In class this past week, we discussed the importance of actresses for Oscar Wilde’s aestheticism in general (recall his “Phèdre”, dedicated to Sarah Bernhardt, and other poems), and his work as editor of The Woman’s World in particular.
One famous English stage dress I mentioned in this context was the actress Ellen Terry’s costume as Lady Macbeth from Hamlet, which became iconic for the period:
John Singer Sargent, Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth (1889)
Recently, Ellen Terry’s Lady Macbeth dress was patiently and expensively restored for safe keeping for the ages. See this fascinating blog post, which discusses the restoration process and includes pictures of the real dress, visual art depicting Ellen Terry, and the National Trust property where the dress is now exhibited, Smallhythe House in Kent, England, where Terry lived before her death. See also this Daily Mail news article about the dress’s restoration.
19th-century fashion is alive (not true for the beetles on the dress …).