These four pages of whimsical fancy dress designs were published as a supplement to The Ladies’ Treasury: A Household Magazine in January 1883 by Bemrose and Sons, London. Alongside descriptions of each outfit, the magazine provides information on the illustrator: ‘these have been drawn by Mr. C. Harrison, whose chief object in producing his designs is, that they can be made up at home if desired, without calling the aid of a theatrical dressmaker’. Considering the complexity of the depicted garments, this claim might sound surprising, but all models are based on contemporary patterns the readers would have been familiar with. With the skill level to construct the regular garments seen in the Ladies’ Treasury’s fashion plates, these fancy dress costumes would have been manageable. The descriptions also advertise James White’s shop in 21 Bow Street, who stocked effectful textiles like ‘silver fish scaling’ for ‘Neptune’ and a coin-studded silk for ‘Wealth’. The design for a classic ‘Folly’ costume is reminiscent of a dress from our collection that is presumably based on a similar design from the 1882 edition of Ardern Holt’s Fancy Dresses Described: or what to wear at fancy balls. (See Related Item)
The illustrator Charles Harrison is known for his early 1880s children’s book Pictures and Rhymes published by E.P. Dutton, New York.