Titanic fashion, 1912


I’m fascinated by the Titanic – are you? I’m horrified by the terrible tragedy, of course but also can’t help but be enthralled by the glamour of the elegant interiors and, of course, the exquisitely dressed passengers. I love looking at pictures of the artifacts that have been brought up from the bottom of the ocean and am actually watching a film about the Titanic as I write this now. No, not that one, a black and white one.

Here’s some pictures of clothes that date from 1911-12 in the collection of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Of course, Downton Abbey fans may like this too as the series starts in 1912 just after the sinking of the Titanic…

Mme Jeanne Paquin, evening dress, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

American day dress, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mme Jeanne Paquin, evening gown, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Jeanne Hallée, afternoon dress, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

House of Drécoll, day dress, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Herbert Luey, evening dress, 1912. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Callot Soeurs, evening dress, 1910-12. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Paul Poiret, evening gown, 1912-14. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Callot Soeurs, evening dress, 1911. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mrs Osborn Company, evening dress, 1911-13. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Evening dress, 1911-13. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Plaza Gown Parlors, evening gown, 1911-12. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Callot Soeurs, evening dress, 1911-14. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mrs Osborn Company, evening gown, 1910. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art. I don’t think any of the above deck passengers on the Titanic would have worn a dress that was two years out of date but couldn’t resist including this one as it is so beautiful.

Dinner dress, 1910-12. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

French evening dress, 1910. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Worth, evening gown, 1910-14. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Worth, evening dress, 1910. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.



G&E Spitzer, evening dress, 1910-12. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I think the Titanic exhibition is still on in London – I’m hoping that I’ll get there before it closes so that I can report back about it.

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66 thoughts on “Titanic fashion, 1912

  • Rach

    oh wow, the peacock dress and the Poiret one! Christ – I was born at the wrong time! *laments*

    • Di Charleson

      I think that peacock dress is WOW…. I am going to a Titanic Gala event next April and am looking for a dress to get made.. Aren’t they just glorious. I was born in the wrong era.. I am sure. I love the G & E Spitzer.. how pretty..

      • lynda

        Hello Di, is the Titanic Ball your going to in April in Lucan,Ont? I’m from Lonond,Ontario andam thinkingof getting a limo to take us there and looking for others that might want to share the cost of the limo.

  • Sara

    Absolutely gorgeous! The Belle Èpoque is my absolute favourite fashion era. The Titanic exhibition is coming to Denmark in April, I’m so excited!

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      I’ve never really noted the clothes before as I’ve always been on a huuuuuge eighteenth century trip, but I’m falling more and more for later clothes, especially those designed by Worth.

      Ooh, let me know what the exhibition is like! It’s looking unlikely that I will get to see it here. Woe. :(

  • William Kuhn

    I love these Titanic fashions. Madame Guillotine is my idea of icy elegance.

    Richard Davenport-Hines has got a new book coming out on the Titanic in shortly (in the UK) that I’m sure you and your readers will all be thrilled to read. He’s on the very same lei line as you. You should probably do an event with him. If you can’t find him, send me an email message and I’ll send you his address.

    The main library at Harvard, Widener, was built by a mother whose son, a recent Harvard graduate, had gone down on the Titanic. She spared no expense and so every surface is either marble or oak.

    Bill

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      Thank you! :)

      Ooh, I shall look out for that book, thanks! I don’t know Mr Davenport-Hines or anyone who does here, but will bear that in mind, thank you! :)

      Oh how sad about the library at Harvard. :(

      I’ve been looking through your book and am SO looking forward to reading it! I’m entranced by Jackie now!

    • Sarah Perry-Correia

      True about the library. Grew up in the next down so I have been there many times. Has a large room that’s roped off with an oil portrait of Mrs. Widener’s son and a table where fresh flowers are set out everyday. According to urban legend if the flowers are not changed that often Mrs. Widener’s gift of the library reverts back and everything must be sold. That and in order to graduate you have to be able to swim three laps in the Harvard pool supposedly because Harry Widener couldn’t swim. .

