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Author Topic: Fashion in Leone  (Read 35643 times)
marmota-b
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« on: January 03, 2009, 09:28:05 AM »

You're all waiting impatiently for this thread, aren't you? Smiley

I touched upon this in the SL Encyclopedia thread, here; and here's what Dave made of my input.

Obviously, Jill is the best object of study in this field, so I'm starting with OUATITW. I've explored this from a big part already when working on my seminary work (even though not so much of it entered the final work); that means I've been pondering over it ever since I got the DVD, over two years.

As far as sources go: there are many.
My favourite is koshka-the-cat, a site of a costume enthusiast who creates historical costumes for herself, collects some antique clothing, even shares some patterns based on what she owns and made. And there are even old fashion illustrations on the site.
There's a similar site I discovered yesterday, much like Koshka, but bigger, the author is even more knowledgeable, and there's a lot of links to museums and such. Démodé.
Other sites: Fashion Era, German La Couturiere Parisienne (ironic name with it being German...), The Costumer's Manifesto. The last two contain patterns as well. Costumer's Manifesto is an awfully structured site, but if you manage to dig up the old books and magazines that are scanned in there, you find out they are real treasures. Most of them are from the turn of the century, though, therefore too modern for Leone's westerns.
The part about travel dresses not being black I cited in SL Encyclopedia comes from a book by Czech scholar Josef Opatrný. The book was called Amerika prezidenta Granta. (I think I don't have to translate this. Wink) I also read a book about Civil War from him, so I guess he focuses on the era.
Then there are the books from a Czech serie about history of fashion, most of them written by Ludmila Kybalová. The ones I'll be using are Doba turnýry a secese (The Era of Bustle and Art Nouveau), dealing with 1870-1920, which I finally own, and the preceding Od empíru k druhému rokoku (From Regency to Second Rococo), which I don't own, but want to get if it's still to be got. (These books are very popular and many of the titles are already sold out.) However, when I had it borrowed from library last time, I managed to redraft for myself most of the pattern drafts in it, so that's something to build on (when I find them...) I also scanned some images.
From the same serie, I also have a book by Alena L. Čechová and Anna Halíková, cocncerned with lace, ribbons, embroidery and other kinds of embelishments throughout the whole history of fashion. Here the text isn't so useful for this topic, but the pictures might be.
Well, and then the films themselves.


Jill's dresses are of course really nice, and seem to be quite accurate to the era, with some reservations, though. After a very, very careful (and, above all, long) examination I arrived at the conclusion that the era is about the first half to mid 1870's. The reasons for this outside of fashion are: Colt Peacemaker and Winchester rifles being used in OUATITW, setting it after 1873; and the railroad being built being similar to the Southern Pacific - this was explained by someone else, probably CJ, in the Morton's Railroad thread, which I can't find now, stupid search engine. These make for the earliest possible date.
The reason why don't put it much long after 1873 is entirely because of the fashion. A lot of the women's dresses still show traces of the earlier era, for example dropped shoulders: (Here's an antique 1867 bodice for comparison)
- at the station
- at the auction.
The two on the right are evening dresses, day wear never exposed so much. (I guess these ladies + several others at the auction with similar necklines are working in the hotel.) The necklines of 1870's evening wear, also lower than on day dresses, had slightly different shape. I'm not able to prove this from fashion plates, because those are highly stylised and the whole shoulderline on them is unrealistic. Tongue But here are some real pieces:
1872
1876-78
Another reason is the skirts. The 70's were the first of two decades dominated by bustle, the odd construction in the back... but none of the dresses in OUATITW show a real, full-grown bustle; they actually remind me more of the late 60's skirts with trains in the back, but narrower than real 60's. And it can't be the turn of 70's to 80's either, because at the time the skirts got much narrower. Kybalová claims that some women tied their legs above knees to force themselves to make tiny steps - because they couldn't make bigger ones in their skirts anyway. Here and here are some real ones of that time. (Bear in mind that it wasn't just what you see, there was at least a petticoat under the outer skirt, and often also a bustle construction + a lot of the bulk is ruffles, so these were really narrow for walking.) And later on, in the 80's, the overall silhouette changed: it retained the bustle, but it actually made it even more apparent, because the trains disappeared from day wear, from what I could find.

The reservation I have to the accuracy of Jill's dresses is the fact that all of the dresses I could find - including the travelling attire that's so similar to hers - have rather structured skirts, with lots of ruffles, more layers etc. Jill's dresses (just like the dresses of other women in the film) have rather simple skirts. But I can easily forgive that. Who'd want to sew such complicated clothing, using up metres of fabric and adding up on the cost (not to mention the impracticality of such dresses), when the real eye candy of the film is the cinematography itself?
Another reservation, which I'm not so inclined to forgive (as I've become quite a costuming jerk throughout the process of researching), is Jill's underwear. But I'll leave that for another post.

