Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - All that Glitters is not Golden

Another Amazing Creation by the Design House of "Madame Elise" - Make sure to Click on the picture to view it in a larger format to truly appreciate the incredible amount of detail work involved.  You can click on all photos in my blog posts to see a closer look!  However, not everything that Glitters is Golden.

1880 Evening Gown; Origin - British; Silk; Label: "by special appointment, Dressmaker to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales/ ELISE/170 Regent St. London" - MMA / taf

This is the second gown I have posted up by this Design House (See Pretty Dress of the Day Challenge - Royal Gown).  I had never heard about this Dressmaker before, and decided to do some looking around on the Internet.  After a few hours, I was lead to believe that the name "Madame Elise" is the name of a business that was owned by the Issacsons family in the 1880s.  There is quite a sordid story here.  To see the amazing gowns that they created juxtaposed with the "sweat shop" horror stories associated with this label, I am not surprised it is not popular, even hundreds of years later. 

I found an obscure reference in a Sothebys catalogue giving provenance to an item they offered for sale in 2009 that was once owned by the Mr Henry Stapleton, 9th Baron Beaumont (1848-1892).  Mr Stapleton, being of restricted finances, determined to marry Ms Violet Issacson in 1888.  Ms Violet being the only daughter of Mr and Mrs Issacson, he sought this marriage as a means of improving his financial situation.  The mother, Mrs Issacson, being the original owner of the Design House known as "Madame Elise".  Things did not turn out well for him.  It makes for an interesting read:

There is further information about the Mr & Mrs Issacsons in the book "The London Look: Fashion from Street to Catwalk", page 48 to 50.  There is a reference to a "Punch" cartoon dated 1863 by John Leech titled "The Haunted Lady" or "Ghost in the Looking Glass" - showing a beautifully gowned young lady with a store clerk standing behind her helping her to dress, but in the mirrored reflection the store clerk is a corpse!

Lastly, I am posting up a link that you might like to add to your "favorites" tab.  The book is very hard to find and the only one currently for sale is listed at $399.00, so this is only a readable link, which is the next best thing to owning it!  There is information on this gown listed on page 50, plus there are pages of other amazing gowns to browse through as well.  Enjoy!

The Ceaseless Century: 300 Years of Eighteenth-Century Costume

 By Richard Harrison Martin, Karin L. Willis


  1. I found your blog via the Bustle page on facebook. FASCINATING read on Mr. Stapleton and the Isaccsons. And thank you VERY much for the Pretty dress of the Day postings, so much inspriation!

  2. Loran! Thank you for your comment, and I am glad you are enjoying my blog notes! I have a lot of fun posting. I hope you check back often, and feel free to ask questions and leave comments anytime!