September 28, 2016

A short and amazing footage captured the "parade of fashion" New York City's Fifth Avenue in 1897

"The famous parade ground of Metropolitan fashion. Exquisitely gowned women, club men, actresses, millionaires pass by on their afternoon stroll." - from the Edison Catalog.

Director: James H. White

This brief, simple footage has several points that are of some interest, both in terms of content and in terms of technique. The subject matter is fairly simple, showing a couple of shots along New York City's Fifth Avenue where the 'parade of fashion' could be seen, with all the wealthy pedestrians going by. But like many films of a long-ago era, it has a couple of intriguing details, and it also has some significance for its use of a couple of basic techniques that were not yet standard at the time.

One of the points of interest in movies like this from the 1890s is to see the reactions to the movie camera. Here, almost everyone in both sequences ignores (or pretends to ignore) the camera, except for one youth who walks past the camera, staring at it, no fewer than three times. So this and several other interesting aspects make this simple movie worth watching.

The film gives a good overview of how people dressed back then, how they interacted with each other and what other trends were common during that day.


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