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.
I try not to post too many personal things on my blog because this is a home to dreams and beautiful realities, where the past and present tilt at windmills heedless of the coming future. It is a place where I can pour my passions, express my frustrations, and to cultivate the person that is simply me.
Since my announcement on leaving London I have received an overwhelming response of kind words. Praise that up until this point had been unspoken by anyone other than family and close friends. To have such a support of talented strangers constantly lifting me up has been an incredible privilege and one I hope to continue for many years.
Yet I have found that stellar road into the internet has been unwelcome to me in the past day. The praise far outweighs the criticism but as I am a mere human with weak sensibilities such words are like salt in my already raw nerves. They continuously echo in my mind so that I find myself boxed in a defensive stance of self-protection.
Which is why I am reblogging a photo that has absolutely nothing to do with what I post about. This picture expresses so much of my current mood that I struggle to find words to even illustrate how welcomed they were, so unprepared for the massive surge of *yes* that welled inside me with no place to go but to crash against my shore.
I have wandered my childhood home the past few days numb. I feel disconnected. Please don’t mistake this for unhappiness for I am thrilled to be moving back to a familiar environment, to seek out the warmth and love of my family that I have missed out on for the past three years. It’s good to be around people who believe you can alter the constellations if you would only point your finger, it is a balm to a weary travelled soul.
But the fact is, I am overwhelmed by this move. It’s so sudden. This is a reverse culture shock. After having lived overseas in two very different continents for the last seven years, I feel frightened.
My parents would never pressure me into anything, indeed they let their baby bird leave the nest and fly across the white capped seas to strike out on her own. They have given me more freedom and support than I can ever thank them for, their love is as unnumbered as the stars themselves. No, the fear I feel is my own fault. I have done enough damage to myself with my constant mantra of ‘Straighten up, stop feeling pathetic and overwhelmed. Life moves forward. Accept this change, embrace it. Act normal’. I am not a naturally quiet person, I am constant as Orion and fearless but these past few days (to my shame and to the concern of my parents) I have moved through the motions and felt nothing but fear. I stand before the unknown, weak in my uncertainty and to find that my great escape has been tainted by a few dark souls leaves me feeling all the more miserable.
So let me make this clear for those that write to express their disappointment in my choices. I am not running from London. No one should ever have to defend their dreams to anyone and I refuse to do so now. I am not giving up on my dreams. I am a recent graduate, so fresh that I worry the ink has yet to dry on my degree. I have lived the past twenty-three years as a student and I find that with a Bachelors degree comes responsibilities that I am struggling to accept. I believe I am allowed a short time to flounder before finding my feet again and I would request respect with this ungainly fumble to regain my footing .
I am starting a new chapter of my life and I need to find who I am again. I need to not worry about finding a job so that I can renew my visa. I need to put the struggles of trying to carve out a place to live in a city so large you can barely breathe at times to the side for just a short while in order to find my way again. I am armed with a compass and a map, like a sailor waiting for the clouds to dissipate in order to see the stars, I need a place to get back on my feet and to find what makes me well, me. .
'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.
My exam for my Bachelors Degree is at 9:55 BST and what no one knows is that what I am wearing is the same outfit I wore three years ago in Singapore to my interview for acceptance into Wimbledon College of Art. I thought it was fitting to close this adventure with what I wore to start it. Please say a small prayer for me or spare a kind thought. My nerves are dancing down my spine.
Undated photo of a sketch of the Queen in her Coronation Dress by British couturier Norman Hartnell
Invitation to Prince Charles to attend the Coronation, 1953, Joan Hassal
Undated photo of a sketch of headdresses designed for peeresses by Norman Hartnell
Royal Collection Trust undated handout photo of a sketch of a robe designed for a peeress by British couturier Norman Hartnell, the principal designer of the outfits worn at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
(Source: Daily Mail)
I don’t normally bother you all with stories about my life but I think what happened today taught me something important and I hope you don’t mind if I share it with you.
