Monday, 19 December 2011

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

I'm sorry for the long absence from my blog. The last month or so has been really hectic as I've been working away from home on various projects.

I am really pleased  that the National Trust has posted a database of their collections online. I am sure this will become another valuable resource for costume reference and inspiration.

The images below are from the database online. These items interested me as the pelisse and bonnet are also illustrated in 'Costume in Detail 1730-1930' by Nancy Bradfield at the back of the book.

Wedding Pelisse 1814 - National Trust Collection

Wedding Bonnet 1814 - National Trust Collection.

I was intrigued that a dress reputed to have belonged to the Empress Josephine was sold in Paris for
120 000€!

Courtesy of Osenat Auctioneers, France
 Whilst the dress looks impressive there were certain details that do not seem right. In particular the embroidery technique and the seam in the centre front. The bodice is certainly 20th century and the border of decoration on the hem has been added at a later date. Looking at the style of embroidery in particular, the beaded motifs are unusual as decoration for a 'court dress' in this period. The regulation of court dress during the Premiere Empire was very strict and the embroidery was usually made in gold or silver with pearls, spangles and sometimes precious stones.  I wish to have had the opportunity to examine it in person.

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all my friends and followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year! Thank you for all your comments and support. I have  been very inspired by the work of fellow bloggers throughout the year. I was also so pleased to meet many of you in person during my visit to Williamsburg in March.

See you in 2012!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Guest Lecture at Wimbledon College of Art

Last week I really enjoyed meeting the 2nd Year Costume Interpretation students at Wimbledon College of Art. I lectured on Empire and Regency Clothing as part of a project. I also bought a few original  items from my collection and some examples of the clothing I had re-created.

The students have a fantastic project where they are re-creating a fashion plate or a portrait dated between c.1811-1825. I was very inspired by their ideas and I'm looking forward to returning and seeing the results of their hard work.

Here are some links to a couple of blogs with photos from the lecture and details of the objects I bought to show them.

I would also like to mention the Metropolitan Museum 'search the collections' database again. It is an invaluable resource for referencing and inspiration!

Friday, 7 October 2011

The Military Carriage Dress

I would really like to thank everyone for their kind comments!

Here are some details of my carriage dress. The fabric was bought from Busby Fabrics and is a silk taffeta in red, shot with purple.

The outfit is made in two pieces consisting of a skirt held up with braces and a jacket which can be worn on its own as a spencer.

Here is my inspiration.

I wanted to make an outfit which was military but not copying a uniform exactly. As in the period, the 'military' decoration is an interpretation. Details such as braiding are feminised.

Here is how I made the braiding. It is the exact same fabric as the outfit. I sewed a length of the silk cut on the bias, folded in half to form a tube.  I used a rouleau turner to turn the taffeta to the right side then threaded through narrow piping cord. I made up the decoration into the design then stitched it to the garment.

Here are some details of the finished garment. At the back you can see a peplum. This seems to be a common feature on carriage dress. The sleeves are cut in one piece with the fabric extended at the top to allow for gathering.

The collar has strips of boning in the centre back and sides to support the height. There is also an interlining of linen to give it extra support and  I  ran a piece of wire all around the edge to keep the shape.

Some carriage outfits have a bodice in a different fabric attached to the skirt rather than braces.

One really important feature is the cord added to the hem of the spencer, which can be pulled up. It really helps to stop the jacket/spencer from riding up.

Finally this is a great addition to my wardrobe as it can be two outfits in one!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

More of Sarzana

Here are some more images courtesy of Linda Duncan. I cut and made this dress for Marie Louise in gold silk tulle with a silk taffeta underdress. The design was based on a dress in Costume Parisien. The decoration was made by Cristina Barreto.

Above is another image of my carriage dress made in red shot with purple silk taffeta. The carriage dress consists of two parts. The skirt and spencer section are separate. The design is based on an original in the 'Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion' collection which will be exhibited next year.

Napoleon and Sarzana

I am sorry for the long gap between my last post. The last months have been incredibly busy between working on films and preparing for a huge Napoleonic event in Sarzana. I made a new outfit for 'Marie Louise' plus a carriage dress for myself. More photos will follow but here is a taste............

Thank you to Roberto Fusconi for his wonderful photos.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Inspirational Art- Painter Vladimir Borovikovsky

As a maker of historical clothing and researcher I'm always looking at portraiture for inspiration and clues about dress construction. I came across this Russian artist and loved the detail in his paintings. I feel some new dresses in the pipeline!

You can read more about the artist here.

I hope she did not get paint on her beautiful shawl!

Detail of redingote, probably made in percale which was fashionable in this period. You can see similar examples in Costume Parisien

I love this sleeve detail. The dress is probably made of embroidered silk tulle or lace.
You can see here exactly how the sleeve is made on a band with two rows of piping at the top and edge. Also you can see clearly the use of a drawstring cord used on the edge of the bodice neckline to control the fullness and fitting.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Pelisse in the Museum of London and Fashion in Focus 1600-2009

Here is photo of the piped pelisse from the Museum of London website. You cannot use a flash in the museum its-self so I was pleased to find detailed photos on their database.

I saw a similar example of elaborate piping in a new book 'Fashion in Focus 1600-2009' by Grace Evans. It's a really interesting collection held in the Chertsey Museum.

Monday, 1 August 2011

More Museums!

Over the past few weekends I visited the Fashion Museum in Bath and the Museum of London. Both have very diverse and interesting collections.

