Tag Archives: Dueling Fashionistas

Dueling Fashionistas: Lady Jane Harrington v. Jane Halliday

The latest edition of Dueling Fashionistas is fresh from the press, and ready for a vote.  First though, let’s see where the ladies who bear confusingly similar names stand in Reynolds’s portraiture:

The two Janes before you are painted in a pastoral style by the great Sir Joshua Reynolds.  In both portraits one hand is outstretched, as if directing the viewer toward the majesty she alone has seen.  Their flowing gowns are reminiscent of their muses.  Whereas Halliday’s whips on a violent breeze, Harrington’s seems composed, an extension of her easefulness.  The scenery around Harrington is also less elemental than her opponent’s disturbed backdrop of air and shadowed land.

In terms of movement, I find Halliday’s portrait irresistible.  A pale wrapper streams across her arm; her coiffure is romantically askew.  The wind is an influence she cannot control, and in rippling with it she becomes sylph-like.

Harrington’s portrait possesses more restraint.  Her hair is partially undone where it grazes over her shoulder and her gown puddles where she stands, but her general appearance recollects sublimity.  Overall, her tableau is gentler and dignified, the urn and Grecian style robes a nod to classicism over naturalism.

Lady Jane Halliday, 1779 | SIr Joshua Reynolds
Lady Jane Halliday, 1779 | Sir Joshua Reynolds
Jane Fleming, later Countess of Harrington. 1778-79 | Sir Joshua Reynolds
Jane Fleming, later Countess of Harrington. 1778-79 | Sir Joshua Reynolds

Which style do you prefer, and, moreover, does the triumph go to Lady Harrington or Jane Halliday? Which Jane is fairer and why? And do you think Reynolds did the ladies justice?

I’d love to hear your opinion! (Especially regarding Lady Halliday’s shoes — they’re sandals, right?)

Lady Elizabeth Foster v. Lady Elizabeth Seymour Conway v. Countess of Lincoln

Another Round of Dueling Fashionistas Begins With . . . 

Source: Gibe, Wikipedia
Source: Gibe | ‘A Young Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)’

The 18th century was a glorious time for coiffures.  They were absurdly tall, sausage and pin curled, stuck with feathers and baubles and ribbons.  They housed ships and birdcages, were tools for storytelling or political/personal commemoration.  In short, they were EPIC.  Arrive at the 1780s, however, and ladies’ hairstyles fell flat.

I blame it on the hedgehog wig.   Compared with the glamorous, albeit headache inducing pouf, I’d slap the style with an ‘uninspired’ stamp, but they must have held some charm.  They were widely favored for almost two decades, from the 1780s to the 1790s.  Early adoptees touted them as a return to a more natural, effortless appearance, and they kind of are.  Maybe it’s the color–dishwater grey, like a wig that’s been trampled on in the street–or the fact that, as the name suggests, they resemble a hedgehog placed atop one’s head with a dignified curl underneath.  American Duchess replicates it with her own hair, and I must say, it’s attractive.  But the 18th century versions are frowsy.

The Analysis

If we pick the hairstyles below to pieces, Lady hedgehog #1 separates herself from #2 and#3 by wearing crown frizz.  Yes, the nemesis of modern curls was fashionable in the 1700s.  For all that I’ve lambasted this hairstyle, I believe #1’s wig is slightly more becoming.  Ladies Hedgehog #2 and #3 have smoothed their coiffures from the crown, coiled half the hair into a top knot, and curled the bottom.  The style is neater but looks like it would require a can of Elnett to keep it in place.  Hardly natural.

The Verdict

I bear a strong dislike for one and all, but I’m wondering if I’m alone here.  What do you think?  Thumbs up?  Thumbs down?  And what about the clothes? They’re pale affairs, ruffled and feminine down to the empire waist (#1 and #2) or past the fichu on #3, but not objectionable in and of themselves, right?

Lady Elizabeth Foster | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1787
Lady Elizabeth Foster | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1787
Lady Elizabeth Seymour Conway | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1781
Lady Elizabeth Seymour Conway | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1781
Frances, Countess of Lincoln | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1781
Frances, Countess of Lincoln | Sir Joshua Reynolds | 1781

Let your vote be heard!  Who wins this edition of Dueling Fashionistas and why?