Sunday, January 12, 2020

Dating costume and photographers, Natal (Swires/Gadsden)

In her crisp white day dress, with fashionable tucked detail on her high-necked tunic-style bodice, this colonial lady (my grandmother Maud Alice Swires) epitomizes the end of the first decade of the 20th c. Her hair has been encouraged into a loose, curly style, the bouffant shape probably owing something to coir pads worn under her own hair. The waist of the dress is placed slightly above the normal waistline, and accentuated by a fabric belt. Her sleeves end in a point over her wrist with a hint of feminine frill. All signs of the bustle have disappeared and her skirt is long and tubular, widening at the hem.  

The brooch at her throat spells out her name, Maud. This photograph was probably taken shortly before her marriage in 1909. The photographer’s name is stamped on the reverse of the enlarged print: T. Dickinson (sometimes spelled Dickenson), who owned the Imperial Studio in Pietermaritzburg ca 1900-1910. By the date this photo was taken he was located at 128 Chapel Street, Pietermaritzburg.

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