A Violet Luncheon: 1891

A VIOLET LUNCHEON

The Latest Fashionable Fad for Giving Floral Dinners

A Pretty Whim That is Proving Popular

Some Suggestions that will Doubtless Be of Use to Entertainers.

New York, Jan. 8. The holidays are well past and all the busy social world has turned its attention to dinners and luncheons, to balls and to germans. As surely as each season succeeds the last, as surely as society exists, so surely will each winter bring its own fashions and its own ways of doing the things which have been and which will be so so long as youth exists and the gay world goes on.

This season’s special fad is the giving of floral dinners and luncheons; not that there is anything either new or fresh in the use of flowers or in the giving of dinners, but in the exclusive use of one flower. Not long ago the correct luncheon was designated by one particular color which was seen in cloth, in flowers, in china, and even in the ices, but that is past and gone. To-day we hear not of yellow luncheons and of pink dinners, but of rose dinners and violet luncheons. Truth is that fashion must have change and often it happens that that change is not for the better, but in this instance the crown must be given to the later fancy, for none can deny that a rose dinner has more of poetry and more of beauty than one of pink can ever attain. So it is that to new ’91 must be given a high place in honor of the good taste and good judgment he has shown.

The floral dinner, or luncheon, as the case may be, is a notably good thing for many reasons—it allows of an exquisite decoration, and it prevents that most ruinous mixture of tints, which is all too often seen.

The requirements for a violet luncheon are not many, nor need they be costly, but they must be dainty and elegant and thoroughly harmonious. The cloth should be of fine, perfectly laundered linen damask, the china creamy white with decoration in gold, and all the color should be concentrate din the centre cloth and in the lovely blossoms themselves.

violet runner for luncheon

A Violet Luncheon table runner

The centre cloth should be oblong, of length and width sufficient to cover well the centre of the table. Its material should be fine Japanese linen lined with violet silk and its decoration violets worked in silks of Asiatic dye. The cloth should have on all four sides a hem-stitched hem and the flowers should be scattered over the centre. They will be not only handsomest, but most durable, if embroidered, but as the work is tedious, some busy women may prefer a quicker method. To them be it said that if each flower be painted flat in wash dye paint and then outlined with embroidery silk, the effect will be good, and, where time is an item, the method is desirable. The design shows a section of the cloth.

The light for the violet table should be that of candles, and the candles should be set in beds of violets. To accomplish this last result some little knowledge is required, but no skill beyond a dainty woman’s reach. A circular shallow pasteboard box should be provided for each cover; in the centre of this should be made fast a candle socket. The entire box should then be filled with freshest violets, with the candle rising form their midst. The shades should be in butterfly form, as the illustration shows.

violet luncheon butterfly shade

A Violet Luncheon butterfly light shade

The making and setting of the candle shades can be accomplished with but a small amount of work if care be exercised to use just the right materials. To support the butterfly a bit of white wire must be secured to the bottom of the box and must be cut a little shorter than the candle. The shade itself must be cut from drawing paper, then painted and lastly lined with mica or isinglass. When the butterfly is complete it must be attached to the wire by which means it will be kept fast, yet allowed to sway a little. The lining of mica removes all anxiety on the score of fire, as it is absolutely non-combustible. The effect of the candles set in beds of flowers and shaded with butterflies is more beautiful than it is easy to realise without seeing them. The lovely modest flower which everyone loves makes the most beautiful candlestick possible, and the butterfly shades are so delicate and so perfectly in harmony as to make it difficult to imagine any others in their place.

violet luncheon menu

A Violet Luncheon menu card

The final bit of decoration is the menu card, which is indeed a rarely lovely one. It is made from celluloid, and has a strip cut in it through which a bunch of violets is passed. On the strip is painted in gold lettering some apt quotations, and below is written or printed the menu. The completed card is a bit of real beauty, besides giving to each lady a bunch of the favored flower and a graceful memento of the occasion. The illustration shows the arrangement of the flowers.

There remains, now that the cloth, the china, the lights and the cards have been considered, only the edible portion of the feast upon which to expend a share of time and thought. It would be worse than poor taste to make suggestion to the lavish Southerner or Missourian as to the viands meant to grace her table. The hospitality and the perfection of cookery for which these ladies are renowned would make such suggestions intrusive, but even to the wise a word may be whispered, and so a few hints are ventured.

For bonbons, let candied violets be served and let them stand in dainty dishes at intervals over the table, that guests may help themselves at will. Let the menu be not too long and let the dishes be delicate as well as toothsome. Let the viands be such as are fit to approach the lovely violets, and let each course in its turn be as perfect in its way as the flowers are in theirs. In other words, avoid hearty roasts and elaborate dishes, for if the luncheon of to-day has one great fault, it is its too close resemblance to a dinner. If the fashion of the day were to be attacked at all, it would be on the score of the hearty luncheons, and if a word of advice dare be offered it would take the form of advocating simple viands and luncheons, which shall at least approach to being what their name implies. G.L. B.

St Louis [MO] Republic 11 January 1891: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It seems as though the Violet Luncheon hostess would spend so much of her time painting or embroidering cloths, cutting butterfly shades, and lettering menu cards that she would have no time to even consider the refreshments, merely snatching whatever came to hand from the pantry shelves.

To be perfectly frank, Mrs Daffodil considers the advice to avoid lavish dishes for luncheon superfluous. In her experience, luncheons for ladies rarely err on the side of abundance: a scrap of lettuce, some artistically arranged cottage-cheese, and a cup of lemon squash masquerading as an adequate repast.  Invariably, after thanking their hostess for a charming entertainment, and having emptied all the dainty dishes of bonbons in desperation, those in attendance would make a rush for the local pub where they might restore their fainting tissues with a “plow-man’s lunch.”  This, no doubt, saves expense for the hostess, but engenders resentment in her friends, and, if bridge is to follow, creates conflict and irritability where harmony ought to prevail.  One cannot expect players to be able to concentrate on their bidding on only a few candied violets.

 

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.

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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