The Lizard: Fashion’s Latest Pet: 1915

green lizard brooch

Diamond and demantoid garnet lizard brooch http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/19759/lot/200/

THE LIZARD: FASHION’S LATEST PET

Not live lizards, dear no! Femininity draws the line at making a companion of anything that crawls!

But by what strange perversity of the psychology is woman fascinated by the fearsome? From the day when Mother Eve dallied with the serpent, woman has decorated herself with replicas of things reptilian. Snakes, lizards, scorpions have been idealized in gold and gems. Bats and other horrible flying things have been pressed into service. Mice have had their share. The only creepy, crawly, writhing thing that seems to have escaped woman’s passion for the unspeakable in actual life is the eel—perhaps because the unfortunate eel has an edible value which robs it of the fascination of other wild creatures.

The lizard is fashion’s latest favorite. No one knows just why, but the lizard has crawled into sudden sartorial esteem. Lizards are embroidered on my lady’s lingerie, on her stockings, even on her boudoir pillows, and lizards, gleaming in splendor of metal, gems and gauze, snuggle amid the laces of evening bodices.

Mrs Daffodil must apologise for the quality of the photo-gravure--one can barely see the lizards on the front of the stockings.

Mrs Daffodil must apologise for the quality of the photo-gravure–one can barely see the lizards on the front of the stockings.

Lizards on silk stockings wriggle with fascinating unpleasantness just over the instep, even the darting, forked tongue is not forgotten. Milady wears these striking stockings unconcernedly, while one tiny, live lizard, crawling over the toe of her leather boot would send her into conniptions.

Another favorite wriggling place for the fashionable lizard, is the handkerchief. So long as one is the only woman in one’s particular social circle who disports the lizard on her kerchiefs, the embroidered design is a personal mark of individuality. The handkerchief in the picture is of very fine linen with the narrow, hemstitched edge now fashionable, and the lizard is embroidered in blue and green marking cotton.

lizard hanky

The design of this embroidered lizard is so simple that almost any woman with the least possible artistic skill should be able to copy it for herself. For an ordinary handkerchief the lizard should measure at least two inches long, from head to tip of tail—nearly the entire space of the handkerchief folded into four quarters. Practice drawing the pattern firs ton paper and when you have a fairly good lizard transfer the design, with tracing paper and pencil, to the handkerchief. Outline the edge in ordinary stem stitch, done very closely and evening, and work the dots with French knots, or in over and over satin stitch. The lizard’s eye should be larger than the dots, to give it emphasis. Blue and green, gold and brown, or green and gold will make the best color combinations; naturally, a lizard in sky blue or rose pink will be rather inconsistent.

In jewelry, the reptile seems to be least offensive to fastidious taste. From time immemorial snake and lizard ornaments have been worn by women and one has become somewhat used to the idea. A snake brooch is not half as sensational as embroidered lizards on silk stockings. Striking enough, however, to please the most freakish fancy, is the reptile pin pictured, and this is partly due to the adjustment of the pin against a background of filmy tulle which but partly veils excessively bared shoulders. The ornament has a sufficiently horrible suggestion in itself, though, to raise fascinating shivers and arouse delightful thrills. The snake’s body of flexible, interlocked gold links, writhes quite naturally if it is touched—or when the tulle against which it rests rises and falls with its wearer’s breathing. The wriggling tail is covered with flashing rhinestones and more rhinestones cover the flat, reptilian head which has eyes of emerald glass and imbedded cabochon of imitation topaz on top.

An articulated enamelled lizard bracelet. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/987964

An articulated enamelled lizard bracelet. http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/987964

lizard cuff bracelet

An enamelled and jewelled lizard cuff bracelet. http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/17110/lot/477/

Snake bracelets have become so commonplace that no one shudders at them any more; and of course the first object of a reptile ornament is to make observers shudder in imagined horror of what would happen if the thing were alive. Snake anklets have also had their day of thrills, and the latest form of snake jewelry is the snake-earring. Two tiny, coiled snakes form the ornament that rests against the ear-lobe, snake heads, projecting downward, hold in their horribly opened jaws the dangling ornament that makes the pendant of the earring.

Lexington [KY] Leader 29 August 1915: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil has no innate prejudice against things reptilian, although she prefers them frolicking in pond or aquaria, rather than on her bosom. Lizards are fascinating little creatures. Mrs Daffodil once had a young Master who kept a frilled lizard known as “Elizabeth the First” on account of its ruff. It was an amiable creature, fed crickets and meal-worms, and given the run of the Conservatory until it leapt onto the back of an immensely wealthy, but nervy gentleman as he was down on one knee about to propose to a daughter of the house. He eventually recovered his remaining equilibrium, but never renewed his proposal and eventually went out to the South Pole, where there are no lizards.  He would not have liked the following lady:

Lizard Costume Proves Striking.

“Dressed in lizard from head to toe,” does not sound irresistibly attractive. Yet, the other day, at tea in the garden of the Union Interalliee, one of the women had a good deal of lizard in her costume and was so smart that many eyes were turned her way. The colour scheme of her costume was soft tail, from hat to shoes. The hat was of tan georgette in the popular and flattering “capeline” shape, and the edge of the brim was bound with lizard. A tiny band of lizard encircled the crown. Her gown was a slender model in tan crepe romain, which fitted well over a splendid figure. Collar, cuffs, and a wide buckled belt, were of lizard, as was also a large square bag with one note of colour, a large monogram in red leather applique. The shoes were entirely of lizard with pointed toe and high heel.

Auckland Star, 8 January 1927: p. 26 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Lizard: Fashion’s Latest Pet: 1915

  1. Pingback: The Snake Garter: 1897 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

  2. Pingback: Snake-skins in Fashion: 1882-1912 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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