Sunday, February 26, 2017

Its All in the Details

Victorian Jewelry and Accessories.

The world of nature was a very popular motif in Victorian jewelry.   Bouquets of flowers, branches, leaves, grapes & berries were fashionable as well as insects & animals. The British government did not require jewelers to use any hallmarking system during the 19th Century, so a characteristic of jewelry made during this time was a lack of a maker's mark or quality stampings. Before 1854, most of the jewelry produced was 18k. After 1854, 9k, 12k and 15k were made legal in order to compete with international markets. This information is a great aid in circa dating.

Large brooches were in vogue, and worn at the neck during the day, or at the low for evening wear. Adornment of the hands and wrists became increasingly important, with Victorian rings and large bracelets designed to make the hand look dainty and feminine. Hair was worn, parted in the middle, in an elegant upsweep, which lent itself to the reappearance of earrings. Earring backs are very useful in dating historical jewelry. Post backs which are fashionable today were not seen in the 1880’s. Dangled earrings that had wire hooks or lever backs were common. Screw back earrings were not seen until the 1890’s and the clip was not patented until the 1930’s.

The most widespread gemstones used in jewelry during the Early Victorian Period were diamonds, amethysts, cabochon garnets, crystal, emeralds, ruby, ivory and tortoise shell. pink and golden topaz, turquoise, chalcedony, coral, seed pearls and cameos. Cameos were fashioned out of many elements, including shell, lava and coral. By 1886, opals had lost much of their unlucky reputation and were being used in the newest Victorian designs, Jet, Onyx, Vulcanite and Bog Oak were common materials utilized for mourning jewelry.

On both sides of the Atlantic, lockets became a very important fashion accessory. They held the memory of a dear one close to the heart. They could contain locks of hair or early examples of photographs (daguerreotypes), kept in secret compartments. Victorian lockets were often suspended from "book chain" necklaces. Book chain necklaces had a dual purpose. When these flat chains were removed at night, they could be used as a bookmark.

Silver jewelry became very popular in the late 1800's. The discovery of silver in Virginia City, Nevada in the 1860's greatly reduced the price of silver and provided a source for the metal needed to create many of these designs, which reflected a growing middle market. Engraved bangle bracelets, monogram and name brooches and sentimental lockets developed a more whimsical character in the late 1880's. Acorns, anchors, monograms, hearts, bees, bells, birds, swans, stars, sphinxes and daisies were all in vogue.

Alexandra of Denmark, wife of King Edward the VII, is credited with the popularity of the choker style necklace of the Victorian Era. She hid a small scar on her neck, which was likely the result of a childhood operation. By wearing choker necklaces and high necklines, she set fashions which were adopted for decades.

A chatelaine is a decorative belt hook or clasp worn at the waist with a series of chains suspended from it. Each chain is mounted with a useful household appendage such as scissors, thimble, watch, key, vinaigrette, household seal, etc. Sometimes a bag or purse is often hung from the waist as well. The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine reported in 1874 that chatelaines were worn at balls, having hooks suspended from them to hold fans. The 1878 Exhibition reflected their acceptance in formal wear. An extensive range of gold and silver, steel and electroplate fittings and appendages came on the market.

Ladies watches were not on the wrist, but would often hang suspended from a slide chain or a pin. The slide chain was often adorned with pearls or other gems.


Hair ornaments and hat pins were also popular and came in the same motifs as other jewelry. Be wary of today’s plastic combs and try to keep hair ornaments as authentic looking as possible. As  you develop your eye for what looks authentic and what looks reproduction or modern, picking accessories will become easier.

 Victorian fans are their own piece of art and were a necessity for Victorian women. Handpainted on silk, they depicted scenes of English gardens or faraway places. Often the stems were made of ivory, bone, mother of pearl or other such precious commodities. They were then finished with lace, a tassel and a loop, they could be hung from a chatelaine hook.

Eyewear was commonly wire spectacles with round lenses. Yellow/amber and brown-tinted spectacles were prescribed for people with syphillis in the 19th and early 20th centuries because sensitivity to light was one of the symptoms of the disease. Possibly were used outside of that, but research is scarce.

Lace was an important accessory in the Victorian Era as well. It was a
luxury item that depicted wealth and was often used as part of an ensemble but was detachable for cleaning. Lace capelets, collars, cuffs & jabots were prized accessories. In the late 19th century a jabot would be a cambric or lace bib, for decorating women's clothing. It would be held in place at the neck with a brooch or a sewn-on neckband. It was fashionable for men’s wear in earlier decades.

