Or How Breeches Became Pants and Cut Sleeveless Dress – Silk “Petticoat”
In the years following the Crimean War there was a visible change in traditional menswear. It introduced by the intellectuals, mainly the teacher community, which mimicked the Greek citizens and European officials working in the Ottoman administration. Originally men dressed in suits of homespun fabric, but in European cut. Often a man could be recognized by clothing – whether he came from Russia, whether a trader had office in Europe or he comes from Beglika and goes to the markets of Istanbul.
During the second half of 10th century “Alafranga” style influenced female fashion as well. Imported female clothing was popular only in the economically advanced cities like Plovdiv, Ruse, Svishtov, etc. Rich wives there could afford the pricy clothes because they had appropriate places to wear them. They would shoe conduri (trendy shoes) and do not go outside without the obligatory accessories – cloak, hat, bag, fan, umbrella and gloves.
Pomades and lipsticks:
A lady could not go out without colored lips. Lipstick became a sign of urban floozy. Moreover, she needed blush for her cheeks, nail polish and dust epilator for removing hairs. To achieve “eternal youth and beauty” the floozy could choose among numerous advertisements for creams and ointments.
The perfume is a symbol of wealth and an expensive gift ever since its invention in the Ancient East. Advertising of bottles with “liquid gold” dominated the Bulgarian press. At the end of the nineteenth century Anton Papazov, producer and trader of rose oil, founded in Plovdiv First Bulgarian Perfume Factory, which still produces soaps, lotions washing head, hair dyes, facial creams and colognes.
Wearing a sahat (watch) on a chain was a part of the “saltanat” (habit) both of the Europeans and Orientals. Though one carried it around the neck, the other – tucked in a special pocket of his coat, the clock is a sign for “a more important” man. It is rare for women to wear a watch , but when you see it hanging around her neck, you could tell that she was no longer in the timelessness of the Orient, and lived in accordance with the new European rules, where even visits are in a particular hour.
The Cane was an accessory used for different purposes – to demonstrate the social position, to defend in the necessary moment, but also to support elderly gentlemen. The fairer sex used the hollow part of the cane to hide perfume, handkerchief, tobacco, ammonia or even a love letter. The appearance of the new citizens will be unfinished if we don’t mention the finest leather gloves; the collars decorating female clothing and a necessary element of the male one; the richly decorated cigarette holders and snuff boxes, demonstrating freedom. Those accessories were equally used by both men and women, because the new European fashion gave rise to emancipation and new confidence in women.
The umbrella was another fashion accessory. Like the cane for the man it was a symbol of woman’s social status and financial stability. With its coquette form and sun screening function, it was a favorite women's property and quickly became a part of the outfit for young and elderly ladies. It was a part of the speechless communication during a walk – with a picturesque swing and rotation or the manner of wear.
Even more ostensible and loved female accessory are hats, showing a complete freedom regarding fantasy and taste preferences of the owners. The principle: “A lot is never too much.” is valid here. Models vary, but are all pompous and ornate, with rich decoration with flowers, feathers, leaves, artificial fruits, “real paradise”. This extravaganza lasted until the 20-s of the XX century. Then plain and simple models came into fashion. There were different hats for hunting, for gymnastic activities or hiking in the mountains and the garsonetka (wheel shaped straw hat), which is often attached with cord to some jacket button, to prevent the wind blowing it off.
After 1878 the balls came into fashion. They were introduced by the families of diplomatic representatives in the capital of East Rumelia and there was a mandatory dress code. Not coincidentally, Konstantin Irechek marks that “the intelligentsia of Plovdiv dressed after the latest fashion, unlike the one of Sophia who wore clothes made of yellow russet and black fur caps.”
Thus were established male only home gatherings, which often had a political character. Michail Madzharov wrote about gatherings at dr. Valkovich’s house: “Those feasts were a novelty for the time, since everything in his house was arranged in a European manner… Even his servants he dressed in tailcoats and white gloves.”
After the Liberation apart from the balls which usually had a charitable nature, a new form of public entertainment quickly spread in the society. It was the dance soiree. Soirees were usually organized in the large halls of Kujumdzhi House in the Old Town, in the Civil Club, the Municipality or the Military Club. Men could visit them freely, but women could attend only with a family member.
The exhibition includes property owned by Regional Ethnographic Museum - Plovdiv
Curator: Grozdelina Georgieva
Photos: Yanko Kavrakov
Virtual Exhibition: Stefana Mincheva