pair of mermaid dresses and lotus hanging
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Mermaids

The inspiration behind their design:

The stripes and complementary, if contrasting, colour variants, as well as the idea of producting a pair of dreses worn by two sisters came about following a visit I made to Bath Fashion Museum where I saw two dresses known to have been owned by two sisters.

The Bath Fashion Museum gold and brown dresses were made for the Misses Perceval. They wore them to the Duchess of Richmond's Ball, in Brussels, on the eve of the battle of Waterloo from where their brother and all the other men had to leave for battle in their evening attire.

The concept behind their design:

The Mermaid dresses were made for another pair of sisters. In my mind they were to be worn by Isabella and Albinia Hankey. I also had another Grand Ball in mind. One that took place at The Royal Pavilion, Brighton in 1831.

For more about the women who might have worn these dresses and the ball they would attend pleace click here.

Hence the stripes on the sleeves

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The imagery on the skirt fronts comes from the wallpaper of the King's Apartments in The Royal Pavilion, the home of the Prince Regent, later George IV

Similarly the lotus shape that features on their accompanying wall-hanging

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All stitching was hand-stitching during the Regency and stitches that were visible were also minute.

The stitching on Mermaids was part free-machined, thereby echoing those tiny, neat stitches seamstresses once managed, and part hand-done.

 

I'd been stuck by the rough, large, tacking stitches I'd seen left on the unseen under-sides of some the Regency era garments I'd seen in collections during my research. I loved the idea that corners were occasionally cut. It chimed in with what I'd read of the need for speed as fashion even then was ever changing and required a very fast turnaround. I wanted to nod toward this, so there are visibly large stitches around the primary area of the decoration on the front of both skirts.

Working images of Mermaids. Please scroll right and left.

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