Lace was also used as a parasol cover and was also detachable. Photo to the left shows an antique carriage parasol with an
intact lace cover. Folding carriage parasols were dainty and delicate. Parasols in general were a staple for the upper class woman who wanted to protect her ivory skin from the sun. In the 1890’s and 1900’s as hats became larger, parasols fell out of fashion.

Gloves were also often made of lace but could also be made of kid, silk, velvet or suede and were often embroidered. Our method of measuring the length of gloves comes from France. We refer to 4-button, 8-button, etc. to designate how far the glove extends beyond the wrist. Gloves were fastened with buttons placed about an inch apart, so a 4-button glove extends up the arm from the wrist about 4 inches.
The general rule for length is the longer the sleeve of your garment, the shorter the glove should be. If you are wearing a formal gown that is sleeveless, or has very short sleeves, you will want to wear either very short (wrist length) or very long gloves (past the elbows).

An exception would be if you were wearing long gloves with the buttons at the wrist. In this case, you should slip your hands out of the gloves, and tuck them up into the sleeve of the glove for the duration of the meal. Don’t wear jewelry over gloves, with the exception of bracelets. In Victorian times, ladies had a “language of gloves”, which was similar to the secret language of the fan or parasol.

Submitted by Margarita Rose

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rose Parade - Behind the Scenes

 Another wonderful Rose Parade is done, and we are still glowing from all the excitement.  Have you ever wondered what happens in the 12 hours before the parade even starts?

Velvet Rose and Margarita Rose, club presidents, spend countless hours coordinating the week long events before the actual parade, right up to when we step on to the parade route.
Here is a time line of events just for that one special morning. During the week or two before, horses are given haircuts and are re-shod in special shoes, unless they are walking barefoot.

The horses are bathed generally the day before, especially when they decide to do this at the last minute! Stinky got his parade bath, and was as good as new. 

The evening before the parade, all RVs, horse trailers, campers and trucks meet up in one long caravan for the drive up to Pasadena.  There were stops where we pick up others along the way.  We had everyone in line by 6:30, and off we went.

We arrived in Pasadena a little after 9:00 p.m.  Our night was spent in the Pit, a closed freeway off ramp where we would set up overnight.                                  

It was very well coordinated by Parade volunteers, and we set up fairly quickly.  The  horses were tied up or penned, fed and blanketed. We set up a fire pit and we took some time to relax with family and crew.  

Mariah tucked in for the night in her zebra blanket.

Stinky and Ocho with their cozy blankets. 

We were told we needed to be in the saddle at 5:51 a.m. to be lead up to the staging area about a mile away.  This means up by 3:45 a.m. to get the horses ready, braid their manes and decorate with roses, and get ourselves ready - all in the dark!

The fresh roses were handed out to each lady, and they were beautiful!  They were made to match each of our dresses, and were placed on the horses' manes, hats and parasols.

Rosita Rose's pink roses, Priscilla Rose's purple roses, and Dorado Rose's peach roses.

Each horse proudly wore their official Rose parade ribbon.

Meanwhile, the Roses who ride in the carriage were taken by golf cart to the staging area where the carriage was waiting to be decorated with beautiful swags of fern and red roses. This was on a lovely residential street which fed into the parade route. We started in the dark using the light from our cellphones, and finished as the sun was rising.   

 Below, Sioux (Coachman Rose) with her carriage dogs, Monty, Katie and Ricky.  They are ready to go!  The beautiful carriage belongs to Sioux, however, she was driving for another entry this year.
We are so lucky to have LaDonne (Grandma Rose) as our carriage driver.  
She and Luke have driven far together the last several years.

We would like to thank all the support crew behind the scenes.  None of this could be done without them.  All vehicles must be removed from the Pit and driven to the end of parade route and parked in the Equestrian disbanding section.  David, Dan, Bill, Sandra, Craig, Sean, Mark and Bob were our wonderful drivers.  They also helped set up and tear down our area.

We have outwalkers during the parade to help us as we go along.   A huge thank you to Lisa, Irish Rose's daughter.  She was such a great help, and carried parasols and other items as needed the entire length of the parade.

