Sunday, March 27, 2011

1880s Fancy Dress Gypsies

Ardern Holt's 1887 book, "Fancy Dresses Described: or, What to Wear at Fancy Balls" is available to read online at This is a little late (1887, while the event is aiming more for the 1860s) for CVD's La Traviata Ball (April 30!). The descriptions are great for gypsy inspiration anyway, and here is a lovely plate showing an Esmeralda costume. Let me remind you (or tell you) that Esmeralda is not only a gypsy, but a dancing gypsy. She confesses a murder she did not commit because they threaten to crush her foot in a vise. Seriously. So that is pretty much perfect! Notice some of the recurring themes and how they also showed up in my previous gypsy posts - gold trim, red black and gold or yellow, coins as trim, sashes, tambourines, etc. I wish I knew who "Zitella" was, but she sure sounds like a gypsy to me.ESMERALDA. A rich gipsy dress in yellow, black, and scarlet satin, made short, trimmed with coins and gold braid; a sash of gold tissue tied about the hips, a tambourine carried in hand ; bracelets above and below elbow, united by coins ; stay-bodice with coins and gold braid ; gold net with sequins; ornaments, sequins. Sometimes (as in Coloured Illustration No. V.) the skirt is red, trimmed with gold, and the bodice takes the form of a loose black jacket, with full yellow vest of
soft silk.

ESMERALDA, PRETTY. Yellow satin box-plaited skirt, with lace flounces, draped on the side, with red satin embroidered in gold ; black satin bodice and jacket, embroidered in gold, with pockets at side ; large black and gold scarf tied at the side.

GIPSY, QUEEN OF GIPSIES, FORTUNE, FORTUNE-TELLER, PEDLAR, BOHEMIENNE, AND ZINGARI. For the pedlar and fortune-teller order of Gipsies, a short red, black, or print skirt, loose red bodice, with belt ; yellow handkerchief round neck, red cloak, straw bonnet, and basket stocked with laces, clothes-pegs, cheap jewellery, packs of cards ; bright red petticoat with band of black velvet and gold braid on either side. Algerian tunic, velvet bodice, low square short turreted sleeves, trimmed with gold braid and sequins, gold cord from shoulder attached to a small dagger at the waist ; chemisette of soft muslin with puffed sleeves tied at elbow with black velvet ; orange and red handkerchief tied round head, the ends crossing at back fastened with large gold pins ; coin ornaments. Or, a striped woollen petticoat, a blue jacket, cut V-shape at neck, lined with maize; a muslin apron and bib, playing-cards sewn to skirt; worsted handkerchief tied over head. The more ornamental Gipsy Queens, &c., wear short dresses of red, yellow, and black satin betrimmed with gold, as follows : Red satin petticoat, with black velvet and gold hieroglyphics, trimmed with coins and gold fringe ; gold satin upper-skirt, covered with a gold trellis-work, and Vandykes with coins, Spanish balls, and fringe ; silk scarf of many colours round waist, stay-bodice of black velvet, trimmed with gold, short sleeves, black velvet bag ; gold crown with coins, bracelets and armlets united by chains, coin ornaments ; a tambourine in hand. This is equally applicable for a Zingari or Bohemienne, except that a gold net and coins is best fo'- the head. High black satin boots with gold trimmings, or black shoes embroidered in gold, and sometimes a white chemisette above the low bodice, black gloves, black stockings ; pale yellow flowered skirt, draped with jonquil satin, crape sash studded with stars ; red satin bodice over
lace ; yellow gauze draped across the shoulders ; scarf of red and yellow gauze about the head. (See also Portuguese Gitana, Preciosa, and Esmeralda, and Coloured Illustration

GITANA. Red shirt, black tunic, with black velvet bands embroidered with gold and coins; red body and cap; black gloves and shoes. {See Gipsy and Portuguese.)

MASCOTTE. Dress of cream cashmere, body and skirtslashed with crimson silk and gold, with epaulettes of the same ; tunic embroidered with gold, edged with gold fringe, looped with gold girdle and tassels; toque of crimson and gold ; vivandiere's canteen and gauntlets. Also dark brown wobllen dress and straw hat, large bunches of poppies and field flowers outside ; gold collarette ; vivandiere's barrel and gauntlet gloves. The gipsy costume worn by Mdlle. Dinelli in
the third act of La Mascotte was composed of a drapery of crimson and gold, shorter on one side than the other, but nowhere reaching the ground. Coloured silk stockings and shoes, with sandals of gold reaching to the knee ; a handkerchief of red and gold tied over dark flowing hair; tambourine; no gloves or mittens worn.

