Ornament Magazine

VOL37.1 2014

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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Opposite page: VINTAGE POSTCARD depicting a young woman wearing a newspaper dress made of The Daily Mirror (England), ca. 1915. Collection of David Simkin of Sussex PhotoHistory. VINTAGE POSTCARD depicting a boy wearing a newspaper suit made of The Nelson Leader (Pendle, East Lancashire, England), ca. 1915. Collection of David Simkin of Sussex PhotoHistory. gown made of silk panels printed with the front pages of several local newspapers and trimmed in gold braid to a ball in 1866. The dress featured a bodice (now lost), sash and full skirt with a crinoline and train, preserved in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. Butters also wore a headdress proclaiming "Liberty of the press," and carried a staff topped with a miniature functioning printing press.5 In 1876 Miss Ida Romain wore a costume to a fancy dress ball in Toronto that she and a seamstress crafted by sewing newspaper to stiff buckram, with a newspaper bouquet to match. A local newspaper described her outfit as "a complete dress and overskirt with panniers made of issues of the city press with the names of the three daily papers published in the city conspicuous on the front of the overskirt," adding that her dance partners "could easily read the news of the day while enjoying the whirlings of the gallopade."6 A photograph in the collection of the Port Arthur Public Library in Texas from 1897 portrays a young woman named Ruby Dee Austin wearing a dress made of layers of vertical panels with the Port Arthur Herald's masthead and a matching bonnet. The newspaper costume phenomenon became popular enough to be codified as its own party theme by the 1910s. Mrs. Herbert B. Linscott in The Social Hour 37 ORNAMENT 37.1.2013 O n March 7, 1929, a modern young woman in northwest Georgia named Martha Lin Manly took a piece of plain sateen to the printing press of the Dalton Citizen newspaper, where she worked as society editor. She had the day's news printed on the fabric, which she then fashioned into a stylish shift to wear to an upcoming masquerade ball hosted by the Dalton Junior Chamber of Commerce. Costumes ranged from a Gay Nineties gown to an aviatrix outfit to Peter Pan to a representation of bubbles. Manly's attractive and timely costume stood out, though, and earned her first prize and the presentation of "a beautiful rhinestone bracelet."1 The fashion for newspaper garments has repeatedly captivated popular interest. The unique sartorial expressions, whether assembled of actual newspapers or of fabric printed with news pages, inevitably raise issues of identity and politics. Many costumes reflect the interests of the wearer or the marketing ambitions of the publisher, expressed through the intentional selection and arrangement of printed text. Though few of these ephemeral creations survive, the ones that do and the ones that are documented in vintage photographs attest to the novelty and graphic power of the combination of newspapers and clothing. Newspaper costumes have been worn by women, men and children for nearly two hundred years. Daily newspapers developed in the eighteenth century and became increasingly common during the nineteenth century.2 The growing prevalence of printed news generated public familiarity with the format and provided ample raw material for newspaper costumes. Such outfits are documented as part of French musichall revues as early as 1831 when Mademoiselle Déjazet appeared as the character "La Politique" in a dress pasted with newspapers, and became staple costumes for such venues by the end of the nineteenth century.3 The novelty of the material appealed to Victorians who cut and folded newspaper into elaborate ruffles and fringes, often with accessories such as hats and fans. Newspaper costumes appeared regularly at fancy dress and masquerade balls, and are depicted in popular prints illustrating collections of favorite costumes.4 Matilda Butters, wife of a prominent politician and businessman in Melbourne, Australia, wore an elaborate

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