Saturday, January 2, 2010

100 years ago in fashion

2010. Just think about it for a second: 100 years ago, it was 1910. The world had not yet lived through two World Wars, or the Titanic, and the most popular car was the Ford Model T! King Edward VII died in may of that year, ending the Edwardian Era as we now call it.

Let's reminisce a little about that period, which most of our great-grandparents probably knew.

Les Dessous Elegants, Mars 1910, page27 (From Wikipedia Commons)

In 1910, women still wore corsets. This piece of underwear would soon disappear from the fashionable lady's drawer, thanks to designers such as Paul Poiret and world changing events such as the Great War, but for now it was still present. It was known as the Long-Line Corset as it covered the hips and thighs to agree with the new style of dress in which the width of the skirt had moved from the waist down to the ankles. And F.Y.I., this corset used strips of elastic fabric in it's construction.

1910 Fashion Plate (From Wikipedia Commons)

Around that time, there was a Classical revival in fashion. Inspired by the early 18th century style of dresses, themselves inspired by Ancient Rome and Athens, the waistline moved up (but not as high as in Regency Fashion) and the skirts became straighter. It is to achieve this look that the Long-Line Corset was developed.

Hat, 1911-1913, 20th century, 14.3 cm, Gift of Mrs. Ward Pitfield. M970.29.9 © McCord Museum

In Edwardian times, women wore huge hats, with wide brims, and heavily decorated with feathers and flowers; the bigger the head wear was, the better.

In 1910, the woman who wore all these would have been a very fashionable lady. Nothing to do with throwing on jeans and a t-shirt to run to the grocery store! (I agree the latter is much faster to put on and much more comfortable.)

And what did the men wear?

Executive, McGill Union, Montreal, QC, 1910, Wm. Notman & Son, 1910, 20th century, Photograph, Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process, 20 x 25 cm, Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd. II-178206 © McCord Museum

A three-piece suit over a shirt an tie. As you can see from the picture, it hasn't evolved all that much in a century. The biggest change in men's wear (and this is also true for women) is the loss of the hat. Until the 60's, no well dressed person would leave their home without a hat, where as today, hats are either fashion statements or worn for practical reasons (for instance, here in the winter it is highly recommended you wear a tuque to keep warm). In 1910, men would mostly wear either Derby or Bowler hats.

Are you feeling a little nostalgic? I mean, none of us were actually alive back then (unless I have 100 year old readers), but still, people looked good. But I do love my jeans.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A little contest to start the year

When I was at the fabric store last, to buy what I was missing for my Victorian Christmas Dress, I happened to find a beautiful piece of material in the discount section of the store. You know the one: it is usually in the back of the store, everything is on cardboard rolls, piled up and mixed, and the rolls usually say that the fabric is 100% unknown fiber. You can often find beautiful things there for a fraction of their original price.

That is what happened to me. I was looking around, just for the fun of it, and I spotted something green with blue undertones that I believed was polyester. I grabbed it, not caring how much of it was left and what the price was. As it turns out, I got two metres of material for the sale price of 3.50$ a metre.

Now here is the kicker: when I got home, I realized it was actually silk. Two tone Dupioni silk to be exact. And I got two metres for 7$. That is awesome... but I have no clue what to make with it. As I said, I didn't really think about it.

So I want you to decide. This is what I propose: for the next two months (until March 1st, 2010), I will accept suggestions in the comment box or via e-mail. It can be a costume, a funky looking piece of clothing, anything I can make myself to wear. It can also come from any source you want; it could even be a commercial pattern. If you want to add a link to a picture that shows me what your idea is, that would be awesome. Just remember the constraint: there is only two metres of fabric and I want it to be the main material I use for the item I will make, and I wear a size 16. Be sure to give me a name and an e-mail, so I can contact you if your suggestion is the one I pick, and if you have one, a website address. On March 6, I will announce a winner by featuring them and their past creations in a post.

Interested? Start posting those suggestions.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year (Costuming) Resolutions

New Year is here. 2009 is already over. Can you believe it? I don't think I want to.

Following the tradition, I too will take a few resolutions. Well, three to be exact. That's my number. I mean, why bother with more, since I probably won't stick to them anyways (just kidding; well...). But of course, I won't bore you with the weight loss or cleaning ones. Let's just stick to costumes. So here goes.

Resolution Number One

I will finish the costumes that are already cut and waiting to be assembled. That includes
Arwen's Angel Dress, a Light Blue Velvet Medieval Dress, a Tartan Skirt, a Valentine Yukata, my Cybergoth Geisha outfit, a Pink Velvet Irish Dance Solo dress (size 10, for sale) and these are only the ones I can remember.

Three skirt panels of unfinished Pink Velvet Irish Dancing Solo Dress

Also, if I wish to start a new project, i.e. one that is not already cut, I will try to use the stuff I have in my Stash already. For instance, I have all the material I need to make Eowyn's Green Gown and I have had them for quite a good number of years too.

The last part of this resolution will probably be the toughest for me to stick to, because pretty much all of my fabrics were bought with a specific project in mind, so if I suddenly want to do something else (right now, Otakuthon comes to mind - I have no fabric planned for an Anime or Manga costume), I'll have to buy new material.

