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Friday, April 2, 2010

Fire-proof dresses!!

On April 1st, I started my Fashion128g class: historical reproductions. The assignment is to recreate a Victorian bodice; thus, there is a lot of research to do. I decided to search for the fashion magazines of that era, and I found "Godey's Lady's Book" published by Louis A. Godey and his editor Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale (yes...a woman!). This magazine is full of great plates, information about trends of this era (colors used, textiles, hair styles, etc.), technological advances within the fashion industry and health industry; also, gives advice in social behavior and manners and provides an outlet for literature in the form of poems and stories.

One of the paragraphs that caught my eye is the one about the Fire-proof dresses; so, quoting this book:

"Fire-Proof Dresses.- Scarcely a week passes but we read sad accounts of young ladies being burnt to death, owing to their light muslin garments catching fire. It ought to be generally known that the light dresses may be made fire-proof at a mere nominal cost, by steeping them, or the linen or cotton used in making them, in a dilute solution of chloride of zinc."

Wow!, you think on the glorious Victorian gowns, but our modern minds forget the dangers of that time...

In 1859, it was proposed in England, that an Act of Parliament should be pass to regulate the sale of petticoats and they should be labeled "Dangerous". They even proposed to create a "Crinoline Insurance Company" to deal with the many accidents by fire. According to this article (Punch, January 8th, 1859), a proper lady should own her own fire-engine!! and they should fill in the tubing or hoops of the crinoline with water in order to extinguish any possible fire...

This Punch 1859 article and photo was found at; and, the information is from the book: "Mr. godey's Ladies, being a mosaic ;of fashion and fancies" edited by Robert Kunciow, The Pyne Press, Princeton, 1971. (Borrowed from Los Angeles City Library).

1 comment:

  1. This is amazing. I love historical costume. I'm so jealous that you're taking that class, I couldn't because I have 1B at the same time ;) Probably better that I get more advanced sewing under my belt before moving on to that class anyway. Oh well, next Spring? :)