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Lead

and

Lace

A Comparison Between Display Faces and Underclothes


Megan E. Gadient Typography III John Kane Spring 2009 Fashions in American Typography Edmund Gress Nineteenth Century Ornamented Types and Title Pages Nicolette Gray Dress and Undress Elizabeth Ewing Colophon Berthold Akzidenz Grotesk 8/12, 10/14, 16/20, 20/24, 24/28 Bernard Condensed 60pt Edwardian Script 80pt Falstaff 42pt Rosewood 48pt Cottonwood 48pt Futura Extra Bold 38pt Wausau 24lb Paper


Table of Contents 5

1780–1832

15

1830–1865

33

41

1865–1900 1900–1930


1780–1832 The 1780s marked an upheaval in women’s fashion. The new vogue as for slim, high-waisted muslin or cotton gowns, clinging to the figure and worn ith the minimum of underclothing, sometimes with only flesh-colored tights beneath

The typography of 1780 at its best had the same good taste as furniture and architecture, and a quaint something I shall always like. Capital sand small capitals were usually letterspaced in Eighteenth Century typography, but in many of the specimens of 1780 I find the compositors getting a bit careless about this custom. Perhaps the spirit of change was already upon them. A printing text book of 1770 explains the custom: “Capitals, being ensigns of honor and dignity, we space properly all such Words as are set in Capitals, to set them off more conspicuously.” This about initial letters: “After a two line letter, it is customary to put the next letter a Capital, when the word consists of more than one syllable; or set the whole word in Capitals, if it is a monosyllable. The French often put a Capital after a two-line letter, and the rest of the word in Small Capitals.

them. The Ladies Monthly Museum of June 1802 described ‘the close, all white, shroud-looking, ghostly chemise undress of the ladies, who seem to glide like specters, with their shrouds wrapt tight about their forms’. In March 1803 it referred to ‘young ladies who were dressed or rather

Newspaper advertising typography in 1776 was a simple matter. Two-line initials, and long primer type, with a few words in capitals, with small capitals occasionally introduced, set to twenty picas measure, and made up the compositor’s bag of tricks. Each size of type had its metal flowers. These ornaments took the form of flowers and leaves, sea shells, crowns, skull and crossbones, hour glasses, beads and the like. They are sometimes used in single bands and other times were combined into deeper headbands. The ornaments blended with their accompanying type pages for two reasons: because they were engraved and caste as

undressed in all the nakedness of the mode’. It was a fact that little girls, especially English ones, wore this style of dress from the 1780s, before women did. These dresses, and the correspondingly simple skeleton suits of small boys, adopted about the same time, ere the first distinctive children’s fashions – hitherto children had been dressed as miniature adults. The change was deeply rooted in new, liberal attitudes to children and a new recognition of their distinct needs and rights. As this freedom built up, it began to affect adult clothes. English fashion was already freer and less formal than that of France, mainly because so much of English life was traditionally centered upon country life. So French fash-

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ion start-ed turning to England, and the English to child’s dress, spreading from the small to the not so small girl, was a natural source. The new style of dressing, without any of the accepted complicated underwear also had affinities with the straight robes seen in Greek Statuary and vases, the classical tunics, worn without any supporting or concealing underwear. Devotees of the new French regime rejoiced in harking back to the first famous Republic, that of ancient Greece, which they regarded as the very birthplace of the freedom that Revolutionary France was proclaiming.

types, and because the same size of body could be used. This is also the first time where we see ornamented letters appear. Many are open or shaded faces that appeared particularly on engravings of the time. The first step in the break away from the Renaissance tradition in typography was the invention of the modern face. Until the middle of the eighteenth century one pattern of type design was universal in English books; that designed by Aldus Manutius in 1495. Apart from this standard Roman, black letter, italic and script types were in use for suitable contingencies, and one or two ornamental faces had been cut, designed to enliven title-pages. In the middle of the eighteenth century, English typefounders began to introduce variations into the Aldine tradition. Baskerville’s slight differentiations were emphasized when his design was

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recut by Wilson and Fry, and yet more revolutionary were the types advertised by John Bell in 1788. By 1800 in England, as in France and Italy, the modern face had succeeded in the Aldine tradition. From the point of view of ornamental typography the introduction of the modern face is important, partly as a gesture proclaiming the freedom of the designer to invent and experiment, partly as an intermediate step in the creation of the fat face. With the invention of the fat face the stage is set for the development of the new art. In it we have a face designed expressly for jobbing printing, not for book work, and one which is obviously intended to be neither normal, unobtrusive nor beautiful, merely expressive. The new market, that of advertising printing has been recognized, and the idea of calligraphy discovered. The fat face is usually considered to be a swollen version

of the modern face. If we are to accept this account it is necessary to modify Mr. A. F. Johnson’s definition of the characteristics of modern face as (a) flat and unbracketed serifs, (b) abrupt and exaggerated modeling, (c) vertical shading. These characteristics apply to modern face regarded as a book type (as it essentially is), and are based on the design of the lower case. If e study the upper case in English modern face designs it becomes clear that the first characteristic must be relinquished. In the foreign types, cut by Bodoni and Didot, the unbracketed serif is very noticeable. In England the same flat hairline serif is much in evidence, though not in letters of so large sizes as abroad, and it is apt to be bracketed where it terminates a thin vertical stroke, and from the beginning, an alternative upper case design appears with long, thin, but slightly bracketed serifs.


