"Frankly my dear I don't give a damn." Actually, yes we do...about crinoline. What would Gone With the Wind, the Victorian Era, hoop skirts, and petticoats be without it? Women's fashion would be structured much differently today if crinoline hadn't made a debut in the 1800's. It is the stiff material (originally made of horse hair) that was used to make petticoats and is, as you might be surprised to know, still used today by many of our favorite designers.
We took a trip to the Musee Galliera, Paris' world-renowned fashion museum, to view their new exhibition "Sous l'Empire des Crinolines" (the exhibit runs from November 29th through April 26th 2009) which displays the beautifully detailed looks of the Second Empire (1852-1870). Our mouths dropped when we saw the sumptuous materials, minuscule waists (so jealous!), and flawless jeweled accessories. We fell in love with the stunning collection of mother of pearl fans, which depicted Arcadian scenes and had beautiful gold detailing. Another part of the exhibit we couldn't get enough of was the beautiful ball gown designed by the Charles Frederick Worth, the world's first couturier.
Are petticoats and hoop skirts starting to sound like great investment pieces? Well, you're in luck! This past year on the runway crinoline has made a big comeback. Think Celine, Jean Paul Gaultier, Fendi, Inbar Spector, and Giambattista Valli. Although all the looks were fresh and modern the nod to the fashion of the Second Empire was undeniable. Jean Paul Gaultier used the material in an avant-garde way with a deconstructed hoop skirt haute couture wedding dress, while Valli kept it classic with a knee length New Look dress. Now if someone could only come up with a modern and less painful design for a wasp waist we'd be in heaven!
Ball Gown designed by Charles Frederick Worth
Gaultier Wedding Gown photo courtesy of Style.com
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PHOTOS BY ELIZABETH PANTALEO