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Ornaments and Their Place - Jewellery and Its Uses - The Attraction of the Fan
OrnameNts should be to a dress precisely what the finishing touches are to a picture. They should never "shout" at the observer, because they should never interfere with the general harmony. Sometimes there is a use for a single and bizarre ornament, and in this case it answers the same purpose as a high-light in a picture where the artist is intent upon accentuating a darkness.
The whole intent of art in dress as an aid to beauty is to gain harmony. Once strike a discord, and the picture is marred.
Ornaments have their distinct place and use, and it is when these are lost sight of that beauty is marred instead of helped.
A fringe, for instance, should not be merely "a finish" to a line on the dress. In fact, its real use is not to "finish " or outline, but to blur, and the artist in dress pays attention to the heading of the fringe. Where the line at the edge of the tunic, for instance, is unbecoming to the figure, the fringe has only a slight and self-coloured heading, and the fringe itself is wide. Put a fringe of a contrasting shade and with a decisive heading, and the effect is that of a band accentuating the line.
Feathers also blur lines; braids and similar trimmings emphasise them. When placed cleverly, as on the military coat, braidings give full importance to the upper part of the figure in a man, and on a woman give a challenging contrast to becoming curves. Where the figure is flat, the application of military braid to a woman's coat is merely unbecoming.
Lace has a use somewhat similar to the legitimate use of fringe; it should blur lines. Hence the reason why a young woman can be coquettish in lace used sparingly so as only to blur in seeming. An old woman, by placing lace judiciously as a frame to her age-lined face, and on her dress to disguise certain lines which make her figure either too thin or too stout, can make of herself an attractive and harmonious picture.
Jewellery, fans, and parasols are in the nature of accessories to dress, since they are seldom necessary to complete a picture, though their use may give it an added value. Here can only be noticed the rules of good taste as to form. Those governing the choice of colour belong to a further article.
Jewellery should be worn with regard to its design harmonising with the figure and dress it adorns, and it is for this reason that representations of the human figure in jewellery are to be avoided.
A figure, or part of a figure, is a picture in itself, and its use as ornament on another person is incongruous. Who has not seen a cameo adorning with ridiculous effect the full bust of a woman, and this effect probably heightened by the fact that the face of the slender figure is depicted as perfect in line, and the live face above it therefore looks larger, rounder, and redder than it really is? has no use for representations of other beauty, and no wish to confuse her own personality by such adornments.
The second use of jewellery is symbolic, so that the jewel ideally worn is artistic to the eye, stimulative to the imagination, and expressive of a characteristic which would be owned by the wearer.
Apart from these considerations stand the useful types of jewellery, such as buckles and brooches. When essentially for use, such articles are in best taste when simply made, and their ornamentation should never attract the attention from their primary use.
By the same rule mementos, either photos, miniatures, or hair, should never be worn, no matter how beautiful or artistic they are in themselves. Their place is amongst private personalities, their appearance nothing to do with the arts of beauty and personal adornment - arts affecting the general public welfare, since a well-dressed woman is something of a philanthropist. Of the fan much has been written.
Mme. de Stael wrote: "What graces does not a fan place at a woman's disposal if she only knows how to use it properly! It waves, it flutters, it closes, it expands, it is raised or lowered according to circumstances. Oh, I will wager that in all the paraphernalia of the loveliest and best-dressed woman in the world there is no ornament with which she can produce so great an effect!"
The idea of a Spanish woman's beauty and depth lies partly in the way she uses her fan. In its slow, rhythmical movement there are dignity, grace, reticence, and the suggestion of unexpressed romance and poetry.
On the other hand, the dainty Japanese flutters her fan. She is coy, coquettish, charming, bird-like.
With a maid from Japan you must think of breakable china and surface beauty, attractive by contrast with the mysterious senora of more heroic type. A fan can express both these extremes of beauty.
Exercises That Bring Grace & Beauty