Extreme devotees of the new fashion discarded the corset completely, or reduced it to a narrow band very like the Greek zoné. Others wore very narrow corsets and records of the time tell of a slump in the previously flourishing staymaker’s trade. That nothing as worn under the dress seems to be largely mythical, as is the uncorroborated story that dresses were damped to make them cling to the bare body, but underwear was often reduced to a mere single narrow petticoat, sometimes colored, under the white dress. For those who believe that one constant feature of fashion is to stress one part or another of the female body in order to attract man’s interest, the characteristic dress of the Regency and Empire provides a startling example. With the slim sheath arrived the first

‘bust improvers’. They were a sufficiently important feature of fashion to spur The Times to say in 1799: ‘The fashion of false bosoms has at least this utility, that it compels our fashionable fair to wear something’. There are descriptions of these items in various contemporary records. They were made of wax or of stuffed cotton and are shown in illustrations. They disappeared, however, with the change in fashion which began about 1820, and did not reappear until well into Victorian days.

The greatest change in feminine underwear to date from this time was the introduction of drawers. Until the late eighteenth century underwear consisted only of smocks or shifts, stays, and the highly important petticoats of all kinds. These were seen hanging below the dresses, and when omen followed suit, their drawers too were visible from about 1790 till 1820. They then disappeared from sight, but those of young girls continued to be seen until well into the second half of the nineteenth century.

I should define the fully developed fat face as a large letter with (a) vertical shading, (b) abrupt modeling, so exaggerated that the thick stroke is nearly half as wide as the letter is high, and (c) certain characteristic forms, all tending to emphasize roundness in the letters; R with a curly tail, short ranging J terminating in a round blob, Q with a tail making a loop within the bowl, S, C and G with barbed terminals and G with a pointed spur. These letterforms are found in all the original fat face designs, they are also characteristic of modern face design but are not found in book faces with anything of the same uniformity. The origin of the fat face is obscure and complex. The largest step in its evolution was the introduction, for advertising purposes, of normal letters enlarged beyond the scale of normal book work. According to Row Mores this innovation was due to the English

typfounder, William Cottrell. His book of 1766 shows a twelve-line pica letter. The idea was taken up by other founders and later letters tend to grow bigger and fatter. The type designs of the reign of George IV reflect the distinctive new phase of the style formed during his Regency. There is less of pompousness and of frivolity and more of solid worth. The revivalism goes deeper and has an unmistakable romantic tinge. One is reminded that the heroic picture is giving place to a type of painting still large and still didactic but grow- ing more domestic. It is the period of Belgravia instead of Regent’s Park. But if type tends to e neater it is also richer, as if Wilkie had something of Etty’s bloom or Mulready something of the verve of Lawrence. It has more weight, too. Here is a classicism not altogether illuminated with the sunlight of Greek rationalism, the heavy forms are

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oppressed with the burden of their weight, the shadow of the Egyptian collection which it as to house seems cast over the façade of the Museum. It is significant that the typical letter of the period was called at its first appearance Antique but that the alternative name, Egyptian became the common usage. The distinction between the two civilizations is not always altogether clear in the minds of the revivalists. The Egyptian is, I think, the most brilliant typographical invention of the century, and perhaps the most complete and concise expression of the dominant culture of its brief period; more inspired than contemporary paintings, combining the elegance of the furniture, and the weight of the architecture, and the color and precise romance of the Bulwer Lytton.

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The characteristics of the face are evenness of the line and thick slab serifs. Instead of the weak lines and thin serifs of the fat face here are magnificent solid stems founded on serifs like rocks. All the color and emphasis is retained without that suggestion of insufficient support to its grandeur, which is the weakness of the first display type. The difficulty of making terminals to the arms of the T and E which shall be firm enough without being too curved or too pointed is overcome by the neat yet solid slab, while the very short ascenders and descenders of the lower case make the type wonderfully terse and compact. The founders succeeded in mastering the principles of the upper case letter with amazing skill, noticeably different from their clumsy control of the sans serif when it first becomes popular.