  • valerie

    Yes, I love anything Titanic-related, esp the fashions of that time! Yet again you have posted something I absolutely love! Which old movie was that? I’ve seen both, but liked the one w/Barbara Stanwyk better.

    xoxox

    • Madame Guillotine Post author

      It’s just so tragic and fascinating. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post – I loved finding the dresses for it. :)

      Yes, it was the Barbara Stanwyck film – I wept at the end as it was so sad. :(

  • Lottie

    I adore the dresses from this era and have thoroughly enjoyed oggling at the dresses in Dowton Abbey for this reason. I think amy tragedy of such magnitude as the Titantic but be interesting but without doubt the exuberant glamour associated with it adds to the tale. Lovely post, thanks x

  • Carol Blyberg

    A beautiful presentation of fashion on the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. Love each confection of luscious draping and beading, but the linear contrast of the American day dress is a standout. Bravo to the curators of this splendid exhibit!

    I would have missed this if you hadn’t posted on twitter…thank you!

  • Dewi

    woow!! all of them look gorgeous! thx for share this, melanie..
    i think, we can wear this kind of dresses in prom night party, don’t u think? :P

  • Rebecca

    This is one of my favorite fashion eras! So lovely! Thank you for posting these beauties. I have been admiring your blog for a while but this is my first comment. You totally brighten my days with posts that I am absolutely fascinated with. It makes me want to blog more. Thank you! You have a fan in NYC. :)

  • A Desmoulinist

    Gorgeous! Someone get me these clothes! There isn’t one that I dislike of.
    I’d wish I was a time traveller or someone given eternal life so that I could meet Socrates in Ancient Hellenistic Greece, see Brutus in Rome, say hi to Catherine of Aragon and Marie Antoinette, clutch at Camille and Lucile, interview Robespierre and Saint-Just, skin Danton alive, turn ‘the sharp-toothed weasel’ Jacques Hébert into weasel-paste, meet some Pre-Raphaelites, meet Alexandra of Denmark, Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, and Audrey Hepburn – etcetera etcetera etcetera.
    Alack alack alack, I am no time traveller and I must entertain myself with partially, reading and partially, fantasy.
    With love, one who admires and envies this entire website.

  • LOVE European History Especially Titanic!!

    Amazing website, memorial museum in memory of “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown, a strong-willed role model from the Titanic:
    http://www.mollybrown.org/uploaded-files/2012%20Sponsor%20Kit.pdf

    In memory of the 100th Anniversary. I think this is an amazing memorial idea, and WISH i could go!! But no…I’m only 15…
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/01/11/145058879/all-deck-chairs-are-filled-titanic-100th-anniversary-cruise-is-fully-booked

    • LOVE European History Especially Titanic!!

      Edit:
      My absolute favorite dress here is Herbert Luey, evening dress, 1912. I want my senior prom dress to be those colors!

  • mumofalltrades

    I love Titanic lore too. There is a new centre opening in Belfast’s Titanic quarter in March and I’m really looking forward to seeing it. I hope they have some fashion from the era on display.

  • E.A.

    gorgeous gowns, all–don’t suppose you know of any available patterns for re-creating such fashions by any chance? taking part in a local production of Titanic the musical, opening in April–thanks so much for sharing the photos.

  • Debra Stair

    Love the Titanic era clothing but also love the beautiful bustledresses. Does anayone know where the clothing from Downton Abbey come from?

  • Diane

    I need a titanic evening gown for a party in april, anyone know were I can get one, Ebay has some but not quite right?
    Diane

  • nokomarie

    First I see lovely clothes. Then I see amusing quotes off of late eighteenth century fashions. Then, then I see it, all of these women are wearing my grandmother’s curtains and my mother’s table coths! In fact, I think I recognise some of my great grandaunt’s lamps in there.

  • Sassy Countess

    Hi, I see that you have people asking for Titanic era dresses and items. I do make custom orders and have many Titanic pieces on my page now. Feel free to contact me directly.

  • Kim King

    I’m about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, one in a 100 year dream….I’m traveling on the Titanic Memorial Cruise that sails from Southampton on the 8th of April, bound for New York. My deleamer is trying to find outfits, either to hire or buy and it is harder than I thought!! Either Hire shops have clothing from the 1920′s or it’s Edwardian fashion all of which look wonderfully inspiring. I am trying to accommodate both budget, style and yet be within the era with my outfits, which are a boarding outfit, 3 gala dinners and of course my disembarking outfit in New York. Please help if you know of a website that would fit my requirements.

    Hopeless Titanic Tragic

  • Jenifer Hahn

    Am attending a gala event on April 14 of this year, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. They are recreating the last dinner served and will be accompanied by a 4 piece quartet as seen on Titanic. It should be a very elegant affair and tasteful tribute!
    Am a floral designer and my coworkers have been helping me look for an appropriate dress for me to wear.. Who knew that the peacock feathers that are all the rage right now were so popular in 1912!! Thank you for the beautiful picture! That will be the ensemble for me !!!!

