Monday, 8 October 2012

Madame Elise of Regent Street

I am still researching for my next post on Victorian Fashions (riding habits), and am getting distracted by actual riding, as the weather here has been so good and the children have been on holidays.

I did find this stunning dress though, and just had to share it. Its made of silk and dates from the late 1870's.

Dress (Ball Gown)
Dress (Ball Gown)

Dress (Ball Gown)

  The dress was made by Madame Elise of Regent Street, the premier shopping street of the time.

Dress (Ball Gown)

Apparently Madame Elise (owned by the Isaacsons)  was not the best of employers.  In 1863 one of her dressmakers wrote an open letter to The Times exposing the dreadful conditions   Twenty three ladies worked in one room, from 6 in the morning until 11 at night, and overnight on Fridays to get dresses ready for Saturday balls.  They also slept on the premises, two to a bed, and the writer was prompted into action by the death of one of her fellow workers.  Apparently things improved a bit after the outrage sparked by the ltter, but working conditions remained harsh.  A month later Punch published this cartoon by John Leech, in which the ghost of the dead seamstress can be seen in the mirror of the lady in her new dress. Subtle!

'The Haunted Lady, Or The Ghost In the Looking-Glass', 1863. Artist: John Tenniel

You can read more about dressmaking in London and workers conditions in  The London Look: Fashion from Street to Catwalk  By Christopher Breward, Edwina Ehrman, Caroline Evans.

Deb xxx


  1. Oh, you are on the same lines of research as I am following. I might just have to blog up a link to YOUR post.

  2. Anytime my dear - I have visited your blog too and joined - shall we be friends?!


Your comments are very important to me and I read each and every one of them! Please leave your blog address so I can visit.