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Fancy Dress Balls: All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go

Cynthia Cooper, McCord Museum

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Introduction:

Cynthia Cooper, McCord Museum, 2003

In the 19th century, costumed skating carnivals and balls were very popular social activities. The sheer number of archival photographs of people in fancy dress, as it was known, attests to the popularity of this phenomenon, as well as its importance to those who took part. These portraits reveal a great deal about Victorian morals, values, taboos and tastes regarding clothing, bodies and social behaviour. While the basic appeal of fancy dress lay in its semblance of permissiveness and escapism, this sort of amusement was controlled by a complex set of moral restrictions.


II-60125.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlles Allan costumées en « Tennis » et « Hiver », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60125.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

In the late 19th century, fancy dress representing a concept like a game or a season was common, especially for women. The costumes were typically based on a fashionable dress style embellished with trims and small objects that alluded to the concept.

May Allan's unusual "Tennis" costume includes a racket and balls on her head, and a net draped around her navy blue skirt. Her older sister, Maud, in a white dress trimmed with snowshoes and a real stuffed snowbird, portrayed "Winter," a very popular character, especially at skating carnivals. The rectangular pieces at her neckline and waistline are meant to be icicles.

Another popular emblematic costume was "Night," a dress of black tulle covered with gold stars worn with a crescent moon on the head. "The Press" was often portrayed in garments entirely covered with newspapers.

References
Ottawa Free Press, 1 February 1881.

Quoi:

Maud Allan, on the right, wore a "dark green petticoat covered with hemlock; white . . . flannel overdress trimmed with swansdown and icicles; tiny snowshoes fastened in the hat and belt and a snowbird perched on the shoulder."

Où:

The skating carnival attended by these two young women took place in Ottawa, at the Royal Rink. The McCord Museum has a few individual portraits of guests.

Quand:

The young women posed for this photograph in February 1881, immediately following the fancy dress skating carnival at the Royal Rink in Ottawa, under the patronage of the Governor General, Lord Lorne.

Qui:

The Misses Allan were the daughters of the Hon G. W. Allan of Toronto, Speaker of the Senate, and thus were part of the very select viceregal party accompanying Lord Lorne.

I-14647.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Stevenson costumée en « Photographie », Montréal, QC, 1865
William Notman (1826-1891)
1865, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
8 x 5 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-14647.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Miss Stevenson attended a fancy dress ball in Montreal in 1865 at the Theatre Royal, given by the officers of the garrison. She dressed as "Photography", complete with a camera on her head and photographs adorning her dress, shoes, bracelets and fan. Miss Stevenson copied this dress from a printed fashion plate, which frequently offered images of fancy dress costumes. The almost identical costume in the Parisian plate is bright green. Books of fancy dress ideas and suggestions were also widely available.

Fancy dress allowed men and women alike to flout some of the strict dress conventions of the 19th century. Miss Stevenson's short skirt reveals her ankles, which at an ordinary ball would be quite scandalous. A widely distributed manual on fancy dress concluded its introduction: "There are few occasions when a woman has a better opportunity of showing her charms to advantage than at a Fancy Ball."

References
Ardern Holt, Fancy Dresses Described, or What to Wear at Fancy Balls, 5th ed. (London: Debenham and Freebody, 1887), p. xiii.

Cynthia Cooper, Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada's Governors General, 1876-1898 (Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions & Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1997), pp. 28-29.

Heinz K. and Bridget A. Henisch, The Photographic Experience, 1839-1914: Images and Attitudes (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), pp. 60-67.

Quoi:

This photography costume is probably green silk, with rows of photographs edging the skirt and neckline, and photograph medallions on the fan, shoes, ankle and wrist bracelets. A camera on the head is softened with a sheer veil.

Où:

While Miss Stevenson wore the dress in Montreal, a Parisian fashion plate and later an American one illustrated the same one. Fashion information was very far-reaching, even by the middle of the 19th century.

Quand:

In 1865 Miss Stevenson took inspiration for her dress from a Parisian plate from 1864. The same plate was later copied by the American Godey's Lady's Book in 1866.

Qui:

Miss Stevenson's first name is lost to history. Her mother or sister-in-law, Mrs. Stevenson, also attended the ball as the same character.

II-60041.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
M. Edward Waldo costumé en « Officier portugais du XVIe siècle », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14.9 x 9.4 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60041.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Historical costumes were the most popular category for both men and women. Edward Waldo is seen here dressed as a "Portuguese Officer of the 16th Century." Mr. Waldo wore this costume to several different balls and carnivals in the 1880s, in both Ottawa and Montreal. Like women, men in fancy dress, enjoyed flouting everyday conventions. Under no other circumstances would Victorian men ever expose this much of their legs. Journalists chronicled a great deal of anxiety among men over the adequacy of their legs and the decision to expose their calves or thighs.

There were limits to the liberties that could be taken, however. Mr. Waldo was the organizer of the carnival in Ottawa in 1881 attended by the Misses Allan. His signature appears on a typical advertisement that clearly sets the boundaries required for such events to retain their moral character: "No gentleman will be allowed to personate a female character. Personations of members of religious orders will not be permitted." A final rule stated that masks could be worn only with permission, which was rarely granted.

References
Ottawa Free Press, 18 January 1881.

Cynthia Cooper, "Dressing Up: A Consuming Passion," in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, ed. Alexandra Palmer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming) .

Quoi:

Edward Waldo's costume incorporates very short breeches over tights, exposing his thighs, though his calves are hidden by boots. Fancy dress balls were virtually the only social situation where men exposed their legs.

Où:

This photograph was probably taken in the Notman studio in Montreal, where Mr. Waldo attended Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's ball and a skating carnival two weeks later.

Quand:

Mr. Waldo wore this costume at least three times in 1881, when this photograph was taken, and again in 1889. He had it remade for another ball in 1896.

Qui:

Edward Waldo's love of fancy dress is evident in the number of events he attended, and fact that he organized the skating carnival in Ottawa in 1881.

II-60917.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Carnaval de patinage, photographie composite, Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé, photographie composite
12 x 17 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60917.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Where's Waldo? He can be found among the throng of individuals portrayed in this composite photograph, created by cutting out many individual portraits and gluing them to a painted background. This composite records a skating carnival held in Montreal, March 5, 1881. Like most carnivals commemorated with a composite, this one was attended by a dignitary, in this case the Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne.

