La Belle Assemblée, August 1816.
“Parisian Walking Dress.”
My favorite thing about this print is the hat decorated with ears of corn. Seriously. It is described as “Indian corn.” I have never seen anything quite like it. It’s a leghorn bonnet. Leghorn is a fine plaited straw, made from an Italian variety of wheat that has been dried and bleached. The name specifically refers to the type of straw, and not the shape of the hat, as is often incorrectly assumed.
This is the period of excessive ornamentation, when every type of fashion is trimmed and flounced and decorated to death. This dress is such an example, but I have to say that all that lovely vandyke lace is rather pretty.
Generally, when a print in La Belle Assemblée names a dress as Parisian, it means it was “borrowed” from a French publication. This is the case here, as you will see below.
The print is described in the magazine as follows:
“Round high dress of fine cambric, or jaconet muslin, ornamented at the bottom with four rows of Vandyke trimming of rich embroidery, surmounted by a flounce of vandyked at the edge. Full sleeves of muslin, à-la-Duchess de Berri, confined by bands of embroidered cambric, and surmounted by imperial wings of clear muslin. Treble ruff of broad lace, and sash of muslin, the end trimmed with lace of a Vandyke pattern. Bonnet of Leghorn ornamented with ears of Indian corn, and turned up slightly in front. Shoes of lilac kid, The hair in full curls, dressed forward.”
This print was copied from the print in the Paris edition of Journal des Dames et des Modes, June 25, 1816, shown below.
It was designed by the famous Parisian artist Horace Vernet. The La Belle Assemblée artist added a long scarf or shawl, and the lovely Regency bench, making, in my opinion, a much prettier print. He has also changed the face from the generic features in the French print to a quite beautiful face. The text beneath this print also mentions the ears of corn: d’épis de Maïs.