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. . . trimmings are used with a profusion that is little short of

extravagant . . .


By Astrida Schaeffer
Introduction by Kimberly Alexander, PhD Photography by Lisa Nugent and Brian Smestad

R uching, pleating, piping and more . . .

ictorian couture holds a wealth of design ideas that are explored in depth in this lavish book. Lush, full length photographs of late nineteenth-century gowns are paired with intimate close-up views of trim details, and step-by-step diagrams let the reader experience Victorian fashion in a whole new way. Inspired by the 2012-2013 exhibition at the University of New Hampshire, this book showcases previously unpublished garments from the Irma Bowen Textile Collection. Each gown has been closely examined, taking advantage of places where threads have loosened over time to peer at the back side of trims, searching garment interiors, and studying fabric grain lines and seams for clues on construction. To embellish something, to transform it with decoration and then add more, is at the core of the Victorian sense of beauty. Embellishments: Constructing Victorian Detail makes this aesthetic accessible for historic clothing and contemporary textile enthusiasts alike. About the author: Astrida Schaeffer holds two Master's degrees and has been working with historic fashions and textiles for over twenty-five years as curator, mannequin maker, reproduction seamstress, researcher, and teacher.
Walking gown, c. 1883 Silk taffeta Accession Number 73 Wedding dress of Joanna Peterson, c. 1890 Silk faille Accession Number 2000.1

left: Walking dress, c. 1880

Silk, satin and taffeta Accession Number 57 (quote from The Delineator, December 1894)

Wedding suit of Kate Lanmon Nims, 1909 Worsted wool, silk velvet, and cording by Chandler & Co. Boston Accession Number 72


We seek
Tea gown, Maison Rouff, Paris, c. 1900 Wool, silk satin ribbons, silk cord, silk net, lace Accession Number 177 Photography by permission of the University Museum, University of New Hampshire, courtesy Brian Smestad.

Sponsors to participate in this publication effort, with countless opportunities for underwriting and contribution, reaching national audiences in academic, textile, and artisan communities.


UNH Exhibition visitor comments:

Beautiful designs and excellent explanation of techniques Who knew you could do so much with just a few materials! Amazing! What a great new look at the Victorian age Wonderful presentation and learning experience. Much appreciated! A wonderful exhibitbeautifully displayed, well-written Inspiring. Very helpful for furthering my skills! Looking forward to the book. Fabulous! Thoroughly enjoyed the historical info and presentation. Wonderful to see the details.

SchaefferArts Costume & Exhibition Care Great Life Press Silk Damask Consulting UNH Center for the Humanities University Museum, University of New Hampshire The Mechlinski Fund

SchaefferArts Costume & Exhibition Care 67 Meehan Lane North Berwick, Maine 03906 603.674.7141