In the background is the ice grotto, which was lit from the inside by gas jets giving off coloured flames. Newspaper articles indicate that it was not quite as impressive as it appears here. The pillars of ice had melted a fair bit, and plaster of Paris had been added to the roof to look like a covering of snow.

The bright lighting from the overhead electric light and the colourful costumes provided a very stark contrast to regular social gatherings, which made fancy dress balls so memorable to those who participated. "Kaleidoscopic" was a term frequently used in the lengthy newspaper reports of these events.

References
Montreal Herald, 7 March 1881.

Quoi:

This composite photograph by Notman and Sandham documents some of the hundreds of individuals who attended the 1881 skating carnival, photographed individually in the following weeks.

Où:

The carnival was held at the Victoria Rink in Montreal. Many other Canadian towns and cities also had a Victoria Rink, named after the Queen.

Quand:

In 1881 the lengthy exposure times required for photography made it almost impossible to photograph a big group successfully. Composites were a means of commemorating an event attended by large numbers of people.

Qui:

The Marquis of Lorne, Canada's governor general, can be seen in regular sombre winter dress in the lower right-hand portion of the photograph, next to a young woman with a drum.

II-60156.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Bethune costumée en « Incroyable », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60156.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Miss Bethune is also a central figure in the preceding skating carnival composite. She was dressed as "An Incroyable." Many fancy dress fashion plates illustrated this character in a similar pose; a manual published in 1887 described it as "a very favourite costume." The incroyables were highly fashionable French men of the late 1790s. In fancy dress, however, the name was applied to women in a feminized version of a slightly exaggerated military costume from about 1789, the time of the French Revolution.

This is one of several military-style costumes that women frequently chose. Other such characters were called "Daughter of the Regiment," "Vivandière" or "Follow the Drum." Their popularity almost certainly resided in the masculinity of the dress that resembled a uniform. This was the extent of the gender crossover, however; there is no evidence of a woman ever wearing such a costume with trousers.

References
Ardern Holt, Fancy Dresses Described, or What to Wear at Fancy Balls, 5th ed. (London: Debenham and Freebody, 1887), p. 119.

Aileen Ribeiro, Fashion in the French Revolution (London: Batsford, 1988), p. 117.

Quoi:

Miss Bethune as "An Incroyable" struck a typical pose for this character often illustrated in fashion plates. Two portraits were taken; the other was used in the composite.

Où:

Miss Bethune is not actually outdoors on ice, but in the studio posing on a reflective surface in front of a painted backdrop.

Quand:

In the 19th century, wearing trousers was highly exceptional for women, even at a fancy dress ball or carnival.

Qui:

Miss Bethune was evidently a guest of some importance, as she was given a central position in the composite, and newspaper articles mention she was presented to Lord Lorne.

II-60087.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Monk et ses amis illustrant « Notre gouvernante Nannie », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60087.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

This group of friends entitled their portrayal "Our Nurse Nannie." Close inspection reveals "Nannie," seated in the centre, to be a man. In spite of the taboos and written rules about men not dressing as women at fancy dress balls and carnivals, some actually managed to get away with it.

For Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's ball in Montreal in 1881, four friends dressed as young boys and made a great performance of looking after their ageing nurse. Most of the time, when such cross dressing did occur, it was for a skating carnival, not a ball, where a bit more decorum was required. People must have enjoyed this group's antics, however, as they were mentioned in two newspaper reports of the ball.

Such portrayals were generally based on one of three female stereotypes: the buxom, feisty, elderly woman like "Nurse Nannie," the innocent young girl and, most popular of all, the emancipated woman, perhaps called "Delegate for the Society of Women's Rights."

References
Montreal Star, 26 February 1881.

Montreal Gazette, 26 February 1881.

Quoi:

This very rare photograph shows a man dressed as a woman for a fancy dress ball. Written regulations often prohibited such portrayals, in an attempt to maintain the decorum so important in Victorian Canadian society.

Où:

This ball was held at assembly rooms in the Queen's Hall, at the corner of St. Catherine Street and University Avenue in Montreal. The photograph was taken in the Notman studio.

Quand:

Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's fancy dress ball was held on February 25, 1881.

Qui:

Mr. J. S. Burrows was "Our Nurse Nannie" and Charles D. Monk, J. O. Wilgress, H. F. Wilgress and James Stewart were the four boys.

I-43757.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle F. Prior costumée en « Fille de l'époque », posant pour une photographie composite, Montréal, QC, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
1870, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-43757.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Miss Prior posed for a composite photograph of a skating carnival in 1870. Her daring portrayal was entitled "Girl of the Period." In 1868 an article with this title authored by Eliza Lynn Linton lamented the lack of moral qualities in modern English girls. The author expresses her culture's fear of female emancipation and sexual anxieties. Mrs. Lynn Linton found the "girl" unfeminine and railed against her slang, her love of fun and luxury, her bold, determined manner and her mannish or excessively fashionable dress, accompanied by dyed or artificial hair and a painted face. Worst yet, in Victorian parlance, she was "fast" with men.

Four young women at the carnival chose this character and perhaps enjoyed acting a bit "faster" than normally permitted:
"Among those who fully sustained their characters may be mentioned Miss Mathewson as "A Girl of the Period" . . . A gentleman in his nightgown and nightcap with lighted candle in hand, in search apparently for his bedroom, caused considerable fright to the females at first, but their shyness wore off, and the Girl of the Period, true to her character, became quite confidential."

References
Montreal Star, 3 March 1870.

Eliza Lynn Linton, "The Girl of the Period," Saturday Review, 14 March 1868. [on line].
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/Ebind2html/vic_lintgirl?seq=1 (pages accessed May 8, 2003)

Quoi:

The "Girl of the Period" costumes generally featured a heavy chignon with large braid, a small hat with exaggerated trim (note the stuffed squirrel), a dark-coloured dress with an apron and mannish accessories like an eyeglass and cane.

Où:

Miss Prior appears to be skating, but is in fact posed in an elaborate set-up in the Notman studio.

Quand:

In 1870 a large skating carnival was held at the Victoria Rink to entertain Prince Arthur who was in Montreal for a royal visit.

Qui:

The "Girl of the Period" character came from an article in the Saturday Review that described fashionable, emancipated young women in very negative terms.

