The Victorian with an X-Factor

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When it comes to style in today’s world, there’s not too much that shocks us to our core that we’d banish anyone from our sight. Just recall how we’ve reacted to celebrities and entertainers and their choice of garments in just the last 20 years. Sure we are sometimes in awe (good and bad) by the choice of style that someone may wear but it’s not too often an outfit sends us into a tailspin.

Unfortunately, this non-nonchalant attitude towards fashion wasn’t the same during the Victorian Era. This was put to the test when John Singer Sargent, an American Artist, decided to capture the beauty of socialite, Virginie Avegno Gautreau, in 1800s Paris, France.

You may have seen this painting before in an art or history class:

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The famous painting received it’s notoriety because of the brazen way the artist painted his subject by showing so much skin (something we’re definitely not shocked by in today’s age). Both the artist and the model did not receive the reception they were hoping. The painting was debuted in 1884 under the title Portrait de Mme *** at the Paris Salon.  Viewers were shocked by the “distastefulness” this portrait portrayed of a beautiful married socialite. Sargent was asked by her mother to withdraw the exhibition but he refused by saying he painted her, “exactly as she was dressed, that nothing could be said of the canvas worse than had been said in print of her appearance.”  He later altered the painting by raising the shoulder strap up to make it seem more securely fastened as opposed to practically falling off her body; which apparently must have sent many people into fainting spells. He also changed the title from Portrait de Mme *** to what it is known as today, Madame X.

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The model and muse, Gautreau, was humiliated by the ordeal and Sargent permanently moved to London. Sargent remained proud of his work as he displayed it in his studio and later sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gautreau did not allow the humiliation to linger too many years as she posed for another artist,  Gustave Courtois, in another setting in a similar dress that revealed a bit more skin. She rounded out her modeling career by posing for Antonio de la Gandara in the late 1800s.

So as you can see, art and fashion have come a long way throughout the 20th century and “Madame X” may have started it all with her Victorian x-factor.

Love & Lockets

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Lockets are one of my favorite pieces of jewelry. There has always just been something about them. For some reason, as a kid, I was fascinated by the fact that you could insert a tiny photo into the little case.

Lockets have been around for a while but have always served a one true purpose: to carry something sentimental for the one wearing it around their neck. Whether it was a photo, a lock of hair, a little love note, perfume or even ashes, it’s been the little keeper of our true love for centuries.  It’s the piece of jewelry that has transcended through time and has never gone out of style.

These little keepsakes fascinate me in that they seem to have a story to tell or hold some little secret that is just hanging around one’s décolletage.

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I love the idea of carrying a tiny photo of your sweetheart. Keeping your loved one close to your heart; always with you.

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I recently found a locket that my dad gave my mom. His name with a simple message and the date are inscribed on the back. The date reads 12-25-67. I’m uncertain if this was a Christmas gift or wedding gift as they were married on December 28, 1967. I truly cherish owning this little love locket.

Do you have a locket with sentimental  value?

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My mom’s locket given to her by my dad.

Vintage holiday gifts

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I hope you all had a very merry holiday. I’m pretty exhausted from all the hustle and bustle this time of year brings. But I only slow down a bit to catch my breath so I can get ready for one of my favorite holidays, New Year’s Eve! But for now I’m going to share a few gifts my husband gave me for Christmas.

You may have figured it out from reading a few other posts that I am an antique lover. A lot of the furniture and decor in my home are antiques. And one of my very favorite things to do is go “antique-ing.” I’m fortunate my husband loves to do the same as well. We could spend hours exploring an antique shop.

Which brings me to the gifts my husband gave me for Christmas. Four out of five of them were antiques and I’m going to share these treasures with you.

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These pieces are a necklace and earrings set. My husband told me he asked the staff at the antique store if they had any art deco jewelry. The staff directed him to the booth where he found these gems. The dealer told him she bought the set in the 1980s from another antique shop. I love how bold the colors are and that the necklace pretty much demands attention. It is the perfect art deco piece to display around my décolletage.

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My husband did a little research on the second necklace and earrings set. This beautiful necklace and earrings set are by a designer name Miriam Haskell. She was an American designer of costume jewelry. I’m not a stranger to costume jewelry because I have a lot of my grandmother’s costume jewelry. The earrings “screw” and they are what I like to call “ear screws” because that’s how these types of earrings were described to me growing up. This is also another great set that sparkles.

The next two gifts are antique handbags. One is from the Victorian era and has a little wear and tear. I just can’t believe it’s survived all these years. The second handbag is 1930s French art deco. Definitely just as gorgeous as it’s older friend from the Victorian era.

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These vintage treasures were a pleasant surprise. I love the fact that my husband gives me antiques for gifts. I hope to give these lovely items the same love their previous owner(s) gave them. 🙂

Do you love antiques as much as me? And has anyone ever given you a vintage gift that you’d like to share?

These items were purchased from Gas Lamp Antiques in Nashville, Tenn.