Introduced at the same time were corsets that had cup-shaped bust sections inserted into them instead of merely pushing up the bosom or flattening it, as had previously occurred. Then, as the Regency style went out of date, curves were aided by the addition of below-waist gussets in corsets. In 1816 a further extension of this

It is in this period that the vista opened by the revolution in typographical purpose is first explored. If the purpose of a letter is to be expressive, it follows that its differentiations may be in infinite variety. Between 1810 and 1815 were developed not only the two principles for the variation of lettering, by modification of the form and by decoration of the face, but also the idea which enormously enriched the possibilities under either principle, that of the three dimensional letter. The first shadowed letters are characteristic and distinct from all the hundreds of letters to follow. They are all fat faces, white outline letters with a heavy black shadow. Here again the founders seem to be providing compensation for the thin stems and hair serifs of the fat face; they seem to have been very conscious of its inadequacy. The appeal of the obvious illusion is hard to explain

trend came in the oddly named Divorce Corset, which referred to the separations of the breasts by the means of a padded triangle of iron, or steel which was inserted into the center front of the corset with its point upwards. It was short-lived and left no impression on the solid Victorian shelf-like bust. Although so much less underwear was worn from the end of the eighteenth century, in some

ways it became more important. The idea of physical cleanliness had not been given much importance in the past, but it was pursued with extreme zeal in this era, and was raised to being almost the ultimate test of good breading and gentility. It pervaded society steadily, becoming part of fashion and leading to underwear being given more attention, being changed more frequently and therefore possessed in larger quantities. From this time on it attracted much more attention and acquired increasing variety.

or to deny. These faces, light yet square and solid, are enjoyable without being particularly characteristic of either a mood or a period. It is as if the designers were absorbed in enjoying the ingenuity of their on invention. The introduction was immediately enormously popular. Every founder came out in a wide range of sizes, many with italic. The presence of ornamented types also started to grow at this time. The first ornamented types are rather dull and clumsy; they are important as technical innovations but the designers have not yet sufficient mastery of their new medium to enable them to use it with sophistication. They were also no doubt hampered by technical difficulties in casting.

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1830–1865 By about 1820 the pared-down, figure-clinging style of dress had disappeared and a start had been made on the build-up of outer garments and, even more, on the growth in the number and variety of undergarments which

Of all the changes in mood demonstrated in nineteenth-century typography that of 1832 is the most abrupt and appalling. It is as if the consciousness of all the world of poverty and effort and progress which had been living and growing under the veneer of Regency culture had suddenly become urgent and articulate. The moods which find expression now are not variations of a unified aristocratic style – exercises in sophistication – but crudely divergent. There are three strains quite distinct and unreconciled; of these one comes out with far more emphasis in the specimen books. Between 1831 and 1833 they are transformed; the old genial and fantastic types have been pushed into the background and already look old fashioned. Flowing italics and jovial lower case letters are out of favor. In their place are compressed fat faces

was to be a dominant feature of fashion for the rest of the century. Victorian materialism and the rise of the great, increasingly numerous and prosperous middle classes, socially ambitious and class-conscious, were part of an immense social revolution of which fashion would carry the imprint in its own ways. More and more of the populace were going to be involved in fashion as clo-

thes manufacture and retailing grew and developed. After the long, straight corset of 1800-1811, which was suited to a more or less straight fashion line, there came a shorter but stiffer version which pushed up the bust but was mainly designed to emphasize the waist and, very soon, to pull it in with the utmost

and heavy sans serifs. The new world is earnest and serious and not even letters may be irresponsible or insincere. There is no mistaking the atmosphere of the year of revolutions abroad and of the Reform Bill at home. The general conscience is at last awake to the accumulations piled up y the Industrial Revolution in its undirected course, to the conditions of unmitigated hardship, ignorance and indecency into which a great proportion of the population were sunk, and at the time to the triumphant vista of human progress and the conquest of nature. These new letters seem to compress into their gaunt angularity the essentials of the evan-

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gelical attitude of early Victorian England; the ill to face the dreariest facts, unflinching confidence and tyrannical dogmatism. The sans serif is not an invention of this period, nor is it ever used normally at this date, though it is now for the first time in common use. The ordinary are not so heavy and mechanical, but more threatening; instead of the inert rows of sans serif letters, these seem almost alive. The triangular serifs have grown longer and sharper, the counters of the letters have grown into mere slits in black walls. The second strain does not call attention to itself in the specimen books. One hardly notices the introduction of the first outline types in 1833, for not only are they very light, but also very small. The outlines are delicately cut and very fine so that the faces are ethereal. The forms of the letters are elegant and humanistic.

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severity of thight lacing, which as to continue for the rest of the century and even beoyoned it. Doctors were to condemn it, writers and others to decry and deplore it, cartoonists to satirize it, but it continued to be a main essential of the fashionable look. It was encouraged by fashionable schools. Mothers regarded it as necessary to their young daughters’ future social success. There were claims galore that, if started early, tight lacing would

what we would call casual wear, during the day in the house. There was also the introduction of the peignoir or negligee – something between a dressing gown and outerwear, which could be worn without a corset and which became famous from the 1870s to the end of Edwardian days as the tea gown, another example of underwear becoming outerwear. The chemise remained unchanged in shape at this period, still around knee-length, wide and

not be painful or damaging to the health. Despite the arguments and protests it went on. There were, however, a few palliatives, including light-weight corsets for

sometimes with sleeves. Drawers became more generally worn, extending to almost all the middle classes and becoming a status symbol of all but the poorest. The main feature of women’s underwear was, however, once again the petticoat – or rather petticoats, because the multiplication of this