Resolution Number Two

I will learn a new skill. I have been wanting to learn embroidery for years, but I never seem to find the time. It is an important skill for a historical costumer to have, especially one who hopes to work in the movie business one day. So this year, that is what I will teach myself.

Resolution Number Three

Okay, this is part news, part resolution. In the last year, I have been thinking of starting a costuming group here in Québec. I mean, no offence to my friends of
l'Alliance Impériale, but that group is no longer what it used to be. Besides, I would like to start a group for all costumers, whatever their costume preference, and organize events. For instance, remember my idea to have a day at the beach in Victorian Bathing Suits? It could be interesting.

The way I imagine it, it would be somewhat like the
International Costumer's Guild, but bilingual and local. I'll need some help of course (if you live in Québec and are interested in such a venture, e-mail me). For the moment, the name I have come up with is "La Société des Costumières et Costumiers du Québec" (the Québec Costumer's Society). Anyways, it is still a work in progress, but it is something I really want to do.

So what about you? What are your costuming resolutions?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Luna Lovegood's Christmas Tree Dress

I have FINALLY seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). The special edition DVD was amongst my many gifts (thank you Aunt M.) and watching it bonus features and all was all I did on boxing day. I waited until today to mention this because I wanted to add Luna Lovegood's Christmas Tree Dress to my Wishlist.

Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

It is really quirky, just like Luna, and yet it's absolutely adorable. Besides, with my natural blond locks, my choice of Ravenclaw as my House, I often say that I am Luna when I cosplay as a Hogwarts student. Add to that the slimming factor of layers and you know I'm bound to love it!

Looking around the net, I've been able to find a few good pictures of this dress. The following one shows in detail the neckline frill, which makes it look very vintagey to me, as well as the rhinestones on the fabric, which I hadn't noticed before, and the earrings.

Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

I also found the next one on Cinereplica ("Cinereplicas in the Harry Potter's train!"). It is a picture of the actual dress seen on display.

Luna Lovegood's dress for Porfessor Slughorn's party

It is upon seeing that picture that I realized the dress was actually purple. I honestly thought it was silver. I can also say that I believe the outer layer to be made of Organza.

Now the only thing I couldn't find a picture of is the bracelet. In the Making-Of video where Evanna Lynch sits down with Costume Designer Jany Temine, they talk about it and they even show it to us. Apparently, Evanna made the beaded jewelry that Luna wears on screen. For the bracelet, she made a little rabbit, as that is the shape of Luna's Patronus.

Haven't seen that video? That's all right, I found it for you on YouTube.

I do love making costumes from the Harry Potter Movies. Expect to see quite a few more appear on my Wishlist in the future.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Costume Book Review: 18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh

Every Christmas and Birthday, I am spoiled with presents, which very often include books. I keep a very long wish list on, so whenever my mom or my aunts wonder what to get me, they can pick a book from that list. This Christmas, I got four new books (well, it was five, but there was one my mom bought for me that I already had, so we returned it and I got clothes instead), so today, I thought I'd tell you about one of them.

By now, I guess you know that one of my favorite costume period is the 18th century. I really like the shape of Panniers dresses, but the ones I make are always kind of plain. I use nice fabric and all, but is never as impressive as the real thing, because I don't decorate them they way I could. Cue in my new book: I was very excited to get 18th Century Embroidery Techniques by Gail Marsh in my presents.
I've only had time to flip through it, but it is a beauty. It is filled with close-ups of decorative embroidery goodies, patterns and drawings. There is also a little historical background on the embroiderer's trade, the way they worked on garments, etc. For instance, did you know that the pattern piece was drawn on the fabric, which was then embroidered and then cut to be assembled? It is much easier to work on a flat surface than on a shapeless, limp piece of fabric!

Of course, as the titles mentions, there is also a little how-to. It is organized by types of decoration and associated with examples. But it is not for absolute beginners. If you don't know the basics, I suggest you learn before you decide to tackle one of these projects.

Now I really have learn to embroider.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Movie Monday: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

My, my! I apparently missed this one. The last movie to feature Heath Ledger (and a bunch of other very talented actors) came out last Friday, and it is filled with costumes. Have you heard of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)?

Just from the trailer, you can see I'm going to be incapable of focussing on the story: too many costumes to look at! Of course, right off the top, you know I've got my eye on that turquoise jacket and hat.

Lily Cole as Valentina, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see that movie.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Virgin Mary's Blue Robe

I'm off to Church (Gag me!) with my in-laws (I'll spare you the details). So today's post will be short and sweet!

Quick question: Why is the Virgin Mary's robe blue?

Madonna in Glory, by Carlo Dolci (Italy, 1616-1686), c. 1670, Oil on canvas

If you have answered "Because blue is the colour of the sky", you are wrong. That is a modern association.

The truth is (according to one of my Art History teachers), during the Renaissance, the most expensive pigment an artist could use was blue. Blue was made of crushed Lapis-Lazuli. Out of respect for "God's Mother", the people who commissioned representations of Mary wanted to give her the best and most expensive robe; the richer the commissioner, the purer the colour!

Gotta go, wouldn't want to be late for the service, now would we!

Edit: We were late and we skipped Church entirely. Darn weather! Oh well... (Thank you Mother Nature!)