I had a really big meeting at Covent Garden, I made it to Waterloo from Surrey and I was cutting it a bit close. The thing you have to understand about London is that everyone is in a hurry. Always. You are always trying to get that extra second in, catch that first tube, get on the train right as the doors close, rushing, always rushing. Londoners never slow down, we can’t because we’ll be late. But for what? If we always rush through life then we forget the important things.
I’m not saying I’m not totally guilty of rushing, and today was no different. I was racing down the stairs at Waterloo to catch the Northern Line when I saw this woman at the bottom with a baby pram. Tiny, blonde lady struggling with a huge pram, smiling at her baby and trying to get up just one step. Men and women alike walked right past her which upset me. My feet started walking before my brain caught up and my mouth opened automatically and I said with my atrocious southern accent which echoed and surprised some of my fellow passengers ‘Hang on there I’m comin’ down to help!’
I figured trains come and go, this is London you can always blame being late on TFL. I grabbed the other end of the pram and smiled. What struck me was how apologetic and shocked she was at me helping her. She kept saying ‘Don’t worry, go for your train. Don’t you need to catch the train? Please don’t be late for me’ and when she realized I wasn’t leaving she started telling me how kind I was and thanking me and just going on about kindness. I smiled at the little baby and said ‘Hello!’ and she giggled. When I turned to go down the stairs I heard her say to her daughter ‘See when you grow up I want you to be like her’. Pretty much set the tone for the rest of my day. I waltzed around with a smile on my face.
Acts of kindness, no matter how small make a day better and brighter. There is no reason to struggle alone, we are put on this Earth to support each other and to constantly work to make this world something more. I didn’t want gratitude, I didn’t help her because I wanted to be some sort of hero, or thanked for being kind. I did it because it was the right thing to do.I hope one person saw what I did and paid it forward.
I am telling you now because I hope one of you reads this and pays it forward.
Just walked in from our rehearsal at The Queen’s Gallery. It’s hard to believe that after nearly eight months this event is a little under 48 hours away.
This final year has flown by so quickly and I can promise that once my two models walk out of the dressing room you will find me in a corner crying tears of joy, stress, relief, and a little sadness. It’s been a good three years at this University and I graduate in a few weeks. It’s a terrifying thought. But onwards and upwards my friends, onwards and upwards.
I am in my final year studying Costume Interpretation at Wimbledon College of Art in London. In our third year we are assigned three major projects.
The first project will be displayed at the opening of ‘In Fine Style’ at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace. More information about that project can be found in this post here. Unfortunately my first and third costumes are still not mine to share but I can happily share with you details about the second costume.
The project was called Ordinary Lives. Part of the assignment was to have this costume completed in six weeks. Unfortunately on the last day of term I started over from WWI and choose to create an 1860s mourning gown which was my very first choice in the beginning.
Why mourning you might ask? I was born in a small town in Tennessee that has direct ties to the Civil War and as a child I often came across items associated with Victorian Mourning in the antique stores. As I grew up my mother encouraged this curiosity. During my breaks when I visit my parents I work with The Woodruff-Fontaine House in Memphis, Tennessee on preserving their amazing costume collection and helping with their exhibitions. Our assignment was to find an image of an everyday person and to recreate their clothing. When I came across Miss Maggie Webber in her second stage of mourning she spoke to me.
I will be discussing the unique features on her undergarments a little later but for now you can see those images here.
All of the long stitches on Maggie’s costume were made by machine but everything else was completed by hand. I am very fond of piping which is reflected in the hand piped armbands, the swiss waist, and neckline of Maggie’s collar. The trim on Maggie’s collar is from an extant costume. According to the dealer the trim came from a shattered 1863 mourning bodice. I find it very fitting that 150 years later it will once again grace a mourning garment. The veil was done by hand and took one and a half episodes of Criminal Minds to complete. The swiss waist was a bit of a challenge simply because I ended up creating my own pattern.
In total, this costume has taken seventeen days to complete. To date I feel that it is one of my strongest pieces and I am very pleased with the outcome. Even though the life of Maggie Webber will forever be shrouded in mystery it is my hope that by recreating her gown I have made sure her memory continues on.