This cabinet card portrait presents a fashion mystery. What is the story behind the clothing that these two women are wearing? The previous owner of this photograph called the women “trendy” and stated that they were wearing “Victorian Bohemian” style dresses. I’m wondering if the women are wearing leather dresses. These women are certainly making a fashion statement. The women appear to be wearing slenderizing corsets. One is wearing a choker while the other is wearing a necklace. The woman on the left is holding what appears to be a sheet of paper. It is not clear why she would be posed holding a sheet of paper. The reverse of the cabinet card paper has an inscription which identifies these two women as “Hattie Williams Rhodes” and “Emma Black”. Miss Rhodes is standing on the left of the image while Miss Black stands the right. The photographer of this portrait is R. B. Collins and he operated a photography studio in Dallas, Oregon.


Published in: on November 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. She is holding a mask~~there is a shadow & I did not see it at first!!.
    Dresses are satin , at least on left, no leather, but interesting thought.
    Very nicely embrodiered. The mask suggests a party, a dance?
    Love this card though~~~
    Carol Anne Kuoyoumdjian

  2. I’m seeing a mask, not a sheet of paper, which leads me to suggest these are costumes. The bottom of Ms Black’s hem looks like it has a sheath on it, as for a knife or some other implement.I am not completely sure what is happening here.

  3. Fancy dress was very popular back then, I would guess these were their outfits for a big party. There were whole books of fancy dress costume ideas, so it’s likely anyone seeing them knew who or what they were meant to be. Here is a link to a free one online, it’s really cool!

  4. Great link! Thank you, knotrune.

    My impression is that both women are holding a mask. To the left in light color, to the right in dark color, just opposite to the color of their hair.

  5. In 1890 there were less than 900 people in Dallas, but it did have a newspaper published since 1875. Maybe there is a clue there. The one lady looks like a milkmaid outfit. Both look like they are wearing wigs.

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