Title: Linked to History
Collection: The Regency Wardrobe
Garment: Woman’s spencer and skirt
Materials: FSC accredited paper tablecloth, tissue paper, rice paper, card, Japanese rice paper Mizuhiki chord, embroidery thread
This piece is inspired by the style of a particularly high necked spencer jacket, part of a walking dress, shown in a fashion plate in La Belle Assemblée (or Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine, 1806-1832), in April 1820.
Along with the pelisse the spencer became a Regency classic and was often trimmed with military styled fastenings. It was a short, fitted jacket cut to just above waist level or to the bust line. Often tailored on identical lines to the dress beneath it, a spencer might be made in a darker, contrasting colour. It was modelled on a gentleman’s riding coat, without tails, and is said by some to have been inadvertently engendered by Lord Spencer through a mishap. The exact nature of this is not agreed upon but might have involved him backing too close to a fire and losing his coat tails.
Linked to history is also inspired by images owned by The Regency Society, and a model in Brighton Museum of the Chain Pier. Built in 1823 when Brighton was the busiest cross-channel port in the country the Chain Pier was destroyed by a storm in 1896. The collar of this outfit reflects the towers that stood along its length and the chains and links that ran between them.
The frills down the length of the front of the skirt represent waves, beating against this piece of architectural fashion. Around the back of the skirt the embroidery is inspired by oriental block printed designs of waves from the early nineteenth century.
*Please note: Part of the concept of The Regency Wardrobe is that the colour of many of the pieces may change over time. This is to reflect:
- research done by The House of Embroidered Paper into Regency era garments and the observation that the colures of their surfaces have faded overtime (as evidenced by looking under seams and inside material crevices)
- how historical events and people fade in the collective memory
- how the power and prestige of civilizations and empires fades overtime
- how the surfaces of most items we find left to us from history have faded.
The white of this piece risks changing or becoming marked by age over-time, just as we all do.