Saturday, 26 April 2014

1840s Fichu Canezou

I woke up to some worrying news this morning. If, like me, you have found the wealth of information on the costuming sites 'Foundations Revealed' and 'Your Wardrobe Unlock'd' indispensable, then you need to read this:-  The Future of FU and YWU
I hope that they are able to meet their target of subscribers. If you don't subscribe, and can manage to do so, then please don't hesitate.

I have been going through my boxes of antique clothing recently. Mum and I are trying to move down to the west country, Taunton to be exact, in Somerset- which is only an hour away from Bath! I was hoping for a larger workroom, but sadly that doesn't look possible. So I have had to start thinking about selling off quite a few pieces which I otherwise may have held on to. I came across this item a couple of days ago:-

1840s Organdy Fichu Canezou (at least I think it is organdy)

I bought this on ebay a year or so ago. At first I thought that it was a chemisette to be worn under gowns, but once I touched it and could feel the stiff fabric, I knew that I certainly wouldn't want to wear it next to the skin. On closer inspection I could see that there were a few clues which might point it to being worn over clothing:-

Inside at the base- large hole

Hole just below the centre of the collar
There were no side ties, so it would have been a challenge to keep it from shifting about. And in the 3 images above I can see where it had been attached to clothing via pins, belts or brooches- there is a hole centre front at the neck, and at the very bottom there are signs of wear and a small tab of fabric at the back of the piece, right at the bottom.

I then went and had a look in the wonderful White Embroidered Costume Accessories the 1790s to 1840s by Heather Toomer, and of course, I found the answers! On page 153 onwards she discusses the various forms of what she calls 'fichu-canezous'. This makes sense to me. It is similar to a fichu as it is worn over clothing, but is more than that, and the lace and embroidery around the outside would certainly have been wasted under a dress.

The lace looks like a point bobbin lace, and is very similar to an 1840s collar that I have which is made to be worn with high necked gowns:-

The shape certainly mirrors the style of bodices of the 1840s- forming into a 'V' shape, and the centre seam that was ubiquitous.
Here are a couple of images to illustrate:-

Morning dress
The Metropolitan Museum of Art c.1845
Fashion form 1841

Here are a few more images of the fichu-canezou:-

It is quite simple in design and decoration. The three forms of decoration used are-
*Padded Satin Stitch Embroidery in a Leaves motif
*Bobbin net lace. Possibly Buckinghamshire Point lace?

It is very discoloured, and has stains in a fair few places.The neck is particularly bad. My camera has not picked up these faults. But it is far from awful, and the holes apart from those mentioned above are few.

From top of collar to back hem- 16 1/2''
Circumference of Collar- 13 1/2''

I am off to list this on my etsy shop. I hope that it eventually finds a good home. Enjoy your weekend!
with love,