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Archive for the ‘1890s fashions’ Category

Waspies-Derry-500

Waspies-Belfast-500

This pair of Northern Irish studio portraits feature two tightly laced ladies whose cinched-in waists are accentuated by belts or corsets worn as outwear. The photograph by J. Glass dates from the 1890s and shows a woman wearing an unusual leather laced belt with an attachment that looks like a telephone cord! The verso of this carte-de-visite incorporates a design which was registered by Marion and Co. in 1894. The woman’s husband wears a Union flag, demonstrating his political affiliation and loyalist leanings.

The photograph from Belfast is very similar to another image I posted about a few years back. I love her precariously balanced hat which includes a large bow and buckle feature. The high neckline accentuated with a brooch; ruched velvet bodice and puffed Juliet sleeves are typical of the time. Her tight lacing may, in fact, be part of the bodice of her dress rather than a separate guêpière or waist cincher. Whilst researching this post, I came across many phrases to describe a variety of exterior corsets, for example, corselets, Swiss waists, waspies, waist cinchers and guêpière. Fortunately, The Dreamstress site had an excellent post which clarifies the difference between some of them and which you can read here.

The firm of McBride and Co., 3 High Street, Belfast, were (see W.A. Maguire’s A Century in Focus: Photography and Photographers in the North of Ireland, 1839-1939) at this location between 1894-1901. This dates both photographs to a similar time period and indeed the women’s silhouettes are remarkably alike.

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Fashion doesn’t get more outlandish than these two outfits from different parts of the country. Both date from the 1890s and are extreme to say the least. The Lauder studio of Westmoreland Street  captured the thousand yard stare of the young Dublin lady as she balanced her feathered creation upon her head. The waistline of the Kerry lady was probably reduced by the photographer – an early example of photoshopping! This was quite common in the period as the photographer took off a few inches bringing the sitter nearer to the ideal. 

A lot of carte-de-visites are very similar and I only buy those that have something a little unusual or extreme about them. I am particularly drawn to the whole Victorian conservatory atmosphere conjured up by the backdrops and props in both photographs. The Tralee photograph includes a Wardian Case in which ferns were grown and both feature palms. Jim Linderman’s project includes some fine hand-painted studio backdrops. I also try to collect as many provincial studio images as possible as I think it expands photographic history beyond the usual city studios. 


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