I-43610.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
M. Reynolds en costume autochtone, Montréal, QC, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
1870, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
13.7 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-43610.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Seen in the composite with bow and arrow, Mr. Reynolds as "Quewaygoosquequamteros" is typical of the way Victorians portrayed romanticized exotic characters from other cultures. Many of the people who donned exotic fancy dress acted out stereotypes-men dressed in Aboriginal costume waved tomahawks and gave war whoops, reinforcing the period's widely accepted stereotype of the savage warrior.

Mr. Reynolds's costume is composed of authentic Aboriginal-made elements, all available at this time in the Montreal area, juxtaposed incongruously. His headdress may be Huron-Wendat and his moccasins Cree. Though the beaded accessories are of a Plains style, they are typical of work being done by Native people in Quebec in this period. Reynolds's necklace is of particular interest. At least one of the items on it-a comb-is from the Arctic Thule culture, ancestors of today's Inuit. The comb is now in the McCord collection.

Quoi:

This view of Mr. Reynolds was taken in the studio before he posed for the composite.

Où:

Everything used to create this costume could be purchased in the Montreal area at this time, except for the Thule artifacts from the Arctic worn around his neck.

Quand:

In the late 19th century, using Native-made objects and clothing to portray stereotypical and romanticized North American Aboriginal people was commonplace at fancy dress balls.

Qui:

The Thule comb was donated to the McCord by the Natural History Society of Montreal when it disbanded in 1925.

I-43863.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
H. M. Holland costumé en « Ali Baba », Montréal, QC, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
1870, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-43863.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Mr. H. M. Holland has also chosen an exotic fantasy character, "Ali Baba." The photograph suggests that he has not used any authentic Middle Eastern clothing in his costume. The exotic impression is created by the turban and fake beard, worn with a rather poorly made shirt and loose trousers. One fancy dress manual, in reference to a very similar illustration described simply as "Oriental Costume," stated: "This unique costume is exceedingly simple and may be made at home."

It was generally recognized that many exotic portrayals were pure fantasy, but that was no deterrent to their popularity. One reporter observing a fancy dress ball wrote:
Greeks and Malays with daggers and dirks;
Spaniards, Jews, Chinese and Turks;
Some like original foreign works
But most like bad translations.

References
Masquerade and Carnival: Their Customs and Costumes (New York: Butterick, 1892), p. 38.

Toronto Daily Mail, 24 February 1876.

Quoi:

Mr. Holland's "Ali Baba" costume appears to have been quickly assembled from low cost materials. There is more fantasy in the name than in the costume.

Où:

Mr. Holland has not been located in the Notman composite of the skating carnival, although he did attend and have his photograph taken.

Quand:

In the late 19th century, while such portrayals were popular, they revealed more about Western fascination with the exotic and prejudices concerning the people they intended to represent than they did about the models themselves.

Qui:

Ali Baba is the main character in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," one of the stories from the Arabian Nights.

I-43752.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mme William Easton costumée en « Dame de la Turquie », Montréal, QC, 1870
William Notman (1826-1891)
1870, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-43752.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Mrs. Easton attended the skating carnival as "A Turkish Lady." Like Mr. Holland's "Ali Baba" costume, hers is pure fabrication. For women, the appeal of such costumes was heavily based on the commonly held belief of the greater sexual permissiveness of the exotic "other." A fancy dress advice manual recommended that the darkly mysterious was a good choice for a woman: "If . . . she has the liquid eye that speaks the flirtatious soul . . . [she] may be quite irresistible: for always the unknown allures."

In such costumes women flouted several conventions of respectable female dress. Here the hair, normally worn up, is left long and loose. This colourful costume was adorned with a great deal of jewellery, which would have seemed ostentatious and in very bad taste in any other situation. A still greater departure from the norms of dress can be seen on close examination of Mrs. Easton's hemline; she is wearing very full "Turkish" trousers, though she has almost hidden them from view.

References
Mrs. Aria, comp., Costume: Fanciful, Historical, and Theatrical (London: Macmillan, 1906), p. 185-86.

Quoi:

Like the bloomers of the mid-19th century, Mrs. Easton's Turkish trousers appear very full and are gathered into two leg bands. They are, however, well hidden by a skirt.

Où:

Only Mrs. Easton's head is visible in the composite, on the left side, towards of the back of the crowd.

Quand:

While Mrs. Easton's trousers are very daring by the standards of 1870, like other women in fancy dress, she did not go so far as to wear them without modestly covering them with a skirt or to appear without a corset.

Qui:

Mrs. Easton was married to Montreal notary William Easton.

II-60090.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Macdougall costumée en « Porcelaine de Saxe », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60090.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Peasant or pastoral dress was typically popular for women. Many versions of a romanticized shepherdess were common at fancy dress events, although advice frequently cautioned that only young women should attempt such portrayals. Part of the appeal of such costumes was the shortened skirt and the simplicity of printed cotton fabrics, though ballgoers sometimes gave in to the temptation to use more lavish silks and velvets.

Miss Macdougall attended her mother's ball in 1881 in a version of one of these costumes as 'Dresden China.' This name would have been recognized by her peers as a reference to the popular 18th-century-style porcelain figurines representing romanticized shepherdesses. A reporter noted her lavish materials and success of the portrayal:
"A petite figure of 'Dresden China' was beautifully attired in true fidelity to the idea represented, in rich flowered satin and silk . . . The hair was white and worked in puffs, and completed the effect of beauty, making the costume one of the most striking in the room."

Miss Macdougall does not, however, have a crook, the usual requisite accessory for this type of costume.

References
Montreal Star, 26 February 1881.

Quoi:

Shepherdess costumes were loosely based on a romantic 18th-century style of pastoral dress, incorporating a printed overdress looped up to reveal a shortened petticoat and powdered white hair.

Où:

Dresden china was originally manufactured in Meissen, Germany.

Quand:

Miss Macdougall and her mother were hostesses of the ball held at the Queen's Hall in 1881.

Qui:

Miss Macdougall was the eldest daughter of D. Lorn Macdougall, founder and first president of the Montreal Stock Exchange, and his wife.

II-60114.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Scott costumée en « Marguerite », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60114.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Costumes representing characters from literature, legend or opera were also very popular for fancy dress. Though there is no written evidence as to which ball Miss Scott attended and what her character was, none is needed. She would have been instantly recognizable to her peers as the heroine, Marguerite, in the opera Faust. Features of a "Marguerite" costume always include the satchel on the left side, catching up the skirt, the bodice cut in one piece with the dress, the square neckline over a white chemisette and the sleeves with their horizontal puffs. For the dress, grey cashmere trimmed with black velvet was recommended.

