In writing an account of the Ball for The Graphic, Lady Violet Greville felt, as she spoke of the Princess of Wales, constrained to quote the 16th-century French author Brantôme who described Marguerite de Valois as “robed in cloth of silver with long sleeves, her hair richly dressed and her whole appearance of such grace and majesty that she resembled more a goddess from heaven than a Queen upon earth.”
At long last I can share my costume with the world. Eight months ago I entered my final year at Wimbledon College of Art studying Costume Interpretation. Our first assignment was to create a costume to compliment the new exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace entitled ‘In Fine Style’. As I walked around the Red Room during the Da Vinci exhibition I could never imagine that just a short while later my own costume would grace this majestic room.
I chose to recreate the fancy dress costume of Alexandra, Princess of Wales dressed as Marguerite de Valois worn to the Duchess of Devonshire House Ball in 1897. As I was the intern for The Tudor Tailor last year and helped to make the costumes and work on the photo shoot for the new book The Tudor Child (I cried when I found my name in the Acknowledgements) I was requested to create the costume of the Hon. Louvima Knollys who accompanied Alexandra as her page.
The skirt and bodice is entirely finished by hand. I started with eight small appliqués to build my shape and completed the surface decoration by hand based on the photos. I thought after this costume I would never wish to string another pearl or couch another row again but for my final costume I am still working on beading. I was able to study close ups of the image at the National Archives and I was graciously granted permission to study hi-res images of the 4 existing photographs of Alexandra. Both of these allowed me to re-create what is hopefully a very close historic reproduction of this costume.
I am grateful to both of my models, to all of the researchers who assisted me in this endeavour to track down photos to study, to you my followers who continue to inspire me, and most of all to my mother who was very patient during my frantic midnight phone calls.
I will leave you with the quote that first came to mind when my models descended the staircase into the gallery last night, ‘ She [Alexandra] came down one day in a marvellous … long flowering train. She dazzled me utterly, I was speechless with adoration’.
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.
Calling all followers, I have need of your assistance! I am working on my final project for Uni and I am looking for extant examples of back lacing 18th century bodices or any information on 18th century dance costumes.
There are officially a couple thousand of you so I am very hopeful that someone will have spotted something. Any help is appreciated, thanks so much loves!
Sorry, the first bodice is from FIDM, the second is from the Met, the third is the inside of Sofia Magdalena’s wedding gown, and Marie Antoinette’s apple green bodice.
#5913 - c. 1986 JUNE ANDERSON Stage Worn Opera Gown and Original Massive Slip! This EXTRAORDINARY, SUMPTUOUS gown arrived to me from the owner and WOWed me! And as you can see from my website, it takes a lot to WOW me!!! The gown weighs an astonishing 9 pounds and the half slip under weighs ANOTHER 9 pounds!!! I have no idea how they moved in these gowns, but they did! I have photos (don’t come with the gown, just up on the website) of the original sketches by Michael Stennett (thank you Michael!!). The gown is in a wearable size of 35” bust, 27” waist and 41” long from waist to hem in front, 70” long in back. Excellent condition!! This gown was designed by Mr. Stennett for Susan Patterson and created by the San Francisco Opera Company, and then worn by June Anderson the following year for the same production. June Anderson’s name is inside the gown, and Susan Patterson’s name is inside the slip. Huge gold bullion tassels hang down the front, metallic embroidered fabrics…. just a masterpiece! Breathtaking! NEW LISTING!
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.
My 1860s mourning undergarments took a grand total of 4 days to finish. I am working on the bodice lining toile right now! I’m hoping to finish this up early next week and prepare for my final costume for the Degree Show!
Unfortunately the Musée Des Beaux-Arts De Lyon’s website is down but I can still share the inspiration for my new gown with you!
The original text reads: “C’est une robe-chemise blanche en mousseline de coton, à traîne, à manches courtes et au décolleté carré. Elle date de 1805 : On l’appelle demi-parure. C’est la tenue idéale que Juliette Récamier pouvait porter le soir pour briller en société ou aller au bal, mais ce n’est pas non plus une robe de Cour”.
Please forgive my terrible English translation (assisted by Google translate when I got stuck): ” A dress of white cotton muslin, train, short sleeves and square neckline. It dates from 1805 and is called a half-set. This is the perfect outfit that Juliette Recamier would wear in the evening (google translate says) to shine in society (?), or go to the ball, but this is not a Court gown. ”
I. am. in. LUST.
late 18th century
Material: straw appliqué with geometric motifs and an arabesque design; a mirror and decorations imitating architecture and plants on the inner side of the lid; an inner box separated into six lidded compartments.Dimension: 22cm (length) / 33cm (width) / 11.2cm (height)
Straw-work sewing box, decorated all over with parquetry. The exterior of the lid is inlaid with sailing ship and townscape marquetry, and there are traces of coloring. Inside surfaces of the box also have parquetry decorations, pigmented with a variety of colors. Straw-work, which was produced throughout Europe in the 18th century, is a craft that involves splitting straws open lengthways, flattening them out, then gluing them together onto paper to form a board that is used for decoration.
Parquetry and the related decoration technique of marquetry were often used in the 17th and 18th centuries. In marquetry, flat pieces of wood used for the background and patterns are placed on top of one another, then a design is cut into them so that one fits into the other. In contrast, parquetry involves cutting the flat pieces of wood into certain shapes, which are then combined to create continuous geometric patterns. The sewing box utilizes both of these techniques.
Thank you to Stéphane Casali for his beautiful portraits from the Hodson event. The rest of the gallery can be seen here.
I have one class left in this semester and the Tudor Tailor book launch (I can’t wait to see our hard work in print!) on Friday. I promise I will start keeping up with my blog! I still have to tell you all about the Titanic II London Launch, I’ve been terrible I’m so sorry everyone!
I’m home! I feel that I must apologize in advance as this week is going to be extremely busy and I won’t have much time to blog! I have to be in class tomorrow, go in Thursday and try to prepare for a final fitting next week on my WWI Nurse, and prepare for the London launch of the Titanic II on Saturday!
I was going to make one post and talk about my costumes that I made for the Hodshon Huis Ball in Haarlem but I’m a bit rushed on time this week. I’ve been terribly naughty by not updating The Mended Soul and once life settles down I’ll get on that right away!
Until then I’ll post a sneak peek of my very first pelisse (see! I do smile in photos!), the dinner, and my favorite lemon tart! I was offered one slice and instead I passed my slice to the waiter (technically they were called our servants but I wasn’t very comfortable with that term) and took the whole plate from him!
Many of my friends have very kindly told me that I resemble Hortense de Beauharnais and so I decided that it would only be fitting to base my ball gown on her portrait.
I hope these will suffice until I am able to make a proper post!
A sneak peek of my costume that will be shown at Buckingham Palace on May 18th. The entire front panel has been hand beaded based on the pattern present on the original garment and a few lace appliques that have then been hand beaded. I had my second to last fitting last night and I am so thrilled with how it has turned out.