Saturday, September 21, 1889

Saturday the 21st.

Today we went to Doncet’s to see the fine dresses. We got in through the introduction of Miss. Scoofy, sister of the “Greek”, and we had a feast of Parisian style. Doncet is equal to Worth and they both are acknowledged to be the best dressmakers in the world. Miss. Scoofy introduced us to Madame Henriette, intimating that we should want something to take home from Paris, and so we were ushered up two short winding flights of white and gold stairs into a parlor in which several young ladies put on any number of costumes, viz. walking dresses, dinner dresses, carriage dresses, reception and ball dresses and promenaded in front of us, and other ladies present for inspection. They also donned various wraps, cloaks, capes etc. We could thus “see ourselves as others see us” should we purchase (by the way we did not). Madame however was very polite and desired to serve us at any time. Most of the lady attendants were French, but this one was English. The rooms are handsomely furnished, and we felt repaid for our visit.

[Doncet was indeed as major a women’s clothier as Addie stated. An 1894 Los Angeles Herald fashion column (at the link) reports on trends at the time and includes Doncet in their round-up. Below is from the New York Herald, Sunday, 27 February 1898, section 2, page 7; see the ad for “Mme. Amelie” about halfway down the clipping:

classified ads

These ads are from the “Dressmakers & Seamstresses” section of the “Situations Wanted–Female” classified ads in the New York Herald, Sunday, 27 February 1898. (Scan courtesy of Old Fulton Post Cards.)

The ad about halfway down the above clipping shows a woman called Mme. Amelie who worked for Worth and Doncet in Paris (the shops Addie called “the best dressmakers in the world” in this entry), amongst other shops. She was the only person in the entire section (not just the pictured section) to advertise by her name, so it seems she was already fairly well-known in New York City. Mme. Amelie was also capitalizing on the 1890’s American women’s craze for bicycles by advertising her ability to make “bicycle suits.” A number of other women in the section (including some pictured above) advertised that they were French and/or had French prior experience. Also note that the “young lady” advertising at the end of this clipping (which is also the end of the advertising section) has already had five years’ experience and is seeking an assistant position, illustrating how much experience “top class dressmakers” had to reach being that experienced.]

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