Monday, February 11, 2013

Mrs. Bradley Martin's Costume

Mrs. Bradley Martin as Mary Queen of Scots

Mrs. Bradley Martin's costume was a surprise to many of her guests, when, upon going to the dais in the small ballroom to greet her, they saw their hostess as Mary Queen of Scots, in a gown copied from an old painting.

The over dress and pointed bodice were of black velvet lined with cerise satin. The over dress was full at the hips and opened over a petticoat of white silk embroidered in silver. A jeweled stomacher and a pointed cap ofi velvet with jeweled edge finished her costume. Mrs. Martin wore many of her splendid jewels.

Plans Were Laid Months Ago—A Busy
Time for the Decorators
and Many Others.

The preparations for the ball were begun months ago, and as the time for the event drew near, these preparations were redoubled. All day Tuesday and all yesterday the doors to the big ballroom were closed to visitors, and laborers and decorators shut themselves in and devoted themselves uninterruptedly to their task.

Flowers were carried into the hall by the wagon load, and immediately disappeared in the maze of festoons along the wails. The hothouse and gardens of the city could
not meet the demand, and carloads of rare blossoms were brought from, the semi-tropical South. This work of decoration was considered of such importance that it was
not given over until the curtain was about to lift. In the last hour, orchids, roses, violets, lilies, rhododendrons, and dozens of other flowers were set in places already prepared for them. At the last hour, also, a final polish was given to the floor, already waxed and made as slippery as ice.

Still greater preparations had been made among the guests.  Histories of Courts, especially French Courts, were studiously searched for suggestions as to effective costumes. After the selection of appropriate costumes, there came the work of costumers, wigmakers, hair dressers, designers of costumes, tailors, and seamstresses. Costumes selected  had   frequently   to be altered, and sometimes discarded, when it was discovered that there were too many Mary Stuarts, or Marie Antoinettes, Louis  Onatorzes, or Francis I's.

The treasures left by careful grandmothers were ransacked for old laces and furbelows; the jewelry boxes of thrifty ancestors were opened, and necklaces, diamonds, and other gems that had perhaps been present at Versailles receptions, were brought out of their hiding places, and collections of old armor were eagerly sought for swords, rapiers, and stilettos of ancient courtiers.

When all the work of preparing the ballroom was completed, save the finishing touches, the police formed a cordon to guard the place from intrusion and disorder, and an Inspector, Captains, Sergeants, and two hundred men stood like the old Swiss guard before the portals of Versailles.


Gallery Kept Open AIL Night to Make
the Photographs

As early as 8 o'clock last evening costumed men and women were seen passing in and out of Gilbert's Studio, at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fifth Street, and the stream of callers kept up for the greater part of the night.

The idea suggested Itself to Mr. Gilbert that it would be advisable to keep open all night and give the guests of Mrs. Bradley Martin an opportunity to have their photographs taken while their costumes were still fresh and without taking the extra trouble to dress again.

Acting upon that idea he made extensive preparations and by means of a new arc light was enabled to take any picture required. In order to give the different styles of costumes proper background, furniture, and scenery, corresponding to the periods of the Renaissance, Louis XIII., XIV., XV., and the Colonial times were procured and utilized in accordance with the costumes photographed.

Among those that had their pictures taken were E. A. Winthrop, in the costume of an early Governor of Connecticut; Julien Stevens Ulman, in a suit fashioned from a painting of Lord Chesterfield; Mrs. H. L. Burnett, dressed a la Marie Antoinette, with a flounce of did lace which was at one time in the possession of a Cardinal of the seventeenth century; a pyramid-shaped bouquet carried in the hand was copied from the annals in the Astor Library pertaining to that period. Mr. and Mrs. E. A. Le Roy, Louis XVI. costume. J. Lispenard Stewart, as a Cavalier of the time of Louis XIII. F. S. Wetherbee, in court costume, Louis XVI. Henry White, Cavalier of Louis XIII. day. Mrs. Henry Trevor appeared as Princes Lamballe, copied from a miniature in her possession. Mr. and Mrs. Karrick Riggs, as an officer of the guard of Louis XV. and a Marquise of Louis XV. Court, respectively. Mrs. Rhinelander Stewart, in court costume of Louis XVI. J. E. Hoffman, as a Cavalier of Louis XIII.

At the house of J. Pierpont Morgan, 219 Madison Avenue, last night, Miss Slorida Green took the photographs of the members of the family who attended the ball, including the Misses Morgan. They were all in their ball costumes.


—It was a subject of comment that Mrs. John Jacob Astor did not attend the ball.

—It was a young man, dressed as an Indian chieftain who was looking for a tribe that did not materialize. He discovered later in the evening that the plan of his friends for going in the costumes of Indians, with himself as a sachem, was a practical joke.

Click HERE to read the full story from The New York Times first published February 11, 1897, the day after the great ball.

Click on the Bradley Martin Ball "Label" to read all the articles relating to this famous ball.

1 comment:

  1. Of course Mrs. Astor attended. She led the first quadrille.