Gaiety Girls in The Geisha

Gaiety Girls in The Geisha

This picture shows some of the famous Gaiety Girls playing English ladies visiting Japan in the hit musical comedy The Geisha in 1896. The show gave ample opportunity for spectacular dresses, whether Japanese in style or up-to-the minute fashion. The fashion correspondent of The Sketch was bowled over by the first scene, set in the sunlit garden of a Japanese tea-house with charming Geisha girls, a 'scene of fairy-like loveliness… broken into by the advent of some lady visitors, who are clothed in accordance with the very latest and most extreme modes of the moment and the result is a piquantly striking contrast, as you may imagine'. Percy Anderson designed the Japanese costumes with advice from Arthur Diòsy of the Japan society. The non-Japanese characters were dressed by leading fashion houses. By the 1890s many of the best-known London couturiers were dressing stage productions. As the illustrated periodicals fell over themselves to publish photographs of all the actresses in the latest stage hits, the theatre became an excellent way of publicising the latest fashions.