MEXICAN GIPSY. Black satin vandyke skirt, with red satin scarf over black, and red satin bodice covered with sequins ; red satin head-dress and Mexican ornaments.

CARMEN (heroine of Bizet's Opera). In first scene wears a Spanish dress, short skirt, forming three tunics, white, blue, and red, all trimmed with gold braid, the top covered with a lattice-work of gold braid ; white muslin loose bodice, short red or black satin Senorita jacket over it ; black mantilla. Second dress (a gipsy costume), short skirt of Armenian embroidery
in all colours, arranged with bands of the same at the back. Muslin bodice; Spanish jacket of silver cloth, with short and pendant sleeves. Necklace of many rows of silver coins; armlets and bracelets of the same. Head-dress, silver braid, coins, and roses of three colours. Third dress
(a brigand woman), short stuff petticoat, striped blue, yellow, black, and red; scarf of same draped round it. Yellow waistcoat, brown Senorita jacket, with long sleeves, trimmed with
black ball fringe. Linen cuffs and collars, blue necktie, red handkerchief tied about head. Round Spanish cap (black). Fourth costume, exquisite Spanish lady's dress, short white satin skirt, with three rows of gold blonde, headed by bands of ruby satin, bordered with gold ; down the front bows of gold braid tagged ; stay bodice of white satin, with gold buttons, pointed back and front. Senorita jacket of ruby satin, with long sleeves, gold blonde ruffles. Mantilla of gold blonde, diamond ornaments, roses at the side. With all but the brigand dress gold-embroidered stockings and shoes. Prosper Merimee describes the wayward gipsy as wearing a short black silk, with low bodice and short sleeves, or square bodice with elbow sleeves, plain skirt, rather full, black mantilla, and a great bunch of white jasmine fastened high on the head. A large plain black fan, or
one of the cheap Spanish fans. Madame Dolaro wore in the second act of the opera a short dress of blood-red cashmere, made with a full bodice, and a mere shoulder-strap for sleeve; round this was wound three times, beginning at the shoulder, a scarf of black gauze, with wide stripes of gold. No ornaments but a scarlet flower placed high in the hair. Red, black, and yellow, blue and silver, all good combinations. Patti, in the first act, wore a short dress of deep orange satin, trimmed with black chenille lace ; black velvet Spanish jacket over a white chemisette ; bright green sash and shoes ; black mantilla. In the second act, a gold satin dress, embroidered with crimson flowers ; white silk gauze bodice, long hanging gauze sleeves, sewn with red coins and golden drops ; a black gauze scarf with silver stripes round the hips. In the next act, dark blue and yellow striped petticoat, a pointed band, red velvet jacket ; cap of black velvet with scarlet. In the last scene, a short bright pink skirt, cream silk tunic, embroidered with roses and pomegranate blossoms ; light cherry-coloured velvet bodice with bands of gold, white blonde mantilla over high comb, fastened with roses, fan painted with Spanish bull-fight.

MICAELA (Carmen). Short white cashmere skirt, bordered with band of blue ; blue over-skirt, trimmed up the front ; low square bodice, with grenat velvet, revers of the grenat velvet bordering white stomacher ; white linen headdress, fastened with gold pins, and flowing at the back ; muslin cap. (Le Cceur et la Maift). Short striped red and yellow petticoat ; three tunics above of red, matching red stay-bodice, cut square in the neck ; large straw hat j wreath of flowers. Black grelots and gold fringe and coins ; large ornamental pattern of gold, worked up the front and sides ; above this a scarf of black lace, almost covered by a tunic of scarlet and gold ; Oriental silk tunic, pointed on one side, and knotted on the other ; low black body, cut square, trimmed with gold chains and coins ; handkerchief of the same red and gold material, tightly tied round the head ; black stockings embroidered with gold spangles and shoes en suite. Or short
black satin skirt bordered with gold braid and coins ; crimson satin tunic ornamented with gold butterflies and stars ; black and crimson satin jacket, with coins; crimson satin headdress
with gold sequins; anklets and necklets of gold coins. Tambourine.

ZITELLA. Red cap with coins ; black velvet bodice and red waistcoat, embroidered and laced with gold ; red gold-embroidered tunic, studded with coins and bound with black velvet, and bordered with gold fringe ; petticoat of black velvet, with broad band of hieroglyphics in- gold, and gold fringe ; silk sash in red, gold, and black.

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