I fell in love with this piped pelisse in the Museum of London!

Below are some photos from the Fashion Museum in Bath. I appreciate the difficulties of displaying historic fashion but I was quite surprised to see two silk dresses which were displayed full of creases. Surely this would be quite damaging to the garment?? 
In the wedding dress exhibition, the decorative flower headdresses and bouquets are bright white, whereas most of the dresses on display are ivory. The costume collection in Bath is really fantastic but sadly, on some occasions, it is let down by the presentation of the garments.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Classical Influence.

I've been working on a couple of films recently around London so on my day off I decided to take a quick look at the British Museum.

Everyone knows the influence of classicism on early French 'Empire' and to some extent late Georgian fashion in England. However, I was absolutely fascinated and inspired to come face to face with  actual pieces of Greek and Roman sculpture and jewellery which inspired the fashion, hairstyles and jewellery in this period.

Typical Classical Inspired dress and jewellery of the 'Empire' period

Roman diadem - British Museum

Late 18th Century Cut Steel diadem

Roman Bust with interesting hairstyle

Costume Parisien 1811

Roman Necklace with amethyst and emerald stones- British Museum

Detail of Roman Diadem - British Museum

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dressing the Stars - detailed photos

Here are some of my photos of the exhibition. 
Sleeve detail, coronation robe from ' Elizabeth'

Bustle dress from 'Tess'

Detail of wedding dress from 'The Duchess'

Costume from 'Restoration'

Monday, 11 July 2011

A busy weekend in Bath.

The past few weeks have been incredibly busy. I was pleased to be able to have a nice weekend in Bath and to attend the 'Grand Regency Ball'. On Friday I was asked by my friend Yvonne Hobbs to help in the final stages of dressing the costumes in her exhibition 'Dressing the Stars' at the Assembly Rooms in Bath. The costumes which are on display are from films such as The Kings Speech, Gladiator, Troy, The Duchess,  Pirates of the Caribbean and many more. It was wonderful to be able to get so close to these famous costumes and to see the level of detail. I was very inspired. The exhibition runs from the 12th July until the 29th August 2011.
Detail of Marianne's wedding dress from 'Sense and Sensibility'

Marianne's wedding headdress from 'Sense and Sensibility'

Sewing jewelry into place on costumes from 'The Duchess'

The 'Grand Regency Ball' was fun on Saturday although I do despair that people continue to use synthetic fabrics to make dresses of this period....... Some friends and I also decided to promenade around Bath on Saturday daytime.

Finally, one of my customers sent me a photo of the coat and breeches I had made for him.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Mounting Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion.

A little while ago I promised to write about the mounting of the clothing for Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion. Those of you who are eager to see the exhibition in person will be pleased to know that it will be on display next year in Europe with some new garments added to the collection. I cannot give definite details yet but please watch this space.

When I started to work on the collection with Cristina and Martin the main consideration regarding the display of the clothing was that the outfits should appear as they would have been worn in their time. It was also essential to consider the preservation of the clothing whilst on display as although all the collection had been professionally conserved, the clothing was still fragile and needed to be handled carefully. With these thoughts we started to plan how best to show the dresses with correct support underneath but also to give a subtle appearance of underclothes without detracting from the garment itself.

The mannequins were sculpted to look like the body was already wearing the dress. This meant that the bust was shaped to be pushed up and the shoulders pulled back. Although we did not use any body padding, we did use flesh and white coloured tulle to support some of the sleeve puffs on the arms. Ester Paronetto and I also made a lot of tulle gathered petticoats to give the dress skirts some lift.

Annette with a medium weight cotton support chemise and tulle  petticoat underneath.
We wanted the dresses to become ‘alive', to appear realistic, and have a sense of movement. Clothing is a three dimensional object and so many times I personally have been disappointed to see interesting garments displayed in a two dimensional boring way.

  We decided that every dress needed a 'chemise' support. This was a sleeveless under dress cut on the same pattern as the actual garment but simplified. The seam lines of the bodice were not exactly replicated except for the level of the high waistline and neck edge. Ester and myself took patterns and measurements from each dress to make these chemises. We used different types of fabrics for different dresses. For example, the earlier Directoire and Consulate dresses had chemises which were semi- transparent which is appropriate for this early period. The redingotes and pelisses had silk under dresses to give the impression that there was an actual dress under the garment. The dresses after the 1808 period had chemises made from a medium weight cotton to give the impression of more 'layers' which started to be worn under the dresses of this period. The support chemises were semi fitted, but had a drawstring at the high waist and neckline to give extra fit. Following the fashion in Costume Parisien, Cristina Barreto was inspired to use some coloured chemises to enhance the actual dress. You can see this with the example below of Fortunee which has a gold coloured silk support chemise.

Fortunee with no support chemise.

After with gold silk support chemise.
Below is a detail photo of 'Eglantine'. You can see here the support chemise has been fixed to the mannequin using invisible body tape between the breasts. This gives the impression of an underpinning with a busk which is appropriate for 1815.

All of the dresses had a support chemise apart from 'Therese' which is the sleeveless dress of the Directoire period. This was to show the extreme of fashion in this epoch which was well documented in contemporary illustrations. The post 1808 dresses with chemises made of a thicker material still were slightly transparent which makes you wonder how many layers would have been worn underneath in the epoch?
Virginie before restoration with incorrect chemise support
Virginie after with correct support chemise
Cecile with light pink support chemise.

*Please do not reproduce these images without permission. Thank you*