26 May 2017

Frills and Thrills

In her day job, New York Times fashion writer Charlotte di Carcaci ravishes her readers with fashion that goes beyond skindeep - with a researched historical bias. In her leisure, she ravishes her Instagram followers with a delightful riot of frills and thrills of the painted portraiture kind, captured in cropped detail.

'Portrait of Lady Hillingdon', oil on canvas by Sir Frank Dicksee (1905)

Plunging necklines sparkling with bevelled jewels, captivating bosoms hemmed in intricate lacey patterns, fine and delicate shoulders draped in shimmering brocade, virginal waists corseted in acreages of soft ribbon, puffed up sleeves made out of silk, powdered-up diaphanous skin and cascading curled-up locks as canvasses to seamstresses, gold-threaded embroidery turned to an art form, shimmering vaporous fabrics floating about like peony blossoms... And all artistically immortalised by talented painters.

'L'Innocence', by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (circa 1893)

All in all, this is a tale of aristocracy and fine living, old European money that watches its Ps and Qs... on canvas. It almost makes us yearn for the good old days until we remember the privileged lifestyle was essentially out of reach for those outside the tight circles. Unfortunately the portraits are left uncredited by the curator for the most part but we guess that Madame de Pompadour, Pauline Borghese and portraits by Jean-Honoré Fragonard might hide in some of them.

Uncredited (timewise the empire dress hints at early 1800s)
'Young Lady with a Small Dog', by Vittorio Matteo Corcos (circa 1895)

In any case, the carefully-curated catwalk is of a high calibre and depicts how fashion in those days was at least as extravagant and opulent as it can be today. It is also a playful, instructive, delicious and visual-pleasing way of (re-)acquainting oneself with museum treasures of bygone times, all in the noble name of art and fashion. An ode to elegance, to feminity, that is a delight for the eyes!


Sources: (1-8) Charlotte di Carcaci Instagram. If you are able to credit any of the above (uncredited) portraits, please do so in the comments, this would  be so appreciated! (9) 'The Souvenir' by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, via The Athenaeum.

'Queen Charlotte', oil on canvas by Thomas Gainsborough (circa 1781)

Mirabelle couldn't help it! Here are some suggestions - we'll leave it to Charlotte to crop the images:

'The Souvenir', oil on canvas by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1776-1778)
'Ianthe', oil on canvas by John William Godward (1889)
'Portrait of Anna Pitt as Hebe', oil on canvas by Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun (1792)
'The Mischievous Puppy', oil on canvas by Emile Vernon (1915)

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