Prudence Research ~ India’s Influence on Victorian Clothing in the Custard Protocol series (Special Extras)

So I took Rue to India in the first Custard Protocol book, Prudence. (Which the Read Along is tackling right now.) It was a lot of fun for the both of us. And, since it’s me, I also kept an eye open to the fashion world. India was an occupied territory during the Victorian times, and fabrics and fashion moved from there across the world and into the lives of Victorians in a myriad of ways. Here are some of the influential images, fashion items, and styles that come up in my books when India is involved.

1885 Visite  Les Arts Décoratifs

Not all of the images I collected are strictly Indian. Some are from surrounding occupied territories or highlight other Silk Road influences. Nevertheless, they struck me as quite interesting, so I have presented them for you here.

Fancy Dress Costume  Charles Fredrick Worth, 1870  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I dithered on how to show these. I went with some original historical clothing items, along with some Victorian and later takes on the same theme and, where possible, a modern fashion look. Also there’s jewelry! So it’s kinda a mess, but I still hope you enjoy it.

Pendant  1860  Bonham’s

17th-18th century  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
1867  Les Arts Décoratifs
Pietro Yantorny, 1920  The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Evening Dress  late 1910s  The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
19th Radhakrishna pendant  India, 19th century  Christie’s


1855 via fashionsfromhistory-tumblr Dressing Gown MFA
Court Ensemble  India (Lucknow), 19th century  The Victoria & Albert Museum
1820 Turban The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Evening Dress 1893  The Museum of London

“This evening dress is decorated with net panels embroidered with gold thread and beetle wing cases from a species of jewel beetle. The panels were probably made in India where Madras and Calcutta were centres for beetle-wing embroidery made for the European market. The iridescent blue-green beetle wing cases reflect the light like sequins. This type of embroidery is found in British museum collections on dress, textiles and accessories dating from the 1780s until about 1930. Although Indian embroiderers introduced the technique, using it to decorate dress and domestic textiles, Europeans copied them, sometimes using the wing cases of a species of South American jewel beetle. This style of embroidery was also thought to be a suitable pastime for ladies of leisure, who were advised to use a Walker’s number eight needle and green silk thread.”

 Dress  Weeks, 1910  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Shirt  India (Bikaner), 1850s  The Victoria & Albert Museum
Opal Bracelet  1900  Christie’s
Fancy Dress Costumes  Paul Poiret, 1913-1914  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Necklace  India, 19th century  Sotheby’s


Jama  India, 17th century  The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Court Robe  India, 18th century  The Victoria & Albert Museum


Necklace  India (Rajasthan), 19th century  Christie’s


Choga  India, late 19th century  The Metropolitan Museum of Art

More like this?

A variation of this post originally appeared in Retro Rack.

Yours (ever obsessed with sari fabric and Indian textiles),

Miss Gail

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3 Responses

  1. The WOL said:

    I live on a fixed income, and was unable to get the money together to purchase the fanservice Omnibus edition before it was sold out. Would it be possible/feasible to do a second printing? I’d be willing to support a kickstarter or go fund me campaign, or something like that. Could you maybe launch a trial balloon to test demand where if you get X number of subscribers, you could do a second printing? PLeeeeeze?

  2. Adrienne Figenbaum said:

    Well I’m wholly flattered that you, the author herself, quoted me on her website! Thank you!! I loved your book and I’m glad you enjoyed my review 🙂

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