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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2009, 11:45:43 AM »

So, Jill's underwear. Or, at that, period female underwear in general.
The very first layer next to skin was a chemise - a long, loose shirt, or slip if you like. "The purpose of a chemise is to keep body oils off your corset and outer clothes, and it will be changed daily", says a PDF file I found on www.elizabethstewartclark.com.  A chemise can be as simple as it can be (like here) or more embelished, with an embroidered yoke and whatever (like here).
Jill, however, isn't wearing a chemise. What she seems to be wearing is a camisole, i.e. shorter and tighter piece of underwear (like this one). But from what I've found so far - especially according to Kybalová - camisole was worn over a corset. First mistake! Not so bad, however. Jill's camisole also appears to be knitted. No mistake in this case. Knitting machines already existed at this point in history.

The next thing was a corset. And that's the problem of OUATITW. Undecided Jill's wearing a very small underbust corset, the purpose of which must be only to cinch waist, while the purpose of the corsets of the era was also to provide support and shape the belly and hips for the fashionable silhouette; and it influenced the usual, not quite natural  posture seen on paintings and fashion plates. Which explains why I didn't find any period corsets like the one Jill's wearing.

Most of the corsets I found look something like this. Scroll down to the American 1878 thing. You can see that the next one, although underbust, still doesn't look like Jill's simple one.
Other examples from Kybalová:

You might think I'm just picky about details, but this in fact influences the way her outerwear (otherwise reasonably period accurate) looks. Compare the smooth front of these modern recreations (worn with period-style corsets) with the obvious underbust line on Jill's dresses. Especially obvious when she's sitting.
http://www.demodecouture.com/projects/bustle/
http://www.koshka-the-cat.com/pink_ballgown.html
http://booksnthreads.com/Costumes/victorian/natural/eveningbodice.html
http://modehistorique.com/dickens06/aIMG_9426.jpg


Other parts of underwear were pantaloons (that is, those "trousers" she's wearing in the bed scene), and a petticoat, which isn't shown in OUATITW, at least I don't remember - but maybe it's peeking through at some point.
And in the bustle era also a bustle construction. If anything like that was used in OUATITW, it was probably much simpler than these:

« Last Edit: January 04, 2009, 01:53:53 AM by marmota-b » Logged


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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2009, 02:41:46 PM »

Quote
(I guess these ladies + several others at the auction with similar necklines are working in the hotel.)
Grin Well reasoned!

Great work, marmota. I'll be stealing from your research very soon . . . .  Afro

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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2009, 01:38:34 AM »

Thanks. Well, the whole point of this is making my solitary pondering useful for others. I hope others will find it useful.

BTW, notice that corsets of this era lace in the back and open in the front - most of them with a special kind of busk (busk is a piece of metal, previously wood, in the front of a corset) with a kind of closure I'm not able to name; but some closed simply with buttons. That's kept in OUATITW. (I'm no expert on modern ones, but I guess - since it's practical - that it's the same with them.)
And also note that they were never laced tight. There was always a gap in the back.

OK, here's a Wikipedia article on busk. It's "loops and posts". If you like.

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2009, 04:02:18 AM »

Very nice marmota, enjoyed reading and checking out the links. Now my question would be would fashion change or have variations from the general styles dependent upon locations or would they stay generally universal.  What I'm getting at is would Victorian era style be different in say Boston than what would be worn in Barcelona or Rome or New Orleans because of the variation in climate and would Paris be noticeably different from say Boston.

I would also think that "Laissez les bon temps roulez " New Orleans would be more open (in the pipeline) to the latest Paris fashion than say puritanical Boston.

Also since we know that Jill was originally working in a bordello  Evil would that have an effect on her idea of everyday attire as opposed to what a more propper lady would wear?  Much like like today's distinction between what people think is high couture versus what would be considered "trashy". And, since the film takes place on the edge of the frontier would anybody living there at the time really notice a difference without access to research?

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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2009, 06:00:26 AM »

I'm sure there were local differences. Climate, culture and religion + local history of fashion influencing it, because as it's claimed in the same PDF file I took my info about chemise from, fashion in the strictest sense wasn't really born until 1870's. Boston namely - Kybalová cites a novel taking place in Boston, where ladies buy newest fashions from Paris, but it belongs to the good tone to let them rest for about two years before they really wear them.
Otherwise, since my books are Czech, there isn't much info on the USA, but I'm sure it took a lot of time before the fashion arrived on the frontier, if ever. It was also a common practice at this time that women made their own clothes, and resewed their old ones to resemble latest fashions more (Katherine at www.koshka-the-cat.com has examples of such clothes in her collection, and it's recorded in literature).
The only info I have about prostitutes at the time is a) they wore more make-up and b) they were often more fashion-forward than normal women, at least in Paris.

Oh yes, and climate... most of the dresses I saw were closed up to the neck, often even with a standing collar. That, I think, was hardly practical in heats. As you can see, Jill's dresses are always more open at the neck. I wonder whether that was the case in reality, but it definitely makes sense to me.
The fabrics used definitely differed. Another costumer quotes an example of a corset in the collections of the Kyoto Costume Institute that is made out of a meshy fabric. Most probably so that the wearer wouldn't be so sweaty in it. (Described here.)

