Thursday 25 October 2012

Planning a Victorian circus outfit

Fräulein Frauke Presents is less than a month away and I have at least decided on my costume and bought the fabric. Now I just have to sew it together. I have decided to go as a line dancer, happily noticing that they look rather sturdily built in the 19th century. I plan to make a version of this costume- a boned bodice with a pair of short and puffed bloomers.

Emily Schadel

Leona Dare

Poster for Leona Dare

Miss Farrinton

Nice colours, yes? Dupion silk from Cheap Fabrics, the green for the bodice, the rose is for the bloomers.

The bloomers ought to be pretty easy to make, but I do worry a bit over the bodice. I must make a pattern myself; there is no getting around it. I strongly suspect that I would need to alter a bought pattern so much that it will probably be easier to make it from scratch anyway. I hope I can get it to fit properly, though.

The Trapeze Artist Standing on Her Trapeze by Jules Garnier

I also need to get a small parasol. Can’t be a proper ballerina without a parasol, can I?

Speaking of line dancers, if you want to know a little about a real Victorian ballerina, read the tragic story about Elvira Madigan and her lover Count Sparre at Rags of Time.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Soon to come- the 18th century erotic calendar

Dinner for two by Nicolas Lafrensen the Younger
I mentioned that Gustafs Skål is working on a calendar for 2013 and it is beginning to take shape. We still need to set the price- we want it to cover the costs, but still be as low as possible. However, some of you have expressed an interest in purchasing it and I can now give you some more information about that.

You will be able to buy it through me for the same price that all non-members of Gustafs Skål will be able to buy it for + shipping cost. (If you are a member, then you will get it for the member's price, of course.)

The calendar will be in colour, one picture per month as well as one on the cover. It will be in Swedish with weeks beginning with Monday. Despite being a calendar with an erotic theme, there are no nudity in it, though several stocking-clad legs and a few ladies without their stays! There are also some suggestive posing, but that depends largely in how naughty your minds are...

All the photos are made after an 18th century painting/etching, but are not exact copies. The models are all members of Gustafs Skål who very kindly have lent themselves, their time and their costumes in making this calendar. So have our photographer. All the photos have been snapped at Kristinehovs malmgård in Stockholm, an 18th century house that have been beautifully restored to its former glory.

As soon as possible I will get back to you with price and shipping costs.

Monday 22 October 2012

Men in masks

Comparing to my past masquerade posts, this post have few pictures. Partly, I think, because I don't look at pictures of 18th century men as much as I look at those with women. But also, I am sure, because the fashion of getting a painting of yourself in masquerade costumes, never seem to have been very popular. Why I don't know. Perhaps it was felt to be too frivolous. Here is what little I have found:  

Portrait of Count Grigory Chernyshev with a Mask in His Hand by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, 1793

Usually men in masks are part of a group containing both men and women.

Print made by Charles Joseph Flipart after Pietro Longhi, 1737-1750

Print by Nicola Cavalli after Francesco Maggiotto

Or in more satirical artwork:

Wantonness Mask'd, 1771

The treacherous patriot unmask'd, ca. 1742


Friday 12 October 2012

A book on Victorian masquerade costumes


While wandering around on the Net I found this absolutely delightful little book Fancy dresses described; or, what to wear at fancy balls by Ardern Holt from 1896. The book contain useful tips as well as descriptions to several hundred different costumes, some illustrated very charmingly, so if you ever wondered what to wear, here is your answer. I feel a strong urge to attend a Victorian costume ball now!

A few costume examples: Brown-haired ladies can, for example, dress up as a Bees, Bride of Abydos, Esmeralda, Harvest or Rose of Castille. Blondes on the other hand may go as Arctic Maiden, Canadian Snow-wreath, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Moonlight or a Water-nymph. Elderly ladies can opt to go as My grandmother, Puritan, Wife of the vicar of Wakefield or Mother Hibbard. Men’s costumes isn’t covered in this book, though there are an appendix for boy’s clothes but a married couple can go as Jack and Jill, Cock and Hen, Day and Night or King and Queen.

The book then describes what is proper to wear on the increasingly popular Calico balls, i.e. masquerades where you were cotton. Like Bo-peep, Five O’clock Tea or One of the Rising Generation. However, Calico is a rather elastic word- cotton-backed satin and cotton velvet can be worn.

As it is very uncomfortable to dance without gloves, one has to make allowances for them. Peasant-girls and other simple costumes can make do with mittens. There are also suggestions as hot to wear your hair for various types of costumes. For 18th century costumes it is advised not to wear wigs, as they are heavy and unbecoming. Instead, dress your hair with brilliantine and then powder it with Violet powder. A so called Poudré ball may see the guests in their usual finery, but with powdered hair.

Remember that a costume ball demand more attention on decorations and that also servants and musicians should be in costume. As for dances, country dances are very popular.

The main section describes all the costumes. Here are a few examples, but I think you should go and read the book in whole for all the suggestions.

ASTROLOGY. Short striped satin skirt in amber, black and red. Cabalistic sign on a band of amber, displaying cat’s heads. Bodice and paniers in red satin with the same insignia, all studded with gold and silver stars; short shoulder cape of black satin, black pointed cap with similar signs; powdered hair. Books and telescope carried in the hand.

BAT. Short dress in grey, blue and gold with long sleeves attached to arm from shoulder to wrist, in the semblance of bat wings. A bow on the front of the bodice recalls a bat with outstretched wings. Bat in hair.

