On Saturday the 14th of September I woke up with the conviction that no matter what happened I would smile the entire day. I would not give myself a single moment to process the fact that today would mean that I was less than 48 hours from the moment I would stand at security and cry as I hugged my friends goodbye at Heathrow.
I decided that for this event I wanted something special and decided to tackle a project I have wanted to do for nearly two years. My spencer is fashioned after the one worn by Louise of Prussia. It is the first time I have ever used proper tailoring methods and I now have a great respect for pad stitching. My bonnet was created last February for the Keetje Hodshon Regency Ball in Haarlem by the magnificent Lynn McMasters with a few feathers added on top by yours truly.
I started off the morning with an interview by a Japanese morning show being televised live in Tokyo. I thrilled the reporter by replying in my rusty Japanese. I was then borrowed for another interview for a morning show in Bath. During the promenade I took immense pleasure in photo-bombing tourist photos, especially throwing up the peace sign with Japanese tourist who nearly fainted in shock.
After the promenade a man remarked that I looked like Lydia Bennet rushing off towards the soldiers, I countered by saying that I was indeed Fanny Price searching for Edmund. A complete stranger stopped and turned around to say ‘My dear there is no way you could be plain Fanny, you are Mary Crawford without the attitude’. As a Jane Austen devotee (especially to Mansfield Park) this is one of the most touching compliments I have ever received and I will carry it with me. I was utterly taken aback (in the most positive of ways) and a friend had to make apologies for my sudden loss of speech and thank her for me.
Through friends I was able to find photos of me on three major news websites including The Guardian which I am completely tickled and honoured by. The most amazing moment was when I poured myself a cup of smoky earl grey from my dwindling stock of Fortnum & Mason tea jar and settled down on Flickr to peruse the photos.
Words cannot describe my utter shock at finding so many photos of myself (especially the ones with the little girls. I LOVE photos with children). The best moment came when I came across the page of Steve Wassell ( All rights reserved by fat-freddies-cat ). I don’t want to use the word shy (because I am definitely not) but I am usually very aware of my smile because when I am happy I have the tendency to grin very wide. But to see this photo and see how happy I was reflected in my eyes is completely priceless. Mr. Wassell, I am unsure if you will ever see this but I cannot find the words to thank you enough for the gift you have given me. You have allowed me a form of closure, I am able to look back on this weekend and recognize it for the truly magical time it was. I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend my last few days with my dearest and closest friends before flying off with a smile on my heart and in my eyes.
Hello my darlings! I apologize for the neglect, not only was I rushed to pack my flat but I found myself without wi-fi until I reached Bath. I have now returned to the United States and will be in Texas next week for an interview. It’s a slow process of returning my life to some semblance of order but I am so relieved to be back in the States. I have so many things to share with you from last weekend but because it is so picture heavy I will be posting laster this weekend on The Mended Soul. Until then please enjoy this teaser photo of Katrina Edelweiss (in her beautiful handstitched smocked gown) and me (also in my handstitched court gown) at the Farthingales Ball in Bath!
I finally got around to posting about The Dress like a Georgian Day Picnic last month at St. James’ Park, please click through to The Mended Soul for a step-by-step on making this gown.
'TO PAY HOMAGE to the wonderful 18th Century, and backed by popular demand, I give to you the fabulous, taffeta flounced, tricorn wearing, pannier padded, fan fluttering ‘Dress Like a Georgian Day’!!!
So wherever you are use this one day to express your inner 18th Century character. Of course if you already have an 18th Century gown or frock coat at your disposal then that is marvellous, but failing that there are plenty of ‘Nouveau Rococo’ styles you could work with…. think pirate, think billowing shirts, think corsets, jewellery, big and extravagant hair styles! This is not one purely for the ladies, and I would like to say I am not the first woman to swoon at the site of a man in a good frock coat!
I will be there!
Scott Pierre Nicolas Legrand’s Apotheosis of Nelson, c. 1805–18. Nelson ascends into immortality as the Battle of Trafalgar rages in the background. He is supported by Neptune, whilst Fame holds a crown of stars as a symbol of immortality over Nelson’s head. A grieving Britannia holds out her arms, whilst Hercules, Mars, Minerva and Jupiter look on.
This is one of my favorites works of art.
When I received my invitation to the Hampshire Regency Dancers Ball I only read two lines before I decided I had to attend:
'As Jane Austen wrote in 'Pride & Prejudice' “Do not you feel a great inclination, Miss Bennet, to seize such an opportunity of dancing a reel?”
Where better to dance a reel & celebrate the 200th anniversary of the novel than at this year’s Hampshire Regency Dancers Ball’.
An amusing thing happened late Saturday night. I had just finished the Swiss Allemande and was dancing down the dark hallway in search of a glass of water when I heard someone behind me gasp. I turned around to find the head of the house at the end of the hallway staring at me with his hand over his heart as if he has seen a ghost. I finally broke the silence to enquire if he was alright as he was quite pale but this caused him to step back against the wall. Very worried I walked towards him which seemed to alarm him greatly. Then I realized that in my white gown in the darkened hallway of Chawton House I must have looked like the ghost that was haunting the home. Which I of course took as a grand compliment! I wanted to achieve a floating gossamer feel for the ball. While making this gown I frequently practiced the Duke of Kent’s Waltz to ensure that it floated properly.
My evening gown is a direct copy of the following fashion plate (click the link): 1817- Ackermann’s Repository Series2 Vol 3 - April Issue
So my friend messaged me and said I was on the gift shop page for the Jane Austen Centre and I though right, like that could ever be me. I went to the page fully prepared to correct him and nearly knocked my tea cup over!!
Oh my gosh it is me!!!
Off to the Tudor Revels! If you are in Southampton stop by for my lectures on Tudor fashion, The Queen in Context: Anne Undressed.