Gift of Louis G. Smith, in memory of his mother, Mrs. Samuel Street Smith, 1935
Not on view
While a "proper" coat-like bodice with buttoning at center front has supplanted the accustomed deep décolletage of the previous century, every other aspect of this 1872 wedding dress emulates the eighteenth century. Self-trims, lace, ribbon, and even orange blossoms re-create the repertoire of dress techniques from a century earlier. As the technology and techniques emerged in the 1860s and 1870s that could make any dressmaker a virtuoso of eighteenth-century style, fashions such as these could be created. Would this have been a poor person's version of the eighteenth century? In a sense, the bourgeois access to the old forms of aristocracy in dress had to wait until the Second Empire and then, abetted by technology, arrived with a vengeance. Of course, the truism is that wedding dresses tend to be conservative and even retardataire; but the gap is not often the full century or more that it is here.