La Belle Assemblée, September 1809.
During the late summer and early fall, Society left London for the various spas and seaside towns. This print is placed in Cheltenham, a popular spa town on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The General Observations on the Most Approved Fashions for the Season suggests that London is quite abandoned, so there is no reason to search for new fashions there:
“The flight of our fashionable fair leaves us little of novelty to communicate directly from the metropolis; gaiety and bustle have deserted our streets, and whatever of invention or elegance may be worthy of notice will be found in summer retreats.”
This colorful dress seems appropriate for a summer retreat, and looks as though it might serve as Half Dress in London, ie perhaps one did not wear one’s best Full Dress formal wear to a “Bathing Place Assembly Ball.” I love how the mirror allows us to see the back of the dress.
The print is described in the magazine as follows:
“CHELTENHAM ASSEMBLY BALL DRESS. A Spanish hat, the front composed of green satin ribband of two different shades, wrought in trellis work, the crown of correspondent sarsent in the melon form, ornamented with a wreath of water lilies and sea-weed. A dress of sea-green sarsnet, with Piedmontese jacket, frilled round the neck with scollop lace, and bound with ribband; let in at the seams, the bosom, and the bottom of the petticoat with a sea-weed bordering; vandyked lattice work sleeves of ribband, worn over long lace sleeves. A rich lace drapery, confined to the waist by a band and Sphinx brooch, reaching behind to the bordering of the petticoat, and caught up on the right side with a cord and tassel suspending from the clasp. Amber bracelets, necklace, and earrings. Shoes of pale yellow and green, white kid gloves, and Indian fan, complete the whole of this singularly elegant and novel dress.”