Friday, January 21, 2011

Ruffs and Neck Wear C.1900

As I have been researching and looking for ideas to inspire my textile jewellery design, I came across a copy of a John Barker & Co. Catalogue from the early 1900's. Ruffs are most often associated with the 1600's, but in a different form, neck ruffs were also worn in the early 1900's.

If you are interested here is a little background info on the company that produced the catalogue. John Barker (1840-1914) opened a small linen drapery shop at 91-93 Kensington High Street, Kensington, London, in 1870. The business expanded rapidly and by 1880 John Barker was trading in fifteen shops. In 1888, a partnership, John Barker & Co., was formally established. By 1892, John Barker & Co. was one of the largest stores in London, with over forty departments ranging from furnishing and plumbing to fashion and food, and employing over 1,000 staff. In 1894, John Barker & Co. became a public limited company, John Barker & Co. Ltd. At that time the company then owned thirty-three shops and by 1895 it owned every property on Kensington High Street between King Street and Young Street.

There are two pages of neckwear in the catalogue.

Here we can see the look of this period, and how the neckwear was worn.

Lace was everywhere.

What a strange creature she was, the fashionable woman of the early 1900's, with the waist of a wasp, the extended neck of an African tribeswoman, and a pigeon breast. In this last gracious era of the Beau Epoch, the ruff, that symbol of status reappeared once again for a short time.

Below are some of the novelties in sashes and neckwear, Lace Collars and Jabots, with their descriptions. I so want to make some of these.

Cambric Jabot, edged with fine lace.

Collar band of White Cambric and Silk Stitching.

Tambour lace neckband, frill top and bottom.

French jabot, in fine white net, edged with black velvet.

White Guipure Neckband in newest raised lace.

Valenciennes Lace Yoke, trimmed Cambric Beading.

Cambric Collar Band, with Fine Lace Medallions.

Fine Imitation Irish Insertion and Cambric Collar Band.

26. The New Ruche, deep pleated Net Frill and Black Satin Bow.
28. Collar Band of fine Cambric and Coloured Feather Stitching.

Latest French Novelty in Silk and Muslin Jabot. The Collar Band and Bow composed of soft silk ribbon and finished with an inner Frill of Tulle. Available in all the fashionable shades.

Fashionable Folded Satin Collar Band, finished with Net Frilling and Bow at the back. In all the best shades.

14. Dainty Silk and Lace Jabot, can be had in all the newest Colorings.
15. Dainty Neck Ruffle, in soft Satin with inner Ruche of Tulle, and finished at back with smart Bow. Can be made in any colour.


  1. Fabulous! This is the kind of stuff we don't normally get to see when we look at fashion plates, I find. I love the detail images of the ruffs and neckwear.

    I've bookmarked your blog to add to my blogroll :-) Thank you for visiting mine and leaving me a link!

  2. Wow. You're right about the strange creature comment... She looks weird o.O

    Some of those neck pieces look like mini dresses for your neck haha what odd little things I've never seen anything like this before.

    I love the last image with a woman in it. That neck piece is pretty sheik.

  3. No problem Lauren, thank you for taking the time to visit. Love your blog.
    Francis, I know, isn't it amazing. She has the posture of Superman don't you think. You have to remember, this was the age of the Suffragette, when women were fighting for the vote, chaining themselves to walls, and demonstrating on the streets. It really shows in the pose, don't you think? The then way that the look has been feminised, with the use of acres of soft lace, draped over the top halves of their bodies.

  4. Yes yes I see what you mean! I'd be scared if I saw a woman like that! But there's something a little... disturbing about it... Almost like the fashion was an overreaction to unfair circumstances... And the battle for rights has left her twisted...

    Look at the 3rd and 6th images... There's something very inspiring about them... She would make a good villain

  5. I love it, so true. 6 does look like a villain doesn't she.