Tis the season! There are many technicolor, wonderous pictures, that appear in my mind, when I ponder anything, related to Christmas. I can clearly see children looking in decorated store windows, or seated at the kitchen table, surrounded by catalogs, working diligently on their Christmas list. I imagine exquisitely dressed, fine ladies as they stride gracefully along snowy sidewalks, wearing lovely fur lined coats, matching boots, gloves and carrying the latest designer handbags. Corsages, small and glittering accents, purposefully placed on their delicate wrists, waists or fancy lapels. Each, artistically painted with glitter on the focal edges of poinsettias, ivy leaves, and holly berries. Classy, understated, yet unmistakably their signal, to the watchful eyes of the fashion world, that the Christmas Season had officially begun.
Christmas corsages became fashionable in the 1940’s. The term corsage means “bodice of a dress”. According to a corsage making manual from the 1920’s, “a corsage does not just indicate an occasion, it also gives an air of importance”. For the well-to-do, a true corsage was always made from real flowers, like roses, violets, orchids and other organic decorations like ferns and feathers. Even in the 20’s, flowers could be expensive, with the average corsage costing around $4.00 or more, which was enough to feed a family, an elaborate, holiday meal.
Not to be out done, the more frugal minded, creative women created their own, or purchased a less expensive versions, of holiday corsages. These often-contained items made of plastic leaves, paper flowers, bells, snowmen, Santa faces, reindeer, angels, bits of ribbon and cord. and anything else, that was a reminder of the season. Crepe paper was often used, to add texture, and glitter, for added flair. For the more daring and avant-garde ladies, the displays were often larger and flashier than their couture counterparts. The demurer and/or religious ladies might wear corsages displaying crosses, miniature manger scenes, the baby Jesus, the Christmas Star, or tiny silver and gold musical instruments, reminding them of their favorite Christmas Carol, or hymn.
By the 1970’s, Holiday corsages, fell out of vogue, and were just another reminder, of Christmas past. Then came the “Vintage Revival”! Everything old was new again! Vintage corsages, once thought of as tacky, are now gloriously celebrated, worn with pride, and very collectible.
Christmas Corsages… They allow us to celebrate the season, display a pop of whimsy, provide avenues to re-purpose and give new life, to wonderfully made kitschy, yet somehow romantic relics, while envisioning and cherishing the great ladies of our past!