Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The Crinoline Lady, Nostalgia & Romance

In the proccess of sorting out my boxes, I came across a few quaint little 'Crinoline Lady' items from the 1930s, a box of 'faux lace' paper serviettes, a Masonic menu for Ladies Festival and a hand embroidered picture. It made me think about the wealth of Crinoline Lady images and items from that period, was it simply a nostalgic motif, a romantic, escapist image of women during tough times, the depression, the II World War, etc? It is easy to see it as so, a very feminine, flowery reminder of an imaginary time when things were 'perfect', lovely English Country Gardens overflowing with floral bounty, wonderful mock-Victorian finery to swan about in, and gorgeous thatched cottages with roses around the door.
This was a period of rationing, not just of food, but of all commodities, the make do and mend era was not a choice to be made, but a necessity to be practised continually. People lived with the potential for disaster only a heartbeat away - the bombing raids that destroyed so many homes and lives - and the war itself that robbed so many families of their Father's, sons and husbands. Perhaps nostalgic images and motifs like the Crinoline Lady helped to empower people, to boost their morale a little, especially women, as they worked their embroideries, and enjoyed using items with the motif on them, such as china, firescreens, linens etc, a reminder that things would eventually get better... Maybe.
Funnily enough, the image still has an enduring, if somewhat kitsch charm, a rose has been named after her, a Flower bed sculpted to resemble her, even an arty, atmospheric photo of a tree has been named after her. An enduring motif. Long live the Crinoline Lady!


  1. Lovely images, i have a favourite cushion with a Crinoline lady design.. love it!
    Lizzie x

  2. I always wondered what the story was with the Crinoline lady. I have some of these as well. I love the photos you shared. The garden one is such fun.

    Your explanation reminded me how we take everything for granted these days and how we tend to be wasteful. In the days of mending there seemed to be a special regard for everything. Now we tend to live in a throw-away culture and I think this is quite sad. I have a drawer full of socks that need the toe mended, and I refuse to throw them out. Now to find the time to do this!

  3. Lizzie, I am glad you enjoyed the post! I shall picture you stylishly lounging upon your Crinoline lady cushion! xx

  4. The garden is somewhere in the USA! I am glad you related to my thoughts on the meaning of her during the war. Women's work and taste have so often been belittled, as they are quite often homely or humble, but without cheerful and feminine domesticity and assertiveness, there would be anarchy!!! Anyone with sons or husbands left to fend for themselves without women for a week or two knows the domestic carnage that they can expect to return to! Haha, bless them... xx