The 1780 Galerie des Modes print from which the gown was copied.
The ladies began the gown first thing on Friday morning and finished it just before 3pm on Saturday afternoon. We were fortunate enough to time our visit to the shop on Sunday to catch them in their final fitting, positioning the shoulder straps and setting the sleeves. The shop was a-buzz with seven different pairs of hands hard at work stitching away, putting the final touches on the trim and the ribbons that would secure the polonaised skirt.
...to finish the back of the gown.
The gown is copied from a Galerie des Modes fashion plate from 1780 and features, as the Mistress of the shop explained, one of the most popular color combinations of the season. As we looked at the source print, Mistress Janea shared some of the story of how she approached the reproduction of the gown, choosing to replicate most of the visible details, but electing to make some interpretive choices to change some minor things as well (like substituting bows for the tassels to drape up the skirt, and reversing the colors). She also talked about how they selected another plate from the same period as a guide for imagining what the front of the gown might have looked like.
The finished product is stunning! Apprentice Abby, who served as the model for the gown in addition to working on it, took it out for a stroll upon its completion, demonstrating the very height of fashionable attire to the war-ravaged citizens of British-occupied Williamsburg!
Modeling the finished polonaise!
More about the inspiration fashion plate can be found here at A Most Beguiling Accomplishment. And don't forget to check out the Margaret Hunter Shop's documentation of the project on their Facebook page!