Fancy dress advice strongly encouraged ballgoers to choose characters suited to their age, body type, complexion and hair colour, not to mention personality type. It cautioned against the temptation to camouflage one's true nature. "The character of Cleopatra . . . would not suit a blonde; nor would the representation of Marguerite in Faust . . . harmonize with a brunette." Miss Scott evidently did not heed this advice.

References
Cermer Mada, "What to Wear at Fancy Dress Balls," Saturday Night, 5 January 1889.

Cynthia Cooper, "Dressing Up: A Consuming Passion," in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, ed. Alexandra Palmer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).

Quoi:

The opera Faust told the story of a young girl, Marguerite, who was seduced by a man who had sold his soul to the devil.

Où:

The legend of Faust originated in Germany; hence the stipulation that the heroine, Marguerite, should always be blonde.

Quand:

The opera Faust premiered in 1859. One of the most famous portrayals of Marguerite on the stage in the 19th century was by Ellen Terry in 1885.

Qui:

Marguerite and the devil, Mephistopheles, were popular characters for fancy dress. Faust himself was less so.

II-60011.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
A. G. Lord en patins et costumé en « Arlequin », posant pour une photographie composite, Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60011.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Occasionally men wore comical costumes to skating carnivals, though not usually to balls. Mr. A. G. Lord portrayed "A Harlequin" at the skating carnival held in Montreal March 5, 1881, and was given a prominent place in the composite of that event. The appeal of such characters is easily understood: "The harlequin is a privileged character and plays his tricks and pranks indiscriminately upon the guests," a manual stated.

Another popular type of comical costume was a bottle of champagne or bitters, as can be seen in the lower left corner of the same composite. Giant heads, a string bass and a giant teacup were noted at other skating carnivals. Sometimes a name on a guest list indicates a comical costume. For instance, a Mr. Hopkins attended the carnival as "That Thing on Ice." Most people in such costumes were not photographed.

References
Masquerade and Carnival: Their Customs and Costumes (New York: Butterick, 1892), p. 110.

Quoi:

Mr. Lord's harlequin costume appears to be quite elaborate in its construction and was evidently the result of some effort or expense.

Où:

Mr. Lord can be found in the composite, centred on the ice grotto.

Quand:

Mr. Lord was photographed following the carnival in 1881.

Qui:

Mr. Lord's pose on skates is more dynamic than many others; he struck a similar pose in photographs he had taken in 1867.

II-60083.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Bethune costumée en « Fille au tambourin », Montréal, QC, 1881
Notman & Sandham
1881, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
14 x 10 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-60083.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Miss Bethune, who was costumed as "An Incroyable" for the skating carnival of 1887, appears here dressed for a ball held two weeks earlier. No record survives of her character's name, but manuals and fashion plates suggested similar costumes for the character of "Tambourine Girl." One recommended a low black bodice with a square neckline, a striped skirt in red, black and yellow, and a tambourine hung at the side. Note the many miniature tambourines pinned to the costume.

Upon careful examination of the two photographs of Miss Bethune, the same scarf can be noted draped over her hips and knotted at the side. While the colouring of the photographs is slightly different, the same wide stripe can be noted at the bottom just before the fringe begins, with two rows of knots at the top creating a lattice effect. It is typical to see people wear at least some of the same clothing on several fancy dress occasions. A good costume could be expensive, and even those who did have means recycled elements from one costume to another.

References
Ardern Holt, Fancy Dresses Described, or What to wear at Fancy Balls, 6th ed. (London: Debenham and Freebody, 1896), p. 255.

Quoi:

Miss Bethune made use of a striped scarf in both her fancy dress costumes as "An Incroyable" and "Tambourine Girl."

Où:

This image was taken in the Notman studio, in front of a backdrop chosen by many other guests at Mrs. Macdougall's ball.

Quand:

Miss Bethune's portrait was taken at the same time as those of the other guests at Mrs. D. Lorn Macdougall's fancy dress ball, held February 24, 1881.

Qui:

Miss Bethune hailed from a Montreal family of which several members operated a law firm.

II-24694.1
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mme Dr Hingston costumée en « Dame de l'époque de Jacques V », Montréal, QC, 1876
William Notman (1826-1891)
1876, 19e siècle
Sels d'argent sur papier monté sur papier - Papier albuminé
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-24694.1
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Beyond mere amusement, fancy dress balls could serve higher aims. Mrs. Dr. Hingston, wife of the mayor of Montreal, is seen here as she appeared at the fancy dress ball held by the Governor General, the Earl of Dufferin, in the Rideau Hall ballroom on February 23, 1876. The Earl came as "James V of Scotland," and his entourage took inspiration from the same period. Mrs. Hingston was part of the viceregal party, which also included the Prime Minister and his wife. She portrayed "A Lady of the Period of James V," in a dress of emerald green satin over a white satin petticoat and green velvet cap trimmed with white feathers.

This was the largest fancy dress ball held in this country to date. Eight hundred guests attended, including all of Ottawa's social élite and the families of politicians from across the country. The ball was written up in New York and London papers. It accomplished Dufferin's aim of putting Ottawa on the map as a capital city with social prestige.

References
Toronto Globe, 24 February 1876.

Henry James Morgan, Types of Canadian Women and Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada (Toronto: Briggs, 1903), p. 159.

Ball given by Lord Dufferin. Governor-General's dress ball held at Rideau Hall [photograph]. [on line]
http://data4.archives.ca/netacgi/nph-brs?s1=dufferin+ball&l=20&Sect1=IMAGE&Sect2=THESOFF&Sect4=THESOFF&Sect5=FOTOPEN&Sect6=HITOFF&d=FOTO&p=2&u=http://www.archives.ca/02/02011502_e.html&r=36&f=G

Jack Cohen, MD, "Sir William Hingston," Canadian Journal of Surgery 39 (1996): 422-27 [on line].
http://collection.nlc-bnc.ca/100/201/300/cdn_medical_association/cjs/vol-39/issue-5/0422.htm

Quoi:

Mrs. Hingston's dress was no doubt made by a dressmaker, solely for this occasion.

Où:

In 1876 Ottawa was Canada's very young capital, and the Earl of Dufferin undertook to raise its profile through his lavish entertaining.

Quand:

The Earl of Dufferin was Canada's governor general from 1872 to 1878.

