Early 19th Century Ackermann Illustrative Plates Collide With Contemporary Fashion:
Lasell University Students Explore Intrinsic Links Between History and Modern Design
Object ID:
Muelle, Marie
Object Details:
Despite its design, this Elizabethan-style dress was created in 1880 during the Belle Èpoque by Marie Muelle for the opera Jean de Neville. The costume premiered at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, a part of one of the first performances to be lit with electricity. Due to the increased lighting, it was important that this ensemble be more intricate. Such detail included reflective materials such as embroidery, beading, and appliqué, as compared to designs of the past for theatrical performances. The large ruff, V-shaped bodice with squared neckline, and embellished petticoat with overlay are all representative of Elizabethan dress.
Compare to this record: Ackermann Fashion Plate
Cultural Connections:

Both of these fashion pieces share a connection despite their intended uses. The ermine-influenced fur, that borders the cape in the Ackermann fashion illustration, suggests royal connotations. King Edward III of England outlawed the use of ermine during the 12th century to anyone who was not a member of the royal family. 4 Although this restriction eased, ermine-styled furs continued to identify the aristocracy. Even the cape's ruff hints at an earlier reference to styles Queen Elizabeth I might have worn. In this sense, the Ackermann illustration plays at the idea of symbolism associated with royalty and its significance regarding the history of dress. As with the Ackermann illustration, the Elizabethan-style opera dress also references royalty although more conspicuously. The large ruff, fine detailing, and choice of materials, all coincide with formal portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. It would not be surprising, therefore, if the designer, Marie Muelle, used these portraits as a starting place to embrace Renaissance style in drafting the opera costume. Since the dress was made in 1880, a 19th century perspective on dress of the 16th century is revealed through a stunning interpretation.

4 "Ermine," Encyclopædia Britannica, June 6, 2020. https://www.britannica.com/animal/ermine-mammal.
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