A special outwalker is Jennifer.  She stayed right by Luke from before the sun came up and walked with him as he pulled the carriage all through the parade.  They have a very special relationship, and work so well together.


We also have our photographer and outwalker, Jerry.   He took these photos Jerry's Photos while walking the parade.

Below, photo by Charlie R, taken from the bleachers.

Soon, the riders joined the carriage in staging, and it was "hurry up and wait".  We were number 30 in the line up, so we did not have long to wait.  Our street flowed right into the parade route, and we were placed between two beautiful floats.

Left, riders joining the carriage in the staging area.                                                                     

Right, getting Monty settled in the carriage.

Here we go!  

Special Memories:

Priscilla Rose - "While this was my 5th Rose Parade, it was my first time riding my Arabian, Mariah. We have a very special bond and I looked forward to this day for years. She exceeded my expectations, making this a parade to remember forever!"

Shenandoah Rose - "This was my first Rose Parade, and I was very honored to ride in the carriage.  It was overwhelming and beautiful. I will never forget coming around the turn onto Colorado Blvd. where all the television cameras were set up, three stories high! So many people!"

Margarita Rose - "The hardest part about being IN the parade is not getting to see very much of it. I especially wanted to see the impressive 20 Mule Team in action and finally got to at our disbanding area after the parade. We stood right by it and got front row seats as it cruised by. So massive and amazing! I love the Rose Parade for its attention to detail and impeccable organization. I am so truly blessed to have experienced it five times with my sisters and my best friend horses."

Submitted by Shenandoah Rose

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A History of Purses and Handbags

Have you ever wondered about the origin of handbags and purses?

Women cannot do without their purses. Whether carried for utility or as a status symbol, handbags are essential to the modern woman. They carry our keys, our phones, essentially, they carry our lives. But as practical and necessary an accessory as it seems, the purse has not always been part of a woman’s wardrobe. Some women see it as a way to signify their wealth and others see it as a frivolous fashion item, but the history of the handbag reveals much about the history of woman, of her movement out of the home and into the world.

Pre 1800 Pouches and Pockets

The purse began as a symbol more than as a useful accessory. In ancient times wedding purses filled with money were often given to couples as a symbol of the womb, which would hopefully soon be filled as well. So from the beginning the purse has been associated with womanhood, femininity and female sexuality. Handbags have been essential to fashion history ever since people have had  something precious to carry around with them and only the items have changed over time.

The very first mention in written literature comes from the 14th century, where Egyptian hieroglyphs show pouches carried around the waist. Bags were attached to what were called "girdles" which were fastened to the waist. Embroidery and jewels adorned these articles and were used to show status - the richer the person, the more elaborate the bag.

In the 16th century, handbags took on more of an air of practicality with the use of everyday materials such as leather with a drawstring fastener on top. During this period, cloth bags were used that were made larger and used by travelers and carried diagonally across the body.   Right, leather bag with loop on top for belt via Museum of Brno. 

Also in the 16th century, wealthy individuals carried their money in pouches that dangled from a belt or girdle. These pouches were so easily stolen that soon the trend in pockets arose, which allowed a man or woman to hide his or her possessions on the body and out of thieves’ reach. A woman’s pockets might be hidden within the folds of her skirt or attached to a band under her skirt. It was something hidden and unreachable to all but those who had a very intimate association with her because to see what was in a woman’s pockets you had to literally be up her skirt.

 The 17th century saw more variety and both fashionable men and women carried small purses with more complex shapes. Young girls were taught embroidery as a very necessary skill to make them marriageable and we see the rise of beautiful and unique stitched artwork in handbags.

Left.  In the 16th through 18th centuries, pockets were worn underneath the petticoat, which had side openings to enable one to reach into the pocket.

In the late 18th century, women’s clothing silhouettes got sleeker and simpler with a reduction in the amount of underclothing worn by women.  This left no room for pockets so women began to carry small, often silk embroidered drawstring bags or purses called reticules, or 'ridicules'. These elaborately embroidered pouches allowed a woman to carry the necessary feminine weapons- perfume, powder, handkerchief and a fan for flirting- but usually held no money, which was earned and controlled by the men.

