With the weather improving and summer on the way, the fashion colours for 2017 according to Vogue, are ‘Eye-popping fuchsia, zingy yellow and tropical green’ … ‘an array of all the colours of the rainbow’.
Whilst the ‘eye-popping and zingy‘ colours didn’t exist as such in the Georgian era, women did wear strong, vibrant colours as we’ve already seen in our post – Fashionable Blues of the 18th Century.
One of the more vibrant fashion colours of the Georgian era was orange as we can see in the following paintings.
Reds, golds and oranges were all the rage, but achieving such colours for silk was complex and time-consuming as we can see here from ‘The laboratory, or school of arts in which are faithfully exhibited and fully explain’d, Godfrey Smith 1740′.
To dye silk and orange colour
After you have cleaned your kettle well, fill it with clean rain-water, and take to each pound of silk four ounces of pot ashes, and four ounces of orlean, sift it through a sieve into the kettle; when it is well melted, and you have taken care not to let any of those ingredients stick about the kettle, then put your silk, which before you have prepared and allum’d as has been directed; turn it round on the winch and let it boil up, then take and wring it out, beat it and rinse it; then prepare another kettle, and take to each pound of silk twelve ounces of gallnuts, let the gall nuts boil for two hours, then cool for the same space of time; after which put in the silk for three or four hours, then wring it out, rinse, beat and dry it.
Another Orange Colour
Soak the white silk in allum (alum) water like as you do in dying of yellow; then take two ounces of orleans yellow, put it overnight in water together with one ounce of post ashes: boil it up, add to it, after it has boil’d half an hour, once ounce of powdered cuccumi, stir it with a stick, and after a little while put your allum’d silk into it for two or three hours, according to what height you would have your colour, then rinse it out in clear soap-suds, til it looks clear, afterwards clear it in fair water and dress it according to art.
The Fashion 200 years ago
By the time we reached 1817, fashion had changed completely from those raunchy earlier Georgians to the more demure look of the those ladies of the Regency Era and more pastel shades, as we can see in Ackermann’s Repository which provided guidance as to what the well-dressed woman should be wearing in the Summer of 1817.
We simply had to finish this post with a pair of chopines from the late seventeenth- to early eighteenth-century – we know they’re not quite orange – more of a salmon pink, but they were far too impressive to not include. Walking in those must have been a nightmare, especially with their long gowns, but we would love to give it a go.
Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), RA, by Daniel Gardener (1750-1805), Government Art Collection