Silk stockings with a snake motif embroidery
Place of manufacture: France
Location: Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Art Nouveau fashion beginnings are rooted in the late 80s of the 19th century. Since then the ancient garters were replaced by suspenders, which were fastened to the corset. As a result, the process of getting dressed became particularly quite niggling, but nevertheless the goal was achieved. Also it helped to create S-bend silhouette and it was an ideal shape of that times. Suspenders and stockings of Art Nouveau fashion era were driven by the further development of women's underwear. Stockings of Art Nouveau era came into the spotlight and their decorative role significantly increased. Manufaturers of clothing accessories launched a wide range of stockings, which were adaptable for different occasions. Stockings of the late 19th century and early 20th century were carefully matched to each dress. At that time it was very fashionable to wear more casual cotton or wool fiber stockings which, according to sportswear style, were plain or with dot or stripe patterns.
Image Gallery: Women's underwear ca. 1900-1905.
1 vintage photo, ca. 1900 2. fashion illustration, ca. 1905
Most fashionable ladies usually supplemented their evening dresses with French de luxe silk stockings that were embroidered or adorned with openwork lace inserts. That is why the black silk stockings with applications, embroidery and spangles were cutting edge and striking. It was considered as attractive to wear stockings that were decorated at the instep part - so that in the rare cases, when the long skirts were slightly raised above, they also exposed silk stockings with the brightly decorated parts. For evening festive occasions ladies chose the most exquisite silk stockings.
Snake motif that runs spirally around the leg, became especially widespread soon after the Exposition Universelle (Great Exhibition EXPO) of 1900 in Paris. Such motif, depicted in sequin embroidery, had first appeared during that exhibition and the new Art Nouveau trend was officially launched.
Art Nouveau fashion during its peak around 1900 and up to 1914 demonstrated trend of wearing stockings that were fantastically decorated with openwork inlays. On average, they were black silk lace stockings with a wide range of motifs, including the plants, straw strands, tiny flowers, as well as the anchors and cobwebs which were so popular in the context of Symbolism.
1 Art Nouveau fashion era stockings from the Victoria & Albert museum collections, ca. 1900-1910. .; 2. Silk Stockings (ca. 1900-1910.) from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York .; 3 silk stockings with snake motif embroidery (glass beads, spangles) of the early 1900s from the Victoria & Albert museum collection; 4. French de luxe stockings with lace inserts made ca. 1900-1910.
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.