly. The hem of the train is beautifully decorated with ribbon trim folded into triangles and pleated triangles.

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Of this second dress I don’t have a good image of the front, but in a way that doens’t matter because this dress is all about the train. It’s a gorgeous silk ivory court dress, with a subtly patterned fabric. The godice laces in the back and is quite low. The sleeves are regular puffs, but with metalic trim and netting around the bottom. The skirt is gathered very narrowly at the back and flows out into a very long train. The train is embroidered around the hem with the most gorgeous metal (I think gold) trim. The embroidery is in a leaf pattern, and if done on netting which is again attached to the dress. This netting might be original, but I also saw that they restored some items before the exhibition and used netting to reinforce materials, so it might be a restoration effort. (I don’t know enough about period embroidery to decide this)

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Although the majority of pale dresses were regency, there were some beautiful examples from other eras as well. From ivory regency, to Ivory mid-century.

This silk dress is 1850’s, with a three tiered skirt in a gauze fabric. At the bottom of each tier there is a swirly embroidery pattern. The sleeves are short, and a bit of a mystery to me. They seem to be made of several layers of swirly fabric. The bodice has a low v neckline and a deep v at the bottom front. In the center, there’s a pleated gauze pattern. I think it’s a lovely example of creating a visually narrow waist.

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Aside from Ivory, there was a slight blue/white theme in the mid-century dresses.

I believe this dress is late 1840’s early 1850’s, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s made of thin white cotton, and very interestingly seems to have a blue petticoat beneath the skirt. I don’t know if this is original, but it does make the skirt embroidery stand out in a lovely way. The front of the dress has an almost shawl-like effect, with the fabric being pleated over the chest and stitched down at the waist. The sleeves are 3/4 and unadorned. The skirt is two tiered and decorated with flower embroidery. I’m not sue of the closure as the back was hard to see, but it seems like there’s a little bow at the back on the waist.

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The second blue white dress is ca. 1855 and an evening dress. It has a two-tiered skirt with blue stripes and dots as decoration. The skirt is gathered in tiny pleats to the bodice. The sleeves are short and wide in 2 layers. The bodice comes to a point in the front and is piped along the edges. It seems to close with hooks and eyes. The bodice has two darts on each side, and what’s really interesting is that you can see the boning in the bodice through the sheer fabric. It seems to have boning along at least one of the darts, and in the center front.

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To end this (long) post, I’ll jump to the end of the century, to one of my favorite dresses of this exhibition. It’s off-white, and has so many gorgeous details. The bodice center has a collar and flower applique onto sheer pleated fabric. Over this, a shawl-like construction is draped and pleated which ends in the waistband and has lace insets and borders. When looking from the side, the closure is just visible. The long sleeves have an upper and lower part, both with tiny pleats and more lace insets. The skirt has a solid base with lace insets and flower embroidery, and becomes more decorated towards the bottom. There’s curved lace insets, pleating, gathering, etc.  And yet despite everything going on, it’s still elegant.

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