In the third and final installment of our Fashion Through the Ages on Carroll Ave series, we take on the era and style that started it all: the Victorian. Collaborating with the talented LA-based photographer, Rollence Patugan, we’ve reimagined this era at the turn of the century, a time of great transition, innovation, social change and still, some strange old gothic ways. We gave these images our own modern flare, of course, taking the seeds of inspiration and melding them into current story-like portrayals.
Architecturally, the style of home, Queen Anne-Eastlake Victorians, are fabled in Echo Park as the long-standing elders and apex of achievement. According the Echo Park Historical Society, “More than 50 Victorian residences and carriage houses dominate the heart of the neighborhood, which has been referred to by some residents as ‘the hill.’ The highest concentration and best collection of Queen Anne-Eastlake Victorians in the city maybe found on Carroll Avenue. More than a dozen of these homes have been designated as Los Angeles cultural historic monuments and the 1300 block is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.” Pretty impressive if you ask us.
Fashion wise, the culmination of a century marked by the industrial revolution and the first steps in women’s liberation gave a new, utilitarian tone to style and garments. The tailoring of women’s clothing mirrored men’s unfussy, simple and travel-oriented style, paving the way for the shirtwaist: “a costume with a bodice or waist tailored like a man’s shirt with a high collar… adopted for informal daywear, and bec[oming] the uniform of working women.” Along with this innovation, women also adopted the tailored jacket, said to improve posture and confidence while foreshadowing early female liberation. We love how fashion can be an instrumental, creative and visual representation and vehicle of social change.
One particular fashion trend we love from this era and illustrated in our photos was the equestrian style. Though these more casual, masculine-themed outfits were saved mainly for experienced female horse riders venturing into British parks and fox hunts, the trend was eventually popularized past its utilitarian usage, influencing fashion in a larger sense. Leather gauntlets and boots were made for women for riding and country outings — a seemingly progressive step for women at the time, but don’t be fooled. This is still the prude, prim and proper Victorian era, after all, and the usage of leather was less an adventurous leap in fashion but more the sentiment that “the stiff boot [was] better than the legging, as it does not show the shape of the leg.” If only those Victorians could see what women are wearing (or rather not wearing!) today.
Victorian fashion, architecture and culture often reflect a certain gothic tone, one of the main reasons we saved this article for Halloween. Patugan beautifully captured the subtle eeriness that seems to come alive during the twilight hours on Carroll Ave., creating timeless, nostalgic portraits echoing this morbidly wondrous mood. We hope you enjoy our spook-tacular lapse in time, and wish you and yours a most happy Halloween!