Qui:

Margaret Macdonald, daughter of the lieutenant-governor of Ontario, had married Montreal's mayor, Dr. William Hales Hingston, only six months before attending this ball. Hingston was one of Canada's foremost surgeons of the period, was knighted in 1895 and called to the Senate in 1896.

II-123825
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Ishbel Maria Coutts Majoribanks, comtesse d'Aberdeen, costumée en « Constance de la Tour » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
25 x 20 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123825
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The Countess of Aberdeen, wife of the governor general of Canada from 1893 to 1898, was the next prominent figure in the country to hold a fancy dress ball that would match the Dufferins', and she pushed the entertainment genre to new heights. She was involved in three such events that all received widespread press attention.

Lady Aberdeen did not like entertainment for its own sake, and for each of the two balls she herself held she chose an edifying, morally uplifting theme. The first was the Historical Fancy Dress Ball held in the Senate Chamber in Ottawa in 1896, attended by 1,200 people who each portrayed a character from Canadian history. In 1897 she held an even larger event in Toronto for 2,400 people, on the theme of the British Empire and its benefits to Canada, called the Victorian Era Ball.

In 1898 the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society in Montreal held its own Historical Fancy Dress Ball, patterned after the Ottawa event. Lady Aberdeen chose to represent her very distant supposed ancestor, the Acadian heroine "Constance de la Tour."

References
Dressing Up Canada [exhibition] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/i-1eng.html

Quoi:

Lady Aberdeen designed this dress herself and had it made by her favourite Toronto dressmakers, William Stitt and Co.

Où:

The Antiquarian and Numismatic Society had its headquarters in the Chateau Ramezay, but the floors there were judged too weak for a ball, so the event was held in the Windsor Hotel.

Quand:

January 18, 1898, was the date of the ball, only three weeks after the Victorian Era Ball hosted by the Aberdeens in Toronto.

Qui:

Lady Aberdeen, wife of Canada's governor general, was very attuned to the appeal of fancy dress and used such events to foster Canadian identity and historical consciousness.

II-122875
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Herbert Molson et sa soeur Naomi Molson costumés en « Vikings » pour le bal au Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
25 x 20 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-122875
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

The aim of the Historical Fancy Dress Ball was to create "in the citizens of Montreal a personal interest in their valuable legacy from the past, the Chateau de Ramezay, and with a desire to revive for one night the chateau's traditions . . ." All those attending the Historical Fancy Dress ball had to represent a character from Canadian history. Guests were divided into seven historical sets, each of which was to perform an historical dance. As at the balls organized by Lady Aberdeen, the activity was intended to transcend mere amusement and actually be educational for both participants and those reading reports in the papers.

While most of the characters chosen were from the 17th and 18th centuries, there were a few notable exceptions. Leading off the pageant of Canadian historical characters were a group of eight "Norsemen." Herbert and Naomi Molson portrayed "Thyrker" and "Freydis." The last set was the English governors since the British conquest.

References
Cynthia Cooper, Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada's Governors General, 1876-1898 (Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions & Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1997), p. 137.

Quoi:

Herbert Molson was in a rented costume that had been worn two years earlier by a member of a similar group of Vikings at the historical ball held by Lady Aberdeen in Ottawa.

Où:

This costume had been worn previously at Lady Aberdeen's Historical Fancy Dress Ball held in the Senate Chamber in Ottawa.

Quand:

In 1898 Herbert Molson was 23 years of age.

Qui:

This brother and sister were from one of Montreal's oldest and wealthiest families. Herbert would become president of Molson's Breweries following the death of his father.

II-123099
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Pierre Beullac costumé en « Jean de Lauzon » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123099
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Standing out among the men as being particularly well dressed was a young lawyer, Pierre Beullac, as "Jean de Lauzon," in a costume created by his father. Raymond Beullac was a Montreal costumier known to have rented costumes for Lady Aberdeen's fancy dress ball in Ottawa, as well.

Men frequently rented fancy dress, whereas women were more likely to have something made. Men were thought to have far more difficulty choosing fancy dress than women, given the limited range of choice they were usually faced with. The preoccupation with fabrics, trims and flattering styles required to choose a fancy dress costume was very new to men. People generally waited until only a day or two before the event to rent their costumes. Rental was very convenient for those who did not want to take too much trouble over a costume.

References
Cynthia Cooper, Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada's Governors General, 1876-1898 (Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions & Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1997), p. 139.

Cynthia Cooper, "Dressing Up: A Consuming Passion," in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, ed. Alexandra Palmer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming).

Quoi:

Pierre Beullac wore a gold and blue brocade coat, with yellow satin knee breeches, a frizzed wig and knots of ribbon at the neck, cuffs and knees.

Où:

The Windsor Hotel ballroom had been decorated for the event by Pierre Beullac's father, who was first and foremost a decorator.

Quand:

Raymond Beullac, Pierre's father, had arrived in Montreal in 1874 and established himself as a decorator of churches, then later ballrooms. By the late 1890s, he also had a costume rental business.

Qui:

Pierre Beullac had been practising law for three years and would later become a judge.

II-123117
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Dr Robert Wilson costumé en « Samuel de Champlain » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123117
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Dr. Wilson went as "Samuel de Champlain, 1633." Though he had rented his costume from Beullac, he was described as "one of the finest characters at the 1898 Chateau de Ramezay ball. His costume was not only historically perfect down to the smallest detail, he was the living presentment of the first Governor General of Canada."

Like Dr. Wilson, those who chose characters particularly well-suited to their personalities received glowing compliments, surpassing some of the others, who must have researched for weeks, but whose characters were ill-chosen. Fancy dress was not really a disguise; it was meant to enhance one's true identity-not transform or obscure it by any means. One of the authorities on fancy dress stated that "people at Fancy Balls often render themselves absolutely ridiculous by assuming characters in every way opposed to their own personality." Evidently Dr. Wilson was at the opposite extreme.

References
Montreal Star, 19 January 1898.

Ardern Holt, Gentlemen's Fancy Dress: How to Choose It, 2nd ed. (London: Wyman and Sons, 1882), p. 3.

Quoi:

Dr. Wilson's costume was of rich dark red velvet with gold satin puffs on the sleeves and a mantle of dark purple velvet.

Où:

Dr. Wilson posed in front of the Notman studio backdrop used for so many of the portraits taken after this event.