Reticules were smaller version of what women used to carry their needlework. This is likely the origin of the Dorothy bag which has since emerged as shoe bags, dress bags, laundry bags and today, gym bags.  Left, French 18th Century Purse Velvet Stumpwork Metal Embroidery

The level of decoration of a woman’s reticule was an indication of her family’s wealth and although not as private as a pocket, the reticule was still considered a woman’s hiding place whose contents were revealed to few.  Later in the 18th century, handbags got larger, and more eclectic. Bags were made in a variety of shape and with variety of fabrics.  Women had a different bag for every occasion and every fashion magazine had arguments on the proper carrying of these purses. The magazines included patterns for making bags and women began making purses to match particular outfits.


 Left, 1818 Regency era reticule.

The Victorian era brought a large variety of bags. Bags often were made to coordinate with the outfit and were now made of many different fabrics. By the mid 1800s, bags changed from simply drawstring styles, to a popular flat style, that could be made in either a circular or square shape and was generally heavily decorated with beading and needlework. Patterns and directions for making these types of purses became popular in ladies magazines at that time.

There were also smaller versions, used as coin purses which often included a metal fastener. By the early 20th century, women would carry bags every time they left home, even for short periods while hats were popular accessories that began to lose popularity by the early 20th century, handbags became increasingly popular. The success of the handbag has much to do with the fact that it has adapted to the needs of the time.

The term "handbag" first came into use in the early 1900's and generally referred to hand-held luggage bags usually carried by men. These were an inspiration for new bags that became popularized for women, including handbags with complicated fasteners, internal compartments, and locks. With this new fashion, jewelers got into the act with special compartments for opera glasses, cosmetics, and fans.

 Left, 1860s woman with leather purse.

Right, 1886 fashionable woman in a studio photograph with purse.

Because men’s fashions of the time were much unchanged and still included the pockets needed for a man to store his things, the purse was seen as a purely feminine accessory that served to exhibit not only the increasing differences in men’s and women’s attire but also the distinct separation in the roles of men and women. Men were expected to dress neatly and respectably as was acceptable in the work place while women were permitted to dress sweetly and romantically in keeping with their fragility and role as a decoration.

As upper class women became more mobile and found themselves away from home for longer periods of time, they needed a better way to carry the necessities. A shopping trip to the newly created department stores or to meet friends for tea required more than a dainty bag could hold. These new bags first came in the form of small suitcases, square with handles and locks, often made by companies that specialized in leather goods like saddles and luggage. To fulfill this new need, Companies like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Hermes began to produce bags expressly for women and the designer handbag was born.

By the early 20th century when slim skirts came into fashion, pockets for women were totally passe and handbags were becoming more and more popular. During this time most middle-class women were homemakers and did not have much to carry so purses, as well as the women that carried them, were still often seen as decorative. After World War I much of this changed, as wealthy women were outnumbered by women with a more practical attitude toward life who aspired to do more than remain at home. Right, 1911 photo by Bassano.

The 1920’s brought with them a new female sensibility: opposition to the unnecessary embellishment of Victorianism and to the demure and servile attitude of the Victorian woman. Modern women, or flappers, shed their flouncy curls and elaborate clothes in favor of a clean, boyish aesthetic and their handbag of choice, the clutch, was reflective of the 1920’s woman: sleek, sharp and without the frills and softness of her Victorian counterparts. Although clutches could not hold much and were difficult to carry, the streamlined look continued to dominate handbag design from new houses like Lanvin and Patou. In 1933 Van Cleef and Arpels took the clutch to the next level of glamour in their creation of the minaudiere. These small clutches, also made by Cartier, were crafted of gold or sterling silver an encrusted with jewels and quickly became popular among socialites and film stars.

1800-1930 Carpet Bags & Clutches

As new modes of transportation developed and people began to travel, the precursor to the modern
handbag really came into being. To be away from home for long meant that men and women needed a way for their things to travel as well, thus suitcases, hatboxes, and dressing cases were created. Carpet bags were the travel bags of choice for much of the late nineteenth century due to their roominess and durability, but as practical as the carpet bag was, it was not elegant and did nothing to differentiate the wealthy from the lower classes.

A French gentleman named Louis Vuitton seized this opportunity. In 1854 he designed a trunk made from iron and a waterproofed canvas. This luxurious travel case was elegant, sturdy, stackable and able to withstand the rigors of travel. It was instantly a hit with the wealthy as it served to distinguish them as elite. In 1896 the Louis Vuitton monogram canvas was introduced and is the brand’s most recognized symbol to this day.

Submitted by Irish Rose