La Belle Assemblée, October 1813.
“Vauxhall Vittoria Fete Dress”
This Vauxhall Vittoria Fete dress would have been worn at a grand fete, held at Vauxhall Gardens on June 21, 1813, celebrating Wellington’s victory over the French at the Battle of Vittoria. First, there was a banquet for 1000 gentlemen, including the Prince Regent and most of the Royal Dukes. This was followed by a musical concert, also attended by the wives of the gentlemen (one wonders what they did while their husbands dined in splendor), plus another 10,000 or so people.
Normally, one would wear Half Dress to Vauxhall, as it was not a formal venue. But this event was a big, expensive affair, and Full Dress was appropriate. (In case there is any question about whether this print shows Full or Half Dress, the comments in the General Observations on Fashion and Dress specifically name it as Full Dress.)
The print is described in the magazine as follows:
“Short dress of crape over a very slight white petticoat, made more scanty in the skirt than we have seen for some time; ornamented round the bottom with a trimming composed of crape and small pearl beads in the form of laurel leaves, each of which is edged with those beautiful imitations of pearls, and a row also goes up the middle of each leaf, which has a novel and very elegant effect. Over this dress is a Princess Charlotte of Wales’ body [ie bodice], of pink crape; for the front of this body, we refer our readers to the Plate; the back is made uncommonly broad, and extremely low both behind and before. The sleeves are crape over white satin, fancifully ornamented with beads to correspond with the trimming round the bottom; a similar but much smaller, trimming goes round the bosom and back of the neck. A small white crape jacket finishes the dress. The hair cropped behind, and disposed in loose ringlets in front; a superb white lace veil falls from the back of the head, and is taken carelessly on the arm as a drapery; a fancy half wreath is placed on the side. White kid gloves and slippers; emerald necklace, ear-rings, and bracelets.”