Quand:

The day before the ball, the costumier Beullac gave a reporter a sneak preview of the garments he was renting. Dr. Wilson's was on the list.

Qui:

Dr. Robert Wilson was a physician specializing in radiotherapy and electrotherapy.

II-123065
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mme Wheeler costumée en « Marquise de Vaudreuil » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123065
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Harriet Wheeler attended the ball as the "Marquise de Vaudreuil." It was assumed that guests in historical costume had carried out research on the individual portrayed and on styles of the period to achieve historical accuracy. The advice on fancy dress and the ball organizers implied that the quest for accuracy was virtually a moral obligation, so the process of selecting an historical costume was generally assumed to be educational and edifying.

The skirt of Mrs. Wheeler's supposedly 18th-century costume was held out with a circular hoop typical of the 1860s, and not the panniers that would have been more in keeping with the period. Nonetheless, the press praised her for wearing a "perfectly correct Pompadour costume." The 19th-century vision of historical correctness was always blurred with notions of attractiveness and good taste.

References
Montreal Star, 19 January 1898.

Cynthia Cooper and Linda Welters, "Brilliant and Instructive Spectacles: Canada's Fancy Dress Balls, 1976-1898," Dress 22 (1995): 15.

Quoi:

Mrs. Harriet Wheeler wore a pink satin hoop skirt trimmed with lace flounces and an overdress of pink and white flowered silk. Her patches-small beauty spots on the face-and powdered hair were frequently a part of 18th-century costumes.

Où:

Mrs. Wheeler posed in the Notman studio in front of a backdrop used for many of the portraits taken following this ball.

Quand:

The silhouette worn by Mrs. Wheeler is far more like that of 1860 than that of the previous century.

Qui:

Mrs. Wheeler was well-known for her charity work, including raising funds for the Ladies' Benevolent Institution and founding the Montreal Society of Decorative Art.

II-123039
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Le sénateur Louis Joseph Forget costumé en « Marquis de Ramezay » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123039
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Louis-Joseph Forget attended the ball as the "Marquis de Ramezay." A comparison with his regular formal portrait shows a drastic modification he has made for this ball-he has shaved off his mustache for the sake of accuracy. "It is altogether incorrect to wear any hair upon the face with powdered wigs," a manual stated.

Evidently, for this ball many men did make this difficult sacrifice. A reporter noted before the ball that "Even elderly gentlemen have offered up on the alter of comme il faut dearly beloved hirsute appendages, and men like brothers passed each other as strangers. Just what a difference a mustache does make!"

References
Ardern Holt, Gentlemen's Fancy Dress, 2nd ed. (London: Wyman and Sons, 1882), p. 3.

Montreal Star, 19 January 1898.

Quoi:

Louis-Joseph Forget as the "Marquis de Ramezay" wore an olive velvet coat with gold trim and olive satin knee breeches. His formal portraits show a thick moustache.

Où:

Forget's house still stands today on Sherbrooke Street in Montreal.

Quand:

In the 1890s facial hair was fashionable and was cultivated by most men.

Qui:

Forget was a senator, as well as president of the Montreal Stock Exchange and Montreal Street Railway.

II-122936
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mme Louis de Lotbinière Harwood costumée en « Marquise de Lotbinière » pour le bal du Château Ramezay,Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-122936
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Mrs. Louis de Lotbinière Harwood attended the Chateau de Ramezay ball as "The Marquise de Lotbinière." She was admired for her prominent and "very effective" headdress, crowned with a black aigrette and blue and white ostrich feathers, which she described as "Louis XV Grande Tenue."

Mrs. Harwood's hemline, however was not nearly so impressive. Close examination of the photograph reveals a rather frayed edge; threads can be seen hanging to the left of her shoe. In fact, the overall silhouette of her dress is anything but 18th century; the style is very much in keeping with 1898. Such remodelling was frequently done, as confirmed by the reporter who stated that "a woman can unearth wonderful odds and ends of evening gowns and reconstruct them into a marvellous facsimile of something historic."

References
Toronto Sunday World, 2 January 1898.

Quoi:

This fashionable evening gown has been remade to look vaguely 18th century for the "Marquise de Lotbinière" character.

Où:

The Notman studio used this terrace prop for many of its photographs of guests at the Chateau de Ramezay ball of 1898.

Quand:

In 1898 a bodice and sleeve similar to those worn by Mrs. Harwood were the height of fashion. 18th-century bodices had a far different shape.

Qui:

The Lotbinière Harwood family could trace their ancestors back to the seigneur Pierre Rigaud de Vaudreuil.

II-123034
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Lady Van Horne costumée en « Dame de la période coloniale » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
25 x 20 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123034
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Lady Van Horne and her sister-in-law were part of the next set, "Explorers, Discoverers and Visitors." Lady Van Horne came as a "colonial dame" in this grey silk damask dress with pink satin underskirt and trim. The garment, now in the McCord collection, shows fine construction and finishing details. It has a label from Lord and Taylor, New York.

Obtaining a costume from the United States was a practice that irritated those who felt the business created by such an event should at least go to local trade. Controversy always abounded about the economic effects of these balls. While they stimulated the economy, they also encouraged conspicuous consumption. After all, garments were created and purchased for a single wearing. A more selfless argument justified the wave of spending by the fact that local department stores, tailors, dressmakers, hairdressers, dancing instructors, florists and photographers would reap benefits from such an event. Lady Van Horne's sister-in-law's costume, also in the McCord, bears the label of a local dressmaker, Miss K. Cunningham.

References
Dress worn by Lady Van Horne as a Colonial Dame, Montreal, 1898 [photograph] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/b-11beng.html

Quoi:

Lady Van Horne's dress and fan are in the McCord collection.

Où:

Unlike the other guests, Lady Van Horne was photographed by Notman in her own home.

Quand:

Lady Van Horne's dress and fan were donated to the McCord in 1970.

Qui:

The former Adaline Hurd was married to Sir William Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway and perhaps the wealthiest Montreal resident. He did not attend the ball.

II-123133
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mlle Maud Terroux costumée en « Baronne de Beaumouchel » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-123133
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Maud Terroux made her début at the Historical Fancy Dress Ball. She was one of a handful of individuals who did not have a costume created for the ball, but instead wore an actual heirloom garment. She portrayed the "Baronne de Beaumouchel," her ancestor, in a dress dating from the 1780s now in the McCord Museum's costume and textiles collection. Those who were fortunate enough to own such garments needed no outlay on a fancy dress costume and were able to draw attention to their family's ancestry.

