Recycling gowns is hardly new. It has been in practice in film and television since their invention, and has been common practice in theatre productions for hundreds of years. In addition, it is also sometimes seen in paintings. Many artists have been known to reuse clothing that they painted. For example a yellow house coat trimmed in ermine appears in several paintings by Vermeer. Sometimes the artist owned the actual garment they painted (almost certainly in Vermeer’s case), while other times it may have been an example from a woman’s magazine that they copied over and over again.
This beautiful striped Victorian gown is especially interesting, because it is actually based on a gown from works of art by French artist James Tissot. The reproduction gown itself has been seen in at least four films. It was first worn on Rya Kihlstedt as Lizzy Elmsworth in the 1995 production of The Buccaneers. It was seen again Maite Yerro as Juliet on a movie screen in the 1996 film Evita. In 2000 it was worn by Neve McIntosh as Lucy, Lady Audley in Lady Audley’s Secret, and lastly it was worn on Isobel Pravda as Camille Monet in the 2006 mini-series The Impressionists.
The original gown on which the costume was based was not only painted by James Tissot - it was painted by him numerous times.Tissot was an artist who was mostly known for his paintings of women dressed in their elaborate gowns, and while it is not known if Tissot owned some of the gowns he repeatedly painted or not, the fact that his parents were both in the Fashion Industry might lead one to believe that his owning them would not have been out of the realm of possibility. In Professor Lou Taylor’s book The Study of Dress History, he writes:
Tissot reused favorite garments over periods of two or three years. Thus the notion that his 1870s paintings reflected the most up-to-date fashions may be flawed.
Five paintings in which Tissot painted this black and white gown include: The Captain and the Mate (c.1873), The Return from the Boating Trip (c.1873), Boarding the Yacht (c.1873), Still on Top (c.1874) and Holiday (c.1876).
To see a full gallery of Tissot’s paintings and the beautiful gowns they showcase, go here.
Costume Credit: Katie S., Kiteflier, Shrewsbury Lasses
E-mail Submissions: firstname.lastname@example.org
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