Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Research Post: Regency Shoe Roses

"...the very shoe-roses for Netherfield were got by proxy." --Pride and Prejudice

I started compiling shoe and shoe-rose research few months back when working on ball clothes, but didn't have time to post it. So now, without further ado: early nineteenth century shoes with rosettes and bows.  Unless otherwise labelled, they're from the Victoria and Albert Museum (click date under the picture for full listings).
White slippers with matching rosettes, c. 1830-1840, from the Victorian and Albert Museum.

Three slippers with self-fabric or contrast bows to roses, c. 1820, from the VAM.

Low-heeled slipper with rose in accent color, c. 178--1800, from the VAM.

Slipper with self-fabric petal shoe rose, c. 1830-1850, Victoria Albert Museum.

Black slippers with matching bows, c. 1800-1824, Victoria and Albert Museum.

Pale blue slippers, no bows, c. 1800 from Victoria and Albert Museum.

Green slippers with self-fabric bows, c. 1810-1829, at The Met.
c, 1810-1829, from The Met
Slippers with contrast bows, c. 1815-1820, at The Met.
c. 1815-1820, from The Met
Slippers with contrast bows and laces, 1812, at The Met.
1812, from The Met

Observations: All of the shoes appear to be made on straight lasts (no obvious right and left); excepting the earliest pair with its low heels, the shoes are all flats.  Most have open tops, similar to a "ballet flat"; the earliest two pairs from the V & A (and all three from The Met) have shallow pointed or rounded toes; the four later V & A pairs have square toe boxes.  Excepting the earliest (patterned) example, the shoes tend to be solid colored. From the descriptions, these are primarily silk uppers, with leather soles and linen linings.

The "roses" take different shapes: bows, coiled 'rosettes', layered fabric 'petals', and what appears to be a fringe rosette around a button.  For the most part, the decorations tend to be the same color as the shoe itself; of the three with contrasting decorations, two have white bows on colored shoes.  Where used, the laces/ribbons also match the shoe color, save for the 1812 pair in which the ribbons match the contrasting rosette. 

So, to imitate a Regency or Georgian dancing slipper with modern shoes, I'd look for a plain, solid-colored, fabric upper with an open top; no heel; rounded (1800-1820s) or square (1820s+) toes; and minimal right-left emphasis.  The "look" can be further enhanced by adding color-coordinated rosettes or bows, and possibly ribbon laces.  In an ideal world, of course, I'd have snagged a pair of Robert Land's regency slippers before he retired.  Now, I'm thinking I'll just have to learn how to make shoes.  

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