When I walk down to the docks to wave farewell to the smiling masses onboard the MS Balmoral, I will see the ghosts of those who set sail for a better life smiling back at me. For this moment 1912 and 2012 will be intertwined as one, the past and the present overlapping through the pages of history.
When I first found this image I referred to it as the Farewell suit and about 32 seconds later I renamed it the Safe Journey suit because farewell is entirely too final.
This suit has now been lovingly dubbed the Balmoral suit because it’s the one I re-created to wear on Sunday to see the Balmoral off. I will post about the making of this costume tonight in The Mended Soul.
If you do happen to be joining us in Southampton to see the Titanic Memorial Cruise off then do stop by the market on Saturday! I will be giving two presentations on 1912 fashion. Message me for more details because I would love to say hello!
On Sunday you will find us walking around with other costumed re-enactors at the docks. When the ship sails I will most likely be the one with net pulled over her face to disguise any tears that might be streaming down my face. I fear that I will become overwrought with emotion. After 100 years she is finally going to reach her destination!
I had a very long conversation with the woman from the White Star Liner last week and we discussed the effects the sinking of the Titanic had on the community.
I usually try my hardest to avoid taking an opinion because this blog is about sharing my love of fashion, history, and costume. It’s not really about me presenting one view because I would like you to form your own opinions. That said I apologize in advance but I feel very strongly about this topic (also, I’ve had a few people write and ask what my official stance is on whether I’m for or against the Memorial Cruise!). To clarify, I am completely 110% for the Cruise.
This weekend is not meant to be sad, this is a celebration that the Titanic launched, that for a brief time she was the Queen of the Ocean. Although the MS Balmoral will be leaving one day early from Southampton (believe it or not the Balmoral can’t match the speed of the Titanic!) this weekend we are re-enacting the joy, hopes, and dreams that travelled along with the ship. Even though the Titanic did not make it to her final destination, this weekend is about the joy and beauty of seeing her off. A celebration of what she was before the disaster if you will.
I’m honored to have been invited to take part in marking this momentous occasion. There have been so many arguments made against this Cruise and so I can only hope that your worry will be assuaged after reading what my position on the purpose of the Titanic Memorial Cruise is.
During our conversation the topic of the mixed feelings from the residents of Southampton was raised. Some believe the Memorial Cruise is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the life of those who built and sailed with the Titanic. Others think that the cruise is glorifying the death of those who perished.
I disagree. The Cruise is a floating memorial. How many other disasters have been able to pierce through the pages of time and to twist your heart with sadness? (For History fans like myself who still mark the days that Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette were executed are not allowed to answer that question!)
This Cruise is a final requiescat in pace to those who were unable to say goodbye to the family they would never know. Relatives of survivors who grew up listening to the heartbreaking stories their families faced onboard will finally have the chance to say farewell. In their hearts they will carry the memory of the survivors, their loved ones who were never given the chance to say goodbye to the ones they lost during that perilous night one hundred years ago.
The time for sadness will be when the Balmoral reaches the wreckage and the bells toll around 2:20 am to mark the 100th year to the moment the Titanic slipped into the pages of history. The tears will freely flow into the ocean below in a cathartic release of that terrible, heart wrenching pain we’ve all felt for the past century. It is my firm belief that by finally being able to mark this moment over the final resting place of the RMS Titanic the ghosts of the past will be laid to rest.
I only wish I could see the Balmoral sail into New York. That city has been waiting 100 years for this moment and what a bittersweet arrival it will be.
This year the Balmoral will carry with her the memory of over 1,500 souls that were never able to sail into New York, many bound for a new life full of dreams and opportunities. This year they will finally reach their destination, and what a glorious sight that will be.
“This boy’s suit is made of wool tartan, or plaid fabric, and dates to the late 1860s. Tartans from Scotland have fluctuated in and out of fashion throughout time. During the second half of the 19th century, tartan popularity was renewed by the English royal family. Queen Victoria and her family frequently vacationed in the ancestral home at Balmoral, in Scotland. It was there where tartans, known as plaids today, were adopted as a kind of getaway attire. This outfit is trimmed with black silk velvet. The skirt is cut on the bias, or cross grain of the fabric, for a more fluid drape. The tucks in the front of the tuxedo-like shirt hints at the adult man this wearer was to become, and stands alone in an otherwise female-oriented little boy’s outfit. The jacket is modeled after a Zouave jacket, a style that became popular for women’s wear in the 1860s.”