Here’s a heads-up for the new fashions for December 1841, taken from the New Monthly Belle Assemblee and reproduced in the Port Phillip Herald of 22 April 1842. Of course, the news was already outdated by the time magazines reached Port Phillip, although I guess that it was fortuitous that descriptions of winter fashion (if indeed there was such a thing) reached Melbourne as it was moving its its own, much milder winter. I’m not sure how the fashion described in a magazine like the New Monthly related to the clothes that people actually wore. I think of the catwalk fashion that we see from the major designer houses todayand it seems to bear little resemblance to ‘real’ clothes that ordinary people wear. As you can see- I am no expert on fashion at all- not then, not now!
FASHIONS FOR DECEMBER
London Public Promenade Dress- Violet satin robe; a high corsage, tight to the shape, trimmed with three rows of cord and tassels to correspond; a single row is continued down the centre of the skirt. Long tight sleeve, ornamented from the elbow to the wrist with a succession of knots to correspond. Drawn bonnet, of deep orange-coloured satin; the brim edged with a ruche of dark green ribbon, and the interior and exterior trimmed with flowers. Embroidered muslin collar. Grey velvet scarf, bordered with sable fur. Sable muff.
Demi-Toilette. Pink pou de soie [sic- should be peau de soie] robe; corsage en gerbe, and long tight sleeve. White satin chapeau, a round open brim; the interior trimmed with small pink flowers; the exterior with a torsade of white satin ribbon, and a bouquet formed of the tops of white curled ostrich feathers. Green velvet mantelet; it is of a large size, sits close up to the throat, with a falling collar, trimmed with green fringe of a light pattern; a heart lappel, edged with fringe, forms it to the shape of the bust; it falls low behind, descends in front in long and very full scarf ends, and is bordered with fringe.
The promenade dress sounds very colourful, with deep orange, violet and dark green. I’m finding it hard to shake the image of a rainbow lorikeet.
I’m not sure if the picture below relates to the description or not. It apparently came from the New Monthly magazine, but I’m finding it hard to match the illustration with the description. (I think it embiggens if you click on it).