DEW. White crystal tulle dress, trimmed with green grass; veil studded with crystal drops. Hair hanging loose, sprinkled with frosting powder; wreath of grasses.

FENCING. A skirt with perpendicular strips of velvet and leather. A leather jacket with a red heart embroidered on the side. A fencing mask forming a headdress; foils hung at the side.

INFLUENZA. Dress of grey tulle with a hot water bottle on one side and a packet of mustard leaves on the other. A pair of scales in the hair attached to a bandeau on which appears the word “quinine”.

OSTRICH. Ostrich all white and black feathers; an arrangement of plumes at the waist counterfeit the train; head-dress, the bird’s head.

The book end with a several pages long advertisement for Debenhams’s & Freebody.

Thursday 4 October 2012

New stays in the making

As I mentioned in my last post I’m currently involved in a calendar project for The Society of Gustafs Skål. So far my involvement has been with giving a helping hand with the makeup, but J and I are also engaged to be in a picture, namely this one by Jean-Honoré Fragonard from the 1760’s:

This version can be found at Nationalmuseum in Sweden and is called “Den vackra tjänsteflickan” (The beautiful servant girl). One thing I have to do is figuring out what woman is wearing. She is definitely dressed in a chemise and stocking, but either she wear a petticoat that matches the curtains, or perhaps it is the curtain all the way. I suspect that it doesn’t matter much what it is as long as we can make it look similar to the painting. Her chemise does look rather fitted and in another version, more darkly called The Useless Resistance, it looks more like she is wearing a pair of brown stays:

As I feel a bit uncomfortable wallowing around unsupported in a chemise I have decided that I will wear stays. And as I don’t have any brown ones, a new pair of stays are in the making. I happen to like making stays and it’s the only item of clothing that I can make any claims at being able to make quickly. I have a true and tested basic pattern that I tweak to fit the requirements of my hosen style. This pair will not be my usual front- and back laced, but only back-laced. I found some linen in a nice reddish brown colour that seems similar enough to the picture.

I used chamois leather to bind my blue stays and really enjoyed working with it, so I will bind these stays with it too and match it with boning channels in yellow. But how to bone them? Easiest would be to make something similar to these:

Stays ca. 1780, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number 2009.300.3100a, b

I have done that before, and it is a bit boring. I do need them to be fully boned in the front to give me the right amount of support. These are still quite heavily boned, but have a bit more interesting front with the crossed stitching lined and the laced slit down the front.

Stays ca. 1780, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accession Number: 1984.8

There are quite a few stays with a slit like that, and I don’t think it would be too difficult to make.

Stays 1785-1790, McCord Museum, Accession Number: M969X.26
I want shoulder straps, but I would like them to be fairly narrow, so I think I will make them similar to these.

Leather stays ca. 1763, Nationalmuseum, Accession Number: NM.0011194

I also like the look of a broader pinked border underneath the arms, so I might to that too.

Stays 1780-1789, Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum number:T.172-1914

I don’t claim historical correctness when I stitch my stays together. I usually sew them together and then do the boning channels, all on my machine. Here they are after the stitched together but before the sewing channels-stage.

I always think my stays looks odd and out of proportion, but that is an example of stays fitted to a particular body. In this case mine with a narrow back, big chest and high waist.

And here I ran into difficulties. My sturdy 1960’s machine have no troubles sewing through thick layers of linen and it has no problems sewing with a heavier thread either. I don’t, however, have my machine at hand at the moment. Right now I’m living in our summer house as they are re-doing the plumbing at home and the machine there is a plastic Bernette who gets into a temper if I demand anything strenuous of it. The pan was that we were to move back tomorrow, but today we found out that the plumbing won’t be done until Wednesday, at the earliest. Very, very annoying and inconvenient, but even more so, if sets my stay sewing back several days and I’m unsure if I will be able to finish them in time. I could always wear my blue stays, even if the colour is wrong- we are, after all, not making exact copies of the paintings. So now I’m thinking if I should make a go in hand-sewing the boning channels. I have some time to kill this weekend, but I have no idea how long it will take to make them by hand. It’s over 10 years ago that I hand-stitched a pair of stays and I don’t remember how long it took.

Still, even if I don’t make it, I won’t make it if I wait until I get home. So I can at least try. Or?

Monday 1 October 2012

Paintings that tickle

Next year my 18th century society, Gustafs Skål, will turn 20 and we have a lot of fun thing planned to celebrate. One of these things is an erotic calendar- 18th century style. Every age, of course, has depicted naked people and for example Boucher practically wallows in naked flesh. Make a picture search for Boucher and Leda for the most lewd version of that tale I have ever seen. But this calendar of course isn’t meant to be pornographic, there will be no naked breasts, but a lot of wrists and knees- such pieces of anatomy that the 18th century fashion hid and that was considered quite risqué then. Now they are not, but that’s the point- we wanted to make a calendar with pictures that was a naughty then, but not now.

Une élegante á sa toilette by Michel Garnier
We are in the process of taking the photos now, we finished four yesterday and will do the rest in a fortnight. Though we don’t have the resources to exactly copy paintings, but we are using paintings and engravings from the 18th century as template for our photos. I’m part of the planning group and we have had great fun choosing pictures and hunting for models. Everyone participating are members of Gustafs Skål and none of us are models, but I think it will be a very nice calendar even so. I and J are going to be in one picture and I’m a bit nervous- I have never been in a real photoshoot in my life, I hope it will be all right even so.
Here is a collection of such naughty painting, some that we will be using in the calendar and some who didn’t make it.

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