The curators at Colonial Willamsburg gathered 75 examples of the best of 18th-19th century printed fabric. Many of the pieces have never been on display before. The selected pieces are simply breathtaking. The pieces dazzle the eye, and quickly banish any thoughts of Colonial era fashions and homes as dark, bland, or unfashionable. The colonists were just as fashion conscience as their English counterparts and quickly adapted the latest trends and fashions into their homes and wardrobes.
Below are just a few of the highlights on display:
Banyan c. 1770-1810. During this period, men were not afraid to wear bold colors and flowered fabrics. Banyan's were worn at home in private when a gentlemen took their waistcoats off for comfort. The cap kept the gentlemen's head warm when the wig was not being worn.
Gown and apron c. 1780-1790. This is a very fashionable gown and highlights the fashionable silhouette of the 1780s. My favorite part about this dress is that at the front of the bodice an extra strip of fabric was added across the top for modesty. I also liked how the apron is tucked under the V at the front of the waist.
Gown c. 1785. This was my favorite gown in the exhibition. I love, love, love every part of this outfit. The wig, fichu, flowers, petticoat, and jewelry are reproduction.
Side view of the gown.
Gentleman's shaving or dressing apron c. 1750-1775. Worn while being dressed and shaved, the apron prevented the powder that dusted the wigs from getting on a gentleman's clothing.
Gown c. 1800-1810. This is a beautiful example of the Empire style fashions. The fabric dates from c. 1790 suggesting that the dress was remodeled after the 1790s to reflect the changing fashions.
A close up view of the lovely sleeve trim.
Gown with removable sleeves c. 1805. This dress has removable sleeves which transformed a day dress into an elegant evening dress. I love the ruffles on the bodice for modesty.
Gown bodice and skirt panel c. 1790. Another example of a dress remade to reflect changes in fashion. The skirt panel had been connected to the bodice, but was removed at a later date.
Reproduction gown in the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum gift shop. This fabric was reproduced by Colonial Williamsburg, but has been retired. You think they would have waited till after the exhibit!
Fabric fragment c. 1775-1800. Colonial Williamsburg has reproduced this fabric and can be purchased here.
Two stomachers c.1720-1740. This is the back of the stomachers and would would not have been meant to be seen.
Doll in a wrapping gown c. 1770-1775. Dolls in the 18th century showcased the latest fashions and this doll came with a complete wardrobe of fashionable gowns and underpinnings.
Apron c. 1770-1775. A unique example of a bib apron from the 18th-century. I need to add on of these to my wardrobe!
Child's gown or frock c. 1790. Guests to Colonial Williamsburg will recognize this gown and fabric as the inspiration for the outfit sold in the gift shops of CW.
Back view of a jacket c. 1775-1785. The stomacher to this jacket has been lost.
Jacket c. 1780. Another example of fabric being reused to reflect changing fashions. The jacket dates to the late 1770s to early 1780s, but the fabric dates to an earlier period.
Jacket c. 1795-1815. Changing fashions are reflected in this jacket for everyday wear.
Hat c. 1780-1820. Cotton chintz used to line the inside of this fashionable straw hat.
I highly recommend a trip to Colonial Williamsburg to view "Printed Fashions." Pictures do not do justice to the beautiful fabric and fashions on display. The exhibit is scheduled to run for two years, so there is plenty of time.
For more information visit the official page here.