Finally, there is a third strain which has its origin before and its final development after this decade. In the Regency books are a number of faces which look experimental, which do not quite fit in with the character of the other designs. The idea now reaches a sort of norm in an outcrop of big outlined Egyptians and sans serifs. All these types are heavy and clumsy, but too fat and lumpish to be classed with the compressed sans serifs and fat faces. The next development is a series of types, Egyptian or compressed fat face in form, with patterns of scrolls, leaves, roses, thistle, or convolvulus engraved on the face. Sixteen similar fonts appear to have been cut in all. The effect of these letters is very like that of a wood engraving, and though a word is dazzling, each letter is pretty and the patterns skillful, neat and charming. The idea however, does not


seem to have come to much it was never generally taken up. The typographical manifestations of the early Victorian ‘exuberant’ style are as whole-hearted as those of the decorative arts which loom so large among the exhibits of 1851. Here are the exact counterparts of those carpets heaving with luscious fruit and flowers, those sideboards burgeoning cornucopias and dolphins where ‘the vine, hop and oak flow in clusters, with the hound and wild boar on each side’. The dates of the first appearances of the types are an interesting indication of the extent to which the great majority of the more elaborate objects in the Great Exhibition must already have been old fashion in 1851. It remains to explain how a nation could in one decade be sternly evangelical, exquisitely graceful and innocent, and exuberantly overdecorated.

garment was an outstanding feature of underwear of the first half of the nineteenth century. The fashionable outline was, year by year, becoming more closely waisted, more full in the skirts, and under these skirts went not one but several petticoats, under ones of flannel or plain cotton, with the final one probably embroidered or lace-trimmed, ut at this time puritanically white. From then 1820s there as a return of the bustle, first as a small,

on at the waist, not attached to the petticoat. It was worn by all classes. In the 1840s, there was a still further widening of the skirts by means of a combined bustlepetticoat of horsehair fabric. In 1851, fashion for the first time had a spanner thrown into its works – the start of a series to be directed against the established order which had persisted for about 300 years, only briefly disturbed by the turn of the century upheaval. Mrs.

down-stuffed or cotton-stuffed pad at the back, but before 1840 as a larger and more extensive addition to the natural figure, reaching around the side, sometimes fortified with whalebone. It was tied

Amelia Bloomer launched in America the famous outfit which was known by her name and

The decade of the forties produces, typographically, a remarkable unity. Of all the periods of the nineteenth century it is the most at one with itself. It transforms every sort of letter according to its spirit of extravagance and mysticism. The two chief inventions of the thirties are taken up and reconciled. The grim compressed types are made to appear prophets of the perpendicular with its almost mystical meaning, while the fine lines of the outline faces are elongated into curls and nets and intricate mathematical combinations. There is one adjective which spontaneously presents itself as one looks at these letters of

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which had a considerable vogue there, being linked with the rising agitation for women’s rights. She was not, however, its inventor, but was a journalist and author promoting, in the interests of rational dress for women, an outfit created by Elizabeth Smith Miller, who wore it on a visit to Seneca Falls, NY, where Amelia Bloomer lived and where she saw

and admired it. Aimed at freeing women from the discomforts and folly of conventional fashion, it was not very alarming by today’s standards, but in Britain at that time it was regarded variously as horrifying, immodest, ridiculous, and hideous. It was also during this time that the first sewing machine was invented. It is, incidentally, a curious fact that when it was shown at the Great Exhibition of

1851 the sewing machine attracted very little attention. It as not even mentioned in reviews of the Exhibition. None the less, the sewing machine from this time onwards came increasingly into use and it was to be largely responsible for an entirely new conception of clothing, a new era of mass production, an increasing rapidity in fashion changes and, not least, the development of corsetry and underwear manufacture as a major industry with a turnover of many million dollars a year. By 1856 the weight and bulk of petticoats exceeded anything seen in the past and made a re-

the forties and that is ‘Gothic’, that stage of the Gothic revival of which it is all passion and no antiquarianism. Gothic is unfortunately a word of very diverse interpretation. We habitually underestimate the nineteenthcentury Gothic revival when we assume that the Gothic was a passing phase in architectural history, like the Romanesque. It was not a style but a language; like scholastic philosophy, a world in which the mind could move freely. Having established first principles consonant with reason, and reached convenient solutions to the main problems of construction, the philosopher or designer could concentrate on the grandiose or gambol in necessity of continually having to start again at the beginning he could enjoy a variety of sophistications equal to the Chinese. It is indeed the only European style in which the whole range of human experience,

scientific intellect or flights of imagination, has found expression. And the early Victorians needed a world for their imagination. With all the riches of nineteenthcentury romantic art for our background, we forget the paucity which the post romance always intellectualized, classical, tinged with worldliness, or self-conscious. It was in the forties that the demand which has culminated in surrealism became urgent. It is a significant point that by 1840 letters had so far become a medium to the Victorians that they were able to catch this spirit of the time of passion and fantasy without resorting to Gothic models. The note of the new mood is set by the introduction of a new degree of elongation. The degree of compression of the letters of the thirties had varied considerably according to the size, particularly in sans serif, where the smaller

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markable contrast to the ethereal underwear of half a century before. The appearance of the fashionable lady of the time is detailed in Modes and Manners: ‘In 1856 the underclothing of a lady of fashion consisted of long drawers trimmed with lace, a flannel petticoat, an under-petticoat three and one half yards wide, a petticoat waded to the knees, and stiffened on the upper part with whalebones inserted a handsbreadth from one another, a white starched pet-

The crinoline, or ‘cage’ crinoline, came into the fashion picture at this point, and though it was to be ridiculed and denounced even more than earlier excesses in fashion, it was a liberation to limbs previously pent beneath so many petticoats. According to one writer it was, briefly ‘a light metal or whalebone structure in which hoops were placed horizontally one over the other and held together by curved ribs’.