Maud Terroux's mother, Mary Flora Rolland, had also worn the dress for her début in 1872. Both women made adaptations to the original style of the dress. For instance, the apron was originally designed to be worn over the skirt, but both wore it underneath. They also added fabric flowers and a great deal of lace trim.

Quoi:

Miss Terroux wore a real 18th-century dress, a family heirloom, to make her début at the ball.

Où:

The garment is now in the collection of the McCord Museum of Canadian History.

Quand:

The dress was worn in at least three different periods prior to entering the McCord: the 1780s in its first life; the 1870s and again in 1898 as fancy dress.

Qui:

The garment was passed down through female members of the family, who could trace it back to Miss Terroux's great-grandmother. The McCord obtained it from Miss Terroux's sister.

M966.53.1.1-3
© Musée McCord
Robe de soirée
1770-1780, 18e siècle
Achat de Mlle Annette Terroux
M966.53.1.1-3
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

This is the dress worn by Miss Terroux to the Historical Fancy Dress Ball. The fabric is pink silk taffeta and the weaving technique used to create the blurred floral motif is called chiné à la branche. In this technique the silk warp is put on the loom and printed with the motif. Then the weaving is carried out, and as the warp threads slip and shift slightly, the blurred effect is created. Such fabrics were very much in vogue in the 1760s and were woven in both Spitalfields in England and Lyons in France.

The construction of the dress dates to the early 1780s. The dress includes a gauze apron trimmed with the same silk which, in the 1780s, was worn fashionably over the skirt. Both Miss Terroux and her mother chose to wear it underneath. The fancy dress use of the garment explains why there are machine-stitched darts in the bodice, and why it is accompanied by a machine-stitched underskirt. The sewing machine only came into common use in the late 1850s.

Quoi:

This 18th-century dress was worn as fancy dress on at least two different occasions in the late 19th century.

Où:

The silk may have been woven in either England or France. The dress most probably was worn in Montreal in the 1780s.

Quand:

The style and construction of the dress are about two decades later than the fabric, which was woven in the 1760s. Such discrepancies are typical in garments from this period. The dress may have been made many years after the fabric was purchased or may have been altered from an earlier style.

Qui:

Family genealogy indicates that the most likely original owner of the dress was Marie-Josephte Courreaud de La Coste, who married Jean-Baptiste-Philippe-Charles d'Estimauville in 1782 in Montreal.

II-122901
© Musée McCord
Photographie
M. Norman Leslie costumé en « Capitaine James Leslie du 15e Régiment d'infanterie » pour le bal du Château Ramezay, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17.8 x 12.7 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-122901
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Norman Leslie was perhaps the only other guest whose heirloom garments could vie for attention with those of Miss Terroux. He was part of the same set as "Captain James Leslie of the 15th Regiment of Foot," dressed in what he described as "exactly the same uniform he wore at the taking of Quebec." His clothing is also held in the collections of Fort Henry and the Canadian War Museum.

Leslie's rare grenadier's headdress dates from the period he claims, while the other military accessories are from a more recent ancestor in the 19th century. The Henry Morgan and Co. label in the uniform, however, leaves no doubt that it was made in the 1890s. Morgan's advertised made-to-measure costumes for weeks before the ball. Leslie's inspiration for the costume can be found in the McCord collection, in the form of a miniature of James Leslie.

References
Montreal Star, 19 January 1898.

Bernard Pothier and Roderick Grant, The Leslie Collection, National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian War Museum No. 5 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1975).

Costume and military accoutrements worn by Norman Leslie as Captain James Leslie of the Fifteenth Regiment of Foot, Montreal, 1898 [photograph] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/b12b1eng.html

Quoi:

Leslie's costume is a pastiche of heirloom accessories and garments made especially for the event, albeit to fairly exacting specifications based on a miniature of his character.

Où:

Henry Morgan and Co. was located in Colonial House on Philips Square. It advertised that it would make up costumes for men based on illustrations in a well-known costume history book.

Quand:

The grenadier's headdress indeed dates to 1750-60, though was likely not Leslie's. The other military accessories date to the war of 1812-14.

Qui:

James Leslie of the 15th Regiment of Foot saw service at Louisbourg, Quebec City and Montreal from 1758 to 1760.

II-124256
© Musée McCord
Photographie
Mme Jules Tessier, Mlle Elodie Barnard et M. de Saint-Phalle costumés en membres de la « Famille Lemoyne de Longueuil » pour le bal du Château Ramezay,, Montréal, QC, 1898
Wm. Notman & Son
1898, 19e siècle
Plaque sèche à la gélatine
17 x 12 cm
Achat de l'Associated Screen News Ltd.
II-124256
© Musée McCord

Clefs de l'histoire:

Miss Barnard posed for this photograph between her sister Frances (Mrs. Jules Tessier of Quebec City) and friend Mr. de Saint-Phalle. The three attended the Historical Fancy Dress Ball in Montreal in 1898 as part of the "Lemoyne Family of Longueuil" set. Both women appeared in family heirloom clothes and jewellery. Miss Barnard wore her dress over a chemise to make the very low neckline fashionable at the early part of the 19th century more modest in keeping with fashions of the 1890s .

Miss Barnard's dress is in the McCord collection; Mrs. Tessier's is as yet undiscovered in any museum. The information that the dress had been worn by Miss Barnard had been lost at the time it was donated in 1982, as had any provenance linking it to the Barnard family. This photograph established the connection.

Quoi:

The two women are wearing garments belonging to their ancestors from about 1800-10.

Où:

The dress in the centre is in the McCord collection. The white dress on the left from the same time period has not yet been located.

Quand:

These garments had two lives, one around 1800-10, and one 90 years later, when the dresses were worn at the Historical Fancy Dress Ball in 1898.

Qui:

Both women are daughters of Edmund Barnard, a Montreal lawyer. When Mrs. Tessier had her own portrait done, she wore the necklace seen here on Miss Barnard.