  • Arabella

    I am also attending a dinner, and have been looking for inspiration. These pics are great! Now, I only hope my limited sewing abilities will see me through to the end of my project!

  • Grainne

    well the clothes are lovely but the problem is do you have any 3rd class fashion or clothing i would love to know

  • Muse Swings

    Your comment about not wearing a 2 year old dress on the Titanic is interesting- I’m sure you are correct as the ladies felt the need to be at the very height of fashion in 1912. Some passengers even complained about a young woman who wore a tiara – which at that time had gone out of fashion.
    I am reading a wonderful book called “To Marry a Lord” by Gail MacColl and just read how the women of Knickerbocker set – the old money of New York aka the 400 with Mrs. Wm. Astor at the helm would by gowns in Paris – Worth was one of the most fashionable places to shop – but they would put the gowns away for a year or two. They felt it was in bad taste for their set to show off their money. By 1912 though I’m sure that the “arrivists” and social climbers had changed all of that. I’ve enjoyed my visit to your blog! Beautiful gowns!

  • G Moore

    WOW!- how did we as humans go from having so much class to wearing spandex shorts and worn out tees to wallmart- Your line is BEYOND impressive, however, I would like to see someone do the same for us men .

  • telynor

    Simply exquisite. Let’s face it, clothing these days just doesn’t have the same effect, not at all. (sighs)

  • janice

    we had the titanic exhibit in our city. i met a lady there who had a titantic dinner for her neighbors. one lady dressed like a 3rd class passenger. she brought an old suitcase and i believe she wore a scarf on her hair.

  • Caroline W

    Beautiful display…thanks for sharing! I have a gorgeous green silk evening gown similar to the first Poiret gown, sadly it isn’t Poiret! It has a label in it, but I’ve never done the research. I was thinking about parting with it as I have no place to display it. It needs a bit of restoration as some silk eating bug feasted on the train at some point! :-(

    • sassycountess

      Oh, that is wonderful and sad at the same time! Have you thought about displaying it in your bedroom? I have two vintage wedding dresses displayed this way. One is on a mannequin and another on a satin hanger. Of course, this I would put on a mannequin. Just a thought for you.

  • amy jones

    titcank amy jones buy the Drss all picers and ok with me and ples amy jones in cower DU7 cy8 4clarls cower charissert town and you with buy form me
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  • osi mael

    Hello madame! (: I really enjoyed all of your beautiful pictures of all of the historical gowns its so true… Back then the fashion sense was admirable … Now a days its so different :/ im currently in a fashion production and management class, I love sewing and designing clothing!(: your pictures were all v ery inspiring and made me feel like I was living in the 1910′s! Thank you so much!

  • performinghumanity

    Thank you for this! It’s outside my period of study (I do work on women’s use of costume in 16th-17th c England), but I love Downton and am always fascinated by the social/economic/literary possibilities of dress (how does it lead to my period? Follow from? And in what situation could _I_ manage to wear something like that?)

  • Susy

    Madame Guillotine, this is the most beautiful collection of Titanic time dresses I’ve seen to date. Thanks so, so much for sharing this with us. I am totally enamored with that era. Keep up the great work, I’d love to see more.

  • Heather Bloom

    I’ve just been hired to portray a few female passengers on board the Titanic for a 4 month live exhibit, and am itching to wear a gown such as one of these! Thank you for such a beautiful webpage to browse through. I am inspired….

  • Johanna

    WOW! These are delicious gowns. I would wear one of these any day. I don’t think modern society can match these beauties at all. Thank you for making it possible for us to see these fashions which would otherwise be totally unknown to us.

  • Jill

    I just bought my Mother of the Groom dress for an August wedding. It’s a titanic style by Nataya, mauve & a long tea length. What kind of shoes would work?

  • tori

    there all so great!I’m going to a titanic event at my school and where souse to dance.I’m making the red and black one to dance in!so cool

  • Theresa Feeney

    So beautiful, I think I was born at the wrong time. I really love those dresses and wish I could wear them. Thanks for sharing!!!!!

  • Leah

    Oh my lord these dresses are beautifull , I hate the fashion nowwer days. My cousin and sister even said so themselves that I was born into the wrong era lol

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