Alternatively, tapes held the tiers of hoops in place. The petticoats, except for one slim one, could be discarded. There were also various records about this time of inflatable rubber tubes being used to form a bell-like framework for one version of the crinoline. Also, there was a garment inflated by bellows, and deflated to enable the wearer

ticoat with three stiffly starched flounces, two muslin petticoats, and finally the dress.’ There would also, presumably, be a chemise and a severe corset under all that.

sizes always tended to become almost normal. But the new elongated is a drastic change, and with the change in proportion comes a change in character. The lower case letter which had been coming in gradually, had modified the character of the compressed letter: the horizontal strokes being nearer together, but less fat, and the curves instead of diagonals relieving them, the effect is of parallel perpendiculars instead of black masses. The effect of the new type is the same: in the larger sizes the awkward letters like C and S are deliberately turned into extravagances. The face has cut the symbolism of the Gothic spire. Elongated sans serifs and Egyptians are also designed, but in them the change is not so expressive. Square forms are not easy to Gothicise. The new faces are simply smaller, slightly more compressed and far more

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to sit down. Presumably, she had to carry the bellows to re-inflate when she stood up again. At the same time numerous stiff, starched, frilled muslin petticoats were still being worn to create the same effect by less drastic means. The metal crinoline, which was to dominate fashion for more than yen years from 1856, had the great merit of lightness, and most fashionable women welcomed it rapturously for this and for the freedom of having their limbs unencumbered by heavy layers of petticoats. The crinoline grew continuously larger in the years after 1856.

neatly and compactly designed. Neither the Egyptian nor the sans serif were sympathetic to the mind of the forties. Instead they invented two new varieties of semi-ornamental letters which frequently replace them in the printers’ display. The Grecian or Rounded are both founded on the simple idea of taking the corner off the letter. The Rounded is simply a sans serif with the terminals rounded. The Grecian is more important. It is taken from the compressed Egyptian, and so it is cramped and angular but no longer menacing. The inventive genius of the forties, however, is for ornamented types. The most reasonable classification of all this multiplicity seems to be into three categories: flat ornamented shape, three dimensional letters, and letters with a background. Flat letters are expressive, reinventing the line of the letter to become ornamental

or patterned, turning each line into its own shape. Three dimensional letters use a drop shadow to give the wanted effect and are usually decorated within the letter with leaves, flowers, or other natural material. Letters with a background are white letters mounted on a black, decorated background. The letters of the forties used the Gothic revival as a means of creating storybook typography. The books of the fifties show a second revolution in mood. The

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The space it took up made social life complicated and provided endless scope for quips and car toons. It was so difficult for women to get onto buses wearing it that there was a suggestion that crinolines should be shed and hung up outside the vehicle. As the cage was light and volatile, there were endless ac-

cidents. Various devices were invented to make the crinoline less unmanageable; of these the Pompadour consisted of a series of strings, apparently pulled like a Venetian blind the length and width of dresses rendering it quite indispensable to hold them up. Apart from its social inconveniences, the crinoline had other more serious drawbacks. Unlike the farthingale and hoops, it was worn by all classes in the new manufacturing age, when it could

by the recently invented sewing machine. The crinoline was worn therefore by women factory workers and caused havoc here fragile materials were being made. More serious was the danger of fire. It was only too easy for the extended skirt to sweep right up

be machine-made and when the accompanying wide skirts and fitted bodices could be produced

spirit which united the forties is dissipated. Instead the books are full of light, medium-sized, practical faces. The old heavy black letters have been pushed to the back of the books; many of the intricate black faces and patterns have disappeared; the soaring perpendiculars have lost their meaning. Most of the new types are slightly compressed, but so designed one feels for purely utilitarian reasons. They combine the maximum legibility with the minimum waste of space. It is as if men wanted to push the coarseness and the mysteriousness implicit in the old types back into the subconscious, to illumine letters with the clear light of reason and common sense alone. If type is to be common-sense, the first step is obviously to abandon useless and perverted letters, to produce instead legible and practical faces, to return in fact to the search for one normal type, from the search

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to an open grate and the wire framework made it impossible to wrap the victim in the recommended rug to extinguish flames. Bodices throughout the crinoline decade remained tightly fitt- ing and often boned. Boned corsets, high on top and supporting the bust with the aid of gussets, were worn and they also had gussets below the waist.

