Tuesday, 20 August 2013

18th Century Court Ensembles Project (Or I am a lemming)

Remember the Robe de Cour-project I started two years ago? The truth is that I really did go a bit nut about it, developed a very strong aversion against my shell fabric and quit. But the foundation for the bodice is done and I “just” have to cover it, make the petticoat ad sleeves and decorate it. So when Kendra of Demodé announcedthat she going to make one, and wouldn’t it be nice if more did too, well, what excuses have I left?

But as so often when it comes to costume, I got all contrary with myself and quickly decided that what I really want is the court gown that became the official court wear in Sweden in the 1770's, Gustaf III’s national suit. And I don’t want the black one which I already have the fabric for, but the gala version, which is in white with pale blue decorations. The gown consists of the parts, a sleeveless bodice, a petticoat worn with pocket hoops and a robe with a train, which is worn a la polonaise. The sleeves have the distinctive lattice decoration, which is more striking in the black version than the white, I admit. The national suit wasn’t supposed to change with fashion, but of course it did anyway, and I plan to make mine late 1780. That is purely because J has the gala version for men, which is pale blue with white details, and his is from that period.

There are, as far as I know, no paintings of the gala version, but here is a drawing.
The only extant gown preserved is one in the version for ladies who hasn't been presented at court, de difference is no latticed sleeves and the train is shorter.

Worn as wedding gown by Sofia Lovisa Brüch in 1780


Sanna K said...

This sounds so great! Ever since I sewed the black version, I've wanted to make it in white as well. It's such an unusual gown and I've never seen anyone wear it.

Isis said...

I have only seen two gala versions. One white and one in the original colours, bright red with white details. (It is quite horrid, I understand why it was re-designed.) I think people balk a little at the thought of all that fragile white. But it would be fun to have one!

Kendra said...

I'm so excited you're making this!

And that white dress is stunning. Is the pleated skirt correct?

Isis said...

Kendra: I feel quite exited. :) No, the petticoat is supposed to be made to fit over pocket hoops and not be pleated like that. I think it is made by someone who has only had the gown described, but never really seen it. That can produce some odd effects... There are a really funny painting in the Vatican depicting Gustaf III meeting the pope. He and his entourage was wearing the national suit, but the painter has clearly not seen them and worked from a description. The result is quite hilarious!

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