Not long ago I read Consuelo Vanderbilt’s The Glitter and the Gold, which had me thinking about Gilded Age fashions. We’ve looked at the wasp waists more than once, mainly in connection with the tight corseting of the Victorian era. Belts often encircled and called attention to those tiny waists, sometimes with beautifully crafted belt buckles, of which the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a splendid collection.
This gold and garnet buckle is one fine example, dating from about 1899.
The nickel and silver glass paste buckle, with its strange face and the wide open mouth, is something completely different. It’s about ten years later, and looks less Victorian and more Art Nouveau.
Can you picture the sort of woman who’d wear one of these? My guess is that it would not be the same woman!
Buckle # 1, by K.K. Faschschule für Edelsteinschleifer, Edelsteingravure, Goldschmeiede und Juweliere, Bohemian (Turneau), founded 1884.
Buckle #2, by Kirschgaessner und Kraft, German (Pforzheim), founded 1902.
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