M982.20.1
© Musée McCord
Robe
Vers 1810, 19e siècle
Don de Mrs. H. S. LeMoyne
M982.20.1
© Musée McCord

Description:

La nouveauté la plus frappante de cette robe est la jupe : légèrement évasée à godets obliques et tirant latéralement vers l'arrière. La jupe est montée sans plis à la taille sur le devant, mais par de légères fronces à l'arrière. L'encolure du petit corsage est froncée à l'avant et à l'arrière par des rubans coulissants. Dans le dos, la fermeture est pourvue d'un autre ruban qui assure l'ajustement de la taille haute. Le devant du corsage, de même que les courtes manches légèrement bouffantes, sont joliment décorés de blonde, dentelle aux fuseaux faite main, et de chenille à petits motifs floraux perlés aux lignes ondoyantes réalisée au point de tige et au point feuille. La dentelle a été appliquée par la méthode française de l'entre-deux. On retrouve à l'arrière de chaque manche une petite applique en forme de feuille faite de perles assorties. Une étroite bande de dentelle aux fuseaux faite main, de type torchon, décorée des mêmes perles et ayant peut-être été ajoutée ultérieurement, borde le bas de la robe. Vers 1813, certaines jupes commencent à s'évaser de façon semblable à celle de notre modèle, et cette ligne se généralise deux ans plus tard. Dans les gravures publiées vers 1815 et après, les ornements se font de plus en plus nombreux, surtout près de la ligne d'ourlet. Mais certaines robes restent encore pratiquement dépourvues d'ornements. C'est à partir de 1820 que les manches commencent en général à prendre de l'ampleur. Durant la deuxième décennie du siècle, les couleurs voyantes sont monnaie courante; un jaune éclatant est particulièrement en vogue. (Extrait de: Jacqueline BEAUDOIN-ROSS, Formes et modes : le costume à Montréal au XIXe siècle, Musée McCord d'histoire canadienne, 1992, p.18.)

Clefs de l'histoire:

This dress dates from about 1810, but was worn by Miss Barnard as fancy dress almost 90 years later. Miss Barnard's dress was described in the papers as being of "yellow levantine silk, trimmed with pearls and English thread lace; antique necklace and ornaments of seed pearls and topaz, which articles are nearly a hundred years old and had been worn by an ancestor, Mrs. Barnard, at the time of the Empire, 1812."

The silk twill fabric, once known as "levantine silk," in this dress and the lace and pearl trim match Miss Barnard's description. A silk ribbon dating from the 1890s was donated along with the dress; a back view of Miss Barnard shows her wearing it at the waistline.

Quoi:

This dress exemplifies fashion from the first decade of the 19th century, with very high waistline, low neckline and puffed sleeves.

Où:

The Barnard family were descendants of Loyalists who arrived in Quebec in 1774.

Quand:

This dress was not known to have been used as fancy dress until the photograph was found in the 1990s.

Qui:

Elise Barber, who married James Barnard, may have been the original owner of the dress.

Conclusion:

Surviving fancy dress costume is extremely rare, as it was not frequently saved by its owners. The items which survive in the greatest numbers are those that were heirlooms at the time they were worn for fancy dress. These garments and the archival photographs of guests at fancy dress balls together provide insight into the cultural context of this popular form of entertainment in the late 19th century.


Bibliography



Aria, Mrs., comp. Costume: Fanciful, Historical, and Theatrical. London: Macmillan, 1906.

Cooper, Cynthia. "Dressing Up: A Consuming Passion." In Fashion: A Canadian Perspective, edited by Alexandra Palmer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, forthcoming) .

---. Magnificent Entertainments: Fancy Dress Balls of Canada's Governors General, 1876-1898. Fredericton, NB: Goose Lane Editions & Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1997.

Cooper, Cynthia, and Linda Welters. "Brilliant and Instructive Spectacles: Canada's Fancy Dress Balls, 1976-1898." Dress 22 (1995): 3-21.

Henisch, Heinz K., and Bridget A. Henisch. The Photographic Experience, 1839-1914: Images and Attitudes. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

Holt, Ardern. Fancy Dresses Described, or What to Wear at Fancy Balls. 5th ed. London: Debenham and Freebody, 1887.

Holt, Ardern. Fancy Dresses Described, or What to Wear at Fancy Balls. 6th ed. London: Debenham and Freebody, 1896.

Holt, Ardern. Gentlemen's Fancy Dress: How to Choose It. 2nd ed. London: Wyman, 1882.

Mada, Cermer. "What to Wear at Fancy Dress Balls." Saturday Night, 5 January 1889.

Masquerade and Carnival: Their Customs and Costumes. New York: Butterick, 1892.

Morgan, Henry James. Types of Canadian Women and Women Who Are or Have Been Connected with Canada. Toronto: Briggs, 1903.

Pothier, Bernard, and Roderick Grant. The Leslie Collection. National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian War Museum No. 5. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1975.

Ribeiro, Aileen. Fashion in the French Revolution. London: Batsford, 1988.

Ottawa Free Press, 18 January 1881, 1 February 1881.

Montreal Gazette, 26 April 1876, 26 February 1881.

Montreal Herald, 7 March 1881.

Montreal Star, 3 March 1870, 26 February 1881, 19 January 1898.

Toronto Daily Mail, 24 February 1876.

Toronto Globe, 24 February 1876.

Toronto Sunday World, 2 January 1898.

Web pages

Lynn Linton, Eliza. "The Girl of the Period," Saturday Review, 14 March 1868. [on line].
http://digital.lib.umn.edu/cgi-bin/Ebind2html/vic_lintgirl?seq=1 (pages accessed May 8, 2003)

Ball given by Lord Dufferin. Governor-General's dress ball held at Rideau Hall [photograph]. [on line]
http://data4.archives.ca/netacgi/nph-brs?s1=dufferin+ball&l=20&Sect1=IMAGE&Sect2=THESOFF&Sect4=THESOFF&Sect5=FOTOPEN&Sect6=HITOFF&d=FOTO&p=2&u=http://www.archives.ca/02/02011502_e.html&r=36&f=G

Jack Cohen, MD, "Sir William Hingston," Canadian Journal of Surgery 39 (1996): 422-27 [on line]
http://collection.nlc-bnc.ca/100/201/300/cdn_medical_association/cjs/vol-39/issue-5/0422.htm

Dressing Up Canada [exhibition] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/i-1eng.html

Dress worn by Lady Van Horne as a Colonial Dame, Montreal, 1898 [photograph] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/b-11beng.html

Costume and military accoutrements worn by Norman Leslie as Captain James Leslie of the Fifteenth Regiment of Foot, Montreal, 1898 [photograph] [on line]
http://www.civilization.ca/hist/balls/b12b1eng.html


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