Tight lacing persisted, but it was less extreme during the crinoline era than before and after it, mainly because the great width of the skirts made the waist look narrower, an effect also enhanced by the very wide sleeves, often lavishly frilled from shoulder to elbow. Chemises and drawers continued to be made as previously, but were somewhat more decorative and at times made of finer longcloth. Petticoats again came into prominence in the 1860s,

for infinite expressive ones. We get the introduction of the normal sans serif, the Ionic and the Old Style. But behind these attempts to revive the Renaissance tradition the books still show a continuous production of blatantly ornamented faces, and, even more incongruous, a new revival and multiplication of Gothic types. Is this, as in the thirties, an indication of divergent and disconnected psychological strains in the time? The period 1848 to 1865 was one of crucial importance in the history of the minor arts in England. The two opposing elements in Victorian life have begun to interact, and their contemporaneous existence can no longer be ignored. In the thirties the social implications of the Industrial Revolution forced itself upon the public conscience, in the fifties its artistic repercussions were borne in upon the thinking public. Mechanization, having

transformed the lives of the poor, was beginning to invade the everyday lives of the middle classes. Apart from the social revolution affected by the development of railways, and the transformation of their physical surroundings by factories, suspension bridges and cast-iron construction, increasing prosperity and purchasing power must have been bringing into middle-class homes innumerable machine-made articles; printed textiles, all sorts of metal work, moldings and fittings, cheap furniture. The manufacturer of this flood of goods was almost certainly attempting in his machine-made object to imitate a hand-made prototype. Yet the result was naturally sham and shoddy. The study of the principles

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when the crinoline was at times drawn up for walking, revealing quite a lot of the petticoat beneath it. There was also a continued vogue for frilly muslin petticoats, for lace-trimmed ones, and also for warm flannel ones, for there were some women who preferred these to the cage crinoline. Another underwear change which started in the 1860s was the introduction of colored petticoats. This as a fashion triggered off by the discovery of aniline dyes. Colored petticoats were to be fashionable in great variety and at moderate prices from that time onwards.

of design in mass production was obviously urgent. The mid-Victorians were faced with what is surely the most exacting aesthetic problem that has been presented to any generation, that of creating a style in which they might say new things through things made in a new way. It is pertinent that the sans serif which is regarded almost as a symbol of our new civilization and architecture, of emancipation from convention and meaningless accretion, a perfect specimen of pure, functional design, as also the preferred letter of the fifties. For the first time a normal form of the letter is produced, meaning that the sans serif is normal in width and quite light in weight. The mundane element in the new sans serif is reflected in the second characteristic type of the decade, the Clarendon or Ionic. The Ionic is an Egyptian with the slab serif bracketed

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and a definite differentiation between the thick and thin strokes. The simple-minded unimaginative strain in the mind of the fifties has a direct expression in the ornamented letters of the period. Very characteristic is the new semi-ornamental type. It is an Egyptian with the horizontal lines about double the width of the verticals; a surprisingly winning and unpretentious type.


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1865–1900 The crinoline had brought some small relaxation of the extremities to which tight lacing had been carried as well as eliminating the bulk and weight of petticoats. It began to diminish in the early 1860s, the first sign of change being a flattening of the front and a backward movement of the wide circle of its framework. By this time the whole structure had lost its prestige and as being massproduced for all at low prices. In an increasingly class-conscious age it was due to be replaced with something which the top people could at least enjoy credit for being the first to introduce. The crinoline disappeared somewhat suddenly in 1865, and

by the late 1860s crinolines were out so far as fashion was concerned. The new line of fashion followed the figure to the extent that accentuated the bust, defined the waist very closely and then showed every curve of the hips. This gave a new importance to the corset which became increasingly shaped, with close cording as well as boning contributing to its rigidity. The stiff front husk became more pronounced as, from the mid 1860s the skirt of the dress drawn tightly over the front of the figure. The backward sweep of the skirt was often achieved by looping it back, once more revealing As a typographical period the decade 1865 to 1875 is the least inspired of any in the nineteenth century. Yet every influence seems to be represented. The new semi-ornamental types have an unmistakable old-world flavor. The new Gothic types are masterly and finished, with an ecclesiastical touch which recalls the forties, except that it is sanctimonious instead of passionate; they go with Oxford borders, not borders made of ornaments. There is a classical element too, the outline faces contrive to suggest a Hellenistic transparency and rationality that is reminiscent of Classicism.

It is a period of important tech-nical innovations. Functionalism had resurrected the idea of the normal letter, and in their search for such a letter the founders seem to have noticed a new method of inventing expressive letters. Hitherto they had virtually limited themselves to three forms, fat face, sans serif, and Egyptian. Now they had learnt to vary the serif in the Ionic, the stress in the French Antique, and the form of the letter in the Old Style. The new semi-ornamental letters of 1865 are exercises in a new freedom. Every attribute of the letter may be altered or combined; categories become mixed and classification complicated.