« Last Edit: January 04, 2009, 06:02:30 AM by marmota-b » Logged


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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2009, 06:08:45 AM »

And, another note, Jill definitely doesn't stick to conventions when mourning is concerned. At mourning, Kybalová cites, widows were at first bound to wear black with a veil, later on they could change for greys or purples/violets (I'm not sure which of these it is, because there's only one word in Czech).
Jill wears her white dress obviously very soon after the funeral.

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« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2009, 04:20:52 AM »

Quote
"And, another note, Jill definitely doesn't stick to conventions when mourning is concerned. At mourning, Kybalová cites, widows were at first bound to wear black with a veil, later on they could change for greys of purples/violets (I'm not sure which of these it is, because there's only one word in Czech).
Jill wears her white dress obviously very soon after the funeral."

Yes I've always wondered about that also, it seems like she should have worn mourning attire, was it in defiance that she wore white, was she indicating that she was done mourning and ready to go on?  Was that her weding dress?

Give us more when you can.  Afro


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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2009, 08:46:35 AM »

Yes I've always wondered about that also, it seems like she should have worn mourning attire, was it in defiance that she wore white, was she indicating that she was done mourning and ready to go on?  Was that her weding dress?
Well, she wouldn't necessarily have mourning clothes with her, would she? I mean, she was planning on going to her own wedding, she could not have anticipated the funeral. Maybe she just wore what she had?

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« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2009, 09:04:08 AM »

Was that her weding dress?

Actually, white wedding dresses weren't necessary yet at that time. I saw many wedding dresses of that time on the internet, and just a minority was white. I think the tradition spread even later, maybe in the 80's. It's true that fashion plates already show wedding dresses in white. But I suppose not everyone could afford the latest fashions in wedding dresses, so any good formal dress that could be used later as well could suffice. Just like when today women marry in suits, that sort of thing.
Moreover, that dress seems too simple to be her wedding dress to me. It's more like a summer dress. Well, that's not much of an objection, she could choose to marry in it.

Well, she wouldn't necessarily have mourning clothes with her, would she? I mean, she was planning on going to her own wedding, she could not have anticipated the funeral. Maybe she just wore what she had?

That's what I think as well. And her black dress got ripped. So maybe she didn't have any other black dress? And the dresses in the farm didn't fit her? She definitely, at that time, didn't have money to have another dress sewn. But, still, wearing a white dress in the time of mourning, that is something to think over. She had, at least, the brown outfit she wore to the auction.


More to the black costume. I already wrote most of what I know about it in the SL Encyklopedia, but yesterday I stumbled upon these lace mitts very similar to those she is wearing with the travel dress:
http://www.vintagetextile.com/new_page_333.htm
EDIT: The site changes constantly, so it's no more what it was when I posted this. Tongue So here's the image of the original item:

They claim that these came out of fashion after 1850's...
Compare:


Looking at the skirts of the dresses here: http://www.museopiraino.it/femminile/donna_1860_1880_3.htm I think they simply didn't use a bustle construction under Jill's dresses, probably just petticoats, which results in them looking plainer that the usual silhouette of the period.

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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2009, 07:57:21 AM »

Marmota,  have you begun doing any image research fron the American West to check against your research?

Here are a group of ladies circa 1889 Montana.



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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2009, 09:41:49 AM »

Marmota,  have you begun doing any image research fron the American West to check against your research?

Not really. I tried it when writing the seminary work, but I don't know very well where to turn. So I'll be grateful for anything you find!
Pity that there aren't many details visible in that photo; but it's clear that these are much simpler than the high fashion of that time. From what I can see, it seems to me the dresses differ; there are some really old styles and some newer. The group on the right has older style and the one on left has newer, I guess, which would also reflect the age of the women in each group. Notice old style bonnets x hats. Wink

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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2009, 10:01:47 AM »

I had to edit the previous long post, add a picture, because it turns out the vintagetextile.com site is changing constantly. Fortunatelly I saved it on my computer!

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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2009, 11:31:43 AM »

I passed all my exams, I have free time on my hands and am catching up on everything I didn't have time to follow in previous weeks... I'm just stopping by to let you know I have the other book by Kybalová now as well. Smiley It's good to have them both, because now I can go straight through the whole 19th century in the eyes of one author. Which is to say, I don't think it suffices, she's much more focused on Paris fashions (in relation to Germany and Czech lands sometimes) rather than English fashions, not to mention the US. I also find there a severe lack of actual garments being analysed... for example, she mentions an interesting dress that's in the collections of a Czech museum, but we don't get to see it, not even a drawing if photographing it weren't possible...
Well, but I still like the books. Smiley They're a good thing to start building my own specialised research on. And they're a great source of knowledge about male fashions. Most costumers online are women. Grin

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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2009, 09:58:06 AM »

Bringing this back just to add link to this 1870 pattern for a skirt:
http://festiveattyre.com/victorian/p70/feb6.html
It says that "This train, which can be slipped on and off at pleasure, imparts a very dressy appearance to the toilet for either in-door or out-door wear." Which, if I translate it to understandable language, means the train is not necessary, which makes Jill's skirt pretty much accurate. After all, who'd want to drag around a train while travelling... well, fashionable ladies of that time might have wanted, but Jill seams practical enough to "slip it off".

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