18th Century Costume Archives: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Part I

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) is a surprisingly rich costume resource.  The gowns worn by Helena Bonaham Carter stretch the period of 1773 to the mid 1790s, this particular pink froth representative of the 1780s.  It has the typical 3/4 length sleeves, the lacey engageantes, and ribbon/embroidery on either side of the stomacher.  Of note, the gown’s color is on the bright side, a salmony pink, which would have been worn by the gentry as rich dyes flaunted their dear expense. 

The row of échelles (literally “ladders” in French, sometimes spelled eschelles in English) down the bodice is one of Madame de Pompadour’s contributions to fashion.  Although it’s hard to see from the picture above, the bows decrease in size down the length of the stomacher, emphasizing the slender tuck of a woman’s waist.  They were a popular adornment for the period, worn well past the time of Pompadour’s death in 1764.

Detail of Pompadour stomacher, Boucher, 1759

 

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