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the petticoat, or, more exactly, the top petticoat because these garments began multiplying again as the decade neared its close. By the late ‘60s a very becoming flat-fronted, backward sweeping skirt was very fashionable, worn without the crinoline. Trains developed – and were favored by the fashionable. They presented problems out of doors, and the next development was to bunch them up, showing the petticoat again in front. Bunching up was soon not

After about 1875, the last phase of the eighteenth century begins, and it is a phase which rivals the forties in brilliance of invention and in complete and confident self-expression. Out of the gloom of the sixties springs a new art, sprightly, sophisticated, and assured. The style is in fact neither theoretical nor artistic, but popular; the visual counterpart of the op-eras of Gilbert and Sullivan. It is just this style, freely ornamented, yet preserving extraordinary air- iness; which rings true without a touch of hypocrisy, and yet is detached and finished, which is again realized in the typography of the eighties. As in the forties the genius of the time is for ornamental type design, which are full of character.

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enough, and by the beginnings of the 1870s underwear as again being enhanced by various styes of artificial aids, called tournures, or less elegantly, bustles. The bustle was often a kind of steel birdcage, covered with material, and by the early 1870s it extended down to the knees becoming a kind of half-crinoline.

By the mid-1870s the bustle had been superseded by something like a revival of the Empire, figurefollowing bodice, producing a smooth line from bust to hips, but making the mot of all curves. This meant that corsets became longer, tighter, and more generally constricting. In addition there was a considerable increase of interest in artificial aids for the bosom. They abounded from this time. The cuirasse bodice was the name given to the style which evolved in the 1870s and that is just what it was. Tight lacing


was carried to extremes and caused a lot of controversy. In the 1880s, corsets were longer. The elegance of corsets increased and the skill put into their construction encouraged dressmakers to shape skirts more closely than ever to the figure. Petticoats grew more elaborate in the material used and extreme attention was paid to detail. Also, quilted petticoats were invented for warmth. An important innovation at this time was the first suspender. These suspenders were used as a means of keeping stockings

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up, and were eventually attached to a corset in 1901. Underwear in general began to be modernized in order to accommodate these styles, but for most of the nineteenth century its main characteristic, and the oddest to our eyes, was its voluminousness. Drawers were still quite large. They still consisted of two almost separate sections, one for each leg, joined only at the waist. About 1877 a new undergar-

In a way, no doubt, they are the most perverted of all nineteenthcentury ‘monstrosities’. Hitherto the designers have played, as it were, with the type metal. Instead of regarding it as a substance which naturally resoled itself into black lines, they chose to regard it as metal which naturally formed itself into elaborate designs, and so the type designers started playing with the letters themselves. Each letter has its own identity and the charm of the specimen comes to lie in the combination of a row of different personalities, all dressed alike. How did this new idea of designing arise? Surely from experiments in the Gothic letter. Not only does a study of the Gothic letter yield a fine number of variant forms for many letters,

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but it also demonstrates the amazing elasticity of our alphabet. Letters retain their identity despite drastic changes of form and accretions of all sorts. More interesting is the group of faces, neither quite script nor Gothic, but very round like the new blacks, and like all lacks dominated by the lower case design. Early versions still have something of the clerical touch of the seventies. These are succeeded by a group of small light types. This motif of smooth, solid black and complexes of precise, circular curls is used to create art in the actual shapes of the letterforms. In the nineties, the invention and sensibility which has created, and modulated, and kept ceaselessly shifting in shape

ment appeared, the first of a whole series that ere so proliferate from then into the following century and in so doing to transform underwear and help to produce an entirely new concept of it. This novelty was combinations. They combined chemises and drawers into one garment. They reduced the bulk of underwear and therefore helped the trend of outer fashion towards bodices that followed the figure closely don to the bottom of the hips.


The ideal body type of the time, was ‘a well-developed bust, a tapering waist and large hips’ which lasted for thirty years. The bust was provided with artificial aids when nature failed. In addition to false busts were camisole-like garments with elaborate structures of whalebone or a series of wire springs built into the underside of the front. These could be adjusted in order to produce the amount of bust wanted. Stockings of the 1880s were colored again, and were often embroidered. The overall shape of created by underwear during the turn of the century stayed much the same.

This era focused on material instead. This was the first time the idea of lingerie, or underclothes made out of exquisite, expensive materials with fine details, really caught on in the fashion world. Corsetry evolved with the S-shaped figure, which contained many of the same curves as the previous century but accentuated it by thrusting the bust forward and the hips backward.

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and in meaning, the typographical forms of the nineteenth century, peters out.

