Shocking Chartreuse: The Love It/Hate It Color of the Late 19th Century
May 9, 2014
There are just some colors that you either love or hate. My friend Candice, for example, is enamored with orange. According to this bit of fun reading, her favorite color is ranked the least loved by the general population. Poor orange!
Oranges can’t catch a break! Even consumption of the fruit is down…
Another polarizing color is chartreuse. Chartreuse was originally the name of a naturally green liqueur, but beginning in the late 1880s, the term popped up describing the latest emerging color trend:
“At the Toilet Table” by Gunnar Berndtson, circa 1889
Harper’s Poster, January 1895
Ladies’ Demi-Evening Toilet Paper Doll Dress, circa 1896
House of Worth Evening Dress, circa 1899
Visiting or Dinner Dress, circa 1900
Shoes, circa 1895
Victorians had always loved sometimes garish colors, but the chartreuse of the 1890s is one of the most polarizing colors in historical fashion, likely because there are so many variations to love or hate, including “yellow-green,” green gold, and a the original dusky color of chartreuse liqueur. It can range of dark (like the Worth gown above) to a lighter pastel color sometimes called “nyanza.” The bright florescent-yellow version has recently had a modern revival since neon tones have entered the scene again, and the term chartreuse is used to describe a highly saturated, green-tinged yellow.
I recently came across a chartreuse silk shirt at the thrift shop. Normally, I’m not a chartreuse lover– not by a long shot! But this golden-green is so liquid and fabulous! It makes me want to party, 1890s style…
One sleeve has already been sacrificed to the project gods. The rest trembles in fear (mostly because my sewing machine insists on eating it. Slipping a bit of tissue paper underneath helps).
Chris and I will be attending Frontier Days with the DFW Costumer’s Guild tomorrow, so say prayers, light candles, and keep your fingers crossed that we have good weather and my skirt doesn’t billow up over my head in the Texas wind!