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1900–1930 Fashion never stays still, and the days of the mature, full-blown beauty in her flowing skirts and frothing, be-frilled and copiously shaped underwear were almost over by 1907, never to return. The great change, and what was nothing less than the start of modern fasion, came when Paul Poiret, a rising young Paris couturier, introduced a slim, upand-down fashion line, banishing the curved S-shape. Instead, he brought into fashion a natural shape. The change was brought about, not just because of Poiret, but also because women were ready for it. The leisured, wealthy woman was ceasing to be the important In the beginning of the twentieth century, drastic changes were occurring. The “horseless carriage” makes an appearance. Electric lights line city streets, and subways are being constructed. Suburbs are starting to pop up. Typographically, a style occurs that will long be recognized as one of the most interesting and picturesque in our printing history. The early 1900s period seems to have been one born of inspiration, destined to pass inspiration to periods to come. A colonial revival occurred, much like that of the 1840s. A romantic and idealistic typography was created, though it was dominated by straight lines,

woman and was therefore ceasing to be the leader of fashion. The buys, active, middle-class woman, occupied at work or in the home, was taking over. The corset was not banished, however. The new corset left the waist unrestricted, the hops and eventually the bust unexaggerated. For the forst time the fashionable woman stood upright and free – or nearly so. Soon after the term brassiere was used, and in 1913, Mary Phelps Jacob invented a kind of brassiere that was soft, short and so design- ed that it gave clear natural separation between the breasts. The petticoat changed completely and became a slim tube of fine silk or cotton with no bulk to create the sought-after slim silhouette. Slim knickers also came

into fashion. In the pre-war years, drawers still used fancy materials, frills, and ribbons. A new relaxation in dress came about 1908 when the high, boned neckline which had been a feature of the Edwardian lady’s day dress began to give way to round necklines, either pain or finished with a narrow frill. The waist line was easy and natural. In 1914, sheath-like dresses were worn with next to nothing underneath. Corsets were developed that were boneless and just fitted the lower half of the torso, much like a garter belt. Dresses started to look like long tunics. When, in 1915, the urgent need for women to play a part in the war effort as realized by the authorities, it might have seemed natural that a revolution would take place in their dress, as in

which is in contrast to the previous 1870s period of curved rules and type lines. As we edge into 1915, more technological advancements are occurring, such as the development of the airplane. In the typographic world, offset lithography is redefining the printing process. There is also a resurgence of Old Style type which enhances the colonial revival.

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their lives. Women began too take jobs in countries fighting the war as men left to fight. The women who went into uniforms wore strictly utilitarian underwear but this had little to do with fashion. One change, however, was of a practical kind. About 1915 the narrow skirts which were still fashionable disappeared. Very full ones replaced them. The logic of this was that wide tunics were by this time often worn over tube skirts. By abolishing the tube and lowering the tunic, an aboveankle skirt, wide enough for service uniforms and for the many strenuous activities now being undertaken by women, was created without wholly discarding accepted fashion. This meant fuller petticoats, a temporary abandonment of a slim line and therefore further freedom in corsetry. Brassieres became more popular during the war partly due to the realization that the support

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of the garment contributes to both health and comfort. The main need for a brassiere was that the softer fashion lines of the immediate pre-war years were maintained in clothing. The fashion of the 1920s have been dramatized into the ‘flapper’ stereotype. For most women, the fashions of the 1920s were wearable, comfortable, becoming and in many respects more like those of the later 1970s than any others since then. Nor did change, when it came, come quickly. Cami-knickers of 1920 continue in the pre-war tradition of fussy prettiness. What mainly dates them, though, is like all underwear of the time, they are so astonishingly big. That, however, was soon to change. Women had emerged from the war with a new outlook. They had been given responsibility and had proved themselves worthy of it. The immediate effect

The so-called “modern” movement in decorative design and typography was influenced by the growing desire for knowledge of all kinds, and with it developed a culture almost unconsciously. As World War I ended, people became obsessed with modern technology. Communication channels are widened with the help of the radio. With this, the discussion of what typography should and should not be becomes worldwide. Modernists talked of disregarding all tradition and laws of design and typography, and doing things in a free and original manner, with the result that some take their words literally, and there are typographic chaos and anarchy. The truth is that modern typography is full of thou-shalts and thou-shaltnots, and the really good piece of modern typography is fairly simple and sane. It is not easy to do – no good typography is easy to do; it only looks easy.


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in Britain was the giving of the parliamentary vote to all women over 30, to be lowered a few years later to 21. In the first flush of emancipation and the ‘equality’ with men, it was natural, if impulsive and rather unconsidered, for women to rush to demonstrate their equality with men by suppressing physical differences. There was a strong move of fashion to flatten the bosom, narrow the hips and

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For the most part, modern design is stripped of its non-essentials. Dynamic symmetry in design and typography occurred, and the geometry side of typography was thoroughly explored. Due to this, it makes perfect sense that the sans serif was the form of choice during this period. It was mechanized, created by using geometry and a grid, as an attempt to create a technological typeface.

bypass the waist. Fashion, which for hundreds of years had lived by exaggerating in turn the main female physical characteristics, now set about eliminating such features. The ideal figure was a straight line. While many corset manufacturers entered the booming brassiere market, some actually made corsets that would hide the natural curves of the body. This fashion only lasted a few years though. In 1925, brassieres that showed more of a natural curve were developed. In 1926 it was stated that ‘the bust was emphasized and the waistline indicated’. Women were becoming women again. The real start of the shaped bust cup appeared and was developed for women of other sizes. The brassiere started to be seen as a control garment rather than a flattener or enhancer. Pajamas had been mentioned occasionally since the 1880s, but it took the First World War and its aftermath for them to become really popular. They varied from more masculine to frillier more feminine versions, and were made in all types of materials.

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Lead & Lace