Friday, July 29, 2011

1812 short gowns

 More 1812 short gowns for Fort George.

 Last summer we made some short gowns to field test. Some results came back, in need of repairs. So, I have made two more, with some changes, to overcome the problems the repairs revealed. This first gown was unlined. I used twill tape to create the casing at the neckline and waist.

One of the issues was the neckline tearing. I determined that this was because the neckline had been clipped in order to turn it more easily. Using the tape and a narrow seam with no clipping, should be stronger. Being unlined made the back pleats thinner and therefore, less fabric under the casing, which also tore in the field test.

This was a really nice print.

Number two was lined with a nice print, bought on sale as it has faded. That made it an easy choice as a lining.  In 2010, I developed new patterns for the short gowns in small, medium and large.

Twill tape was again used at the neck and waist casings. I also trimmed away the lining at the pleats, to reduce bulk. Let's hope it lasts well! These are now off to be worn the rest of the summer.

Part of the problem, I surmised, was that short gowns are meant to gather in at the drawstrings. That means they are a loose garment, usually worn over stays. I have a feeling it was worn too tight, which caused wear and tear. Literally! 

That's the challenge with dressing folks long distance, when the training doesn't sink in, as to how to wear the clothing of another era. Modern folks are too used to Lycra!! Their expectations of fit are strange. I'm still bemused how anyone can possibly be a size zero!! It simply does not compute!!

A beautiful 19120's style wedding dress left the studio this week. Of course, I cannot reveal it until after the wedding!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 1812 ball gowns left the studio this week. It's always sad to see them go. I have been showing them to so many visitors to the studio. The reactions are always good to hear and see. Our day to day clothes may be practical or comfortable, but we all secretly love the fancy stuff!

I took these photos at the last fitting. Meet Emilie (in mauve) and Lesley ( in blue), who work for Fort Wellington in Prescott, Ontario, Canada. They'll be wearing these costumes at various events commemorating the War of 1812 over the next couple of years.

I'm happy I took the pictures this way, as they show the front and back of each gown. They are silk taffeta, lined in cotton.

Here are pictures of Emilie's Spencer, which is unfinished. It will get lace inside the collar and frogs to close the front. Lesley will have a shawl and pelisse, which is a long coat. It needs braid and sleeves before I can show it off.

It's burgundy velvet and shows darker than the photo shows. Don't you love the little pleats at the back? This pattern is taken from an original garment. It features the classic "M" notch at the lapel, which was fashionable in 1812. The extra long sleeves were fashionable also. Sometimes they were folded back to form a cuff, still keeping the sleeve below the wrists.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More 1812 sleeves

The 1812 gowns are coming along. This is the sleeve for the blue dress. Creating a Tudor style sleeve in the way it would have been done in 1812 was the challenge. This sleeve went through three mock ups before making the final sleeves.

I had to decide to use an under sleeve, which was made in silk organza. This adds body without weight.The bands of blue taffeta were made and set aside. The trickiest part was the white silk. I had this lovely white habotai silk, which gathered up wonderfully. Too wonderfully. Deciding how full to make the puffs, how wide to cut the sleeve and how long, was what took time. To get the right amount of fullness as well as the right amount of puff between the bands couldn't be calculated, it was done by trial and error.

The end result was that the width of the sleeve rather than the length created or altered the effect. Like the mauve dress, assembling the sleeve by hand was easy. How authentic! Gathered by hand, pinned and set in place by hand. It all had to be tacked in place to keep the look, since I know no-one will have time to tweak folds and puffs.

If anyone has other suggestions, I'd love to have them for next time!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Grace Kelly exhibition in Toronto

Toronto International Film Festival scores a coup with a Grace Kelly exhibition

Grace Kelly's wedding dress, designed by Helen Rose and made by the wardrobe department of MGM. It has rose point lace, silk faille, seed pearls, and silk tulle.
A replica of Grace Kelly's wedding dress, on display in the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, which will be part of the TIFF exhibit.

Grace Kelly has been dead for almost three decades, but next fall she will be making a splash in Toronto, the Star has learned.

TIFF Bell Lightbox has secured the exclusive North American engagement of Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess, which will run from Nov. 4 to Jan. 22, 2012. An official announcement is expected this week.

The exhibit will feature rarely displayed gowns and artifacts from the palace in Monaco where she married Prince Rainier III in 1956. It includes a replica of her famous wedding dress, a gift from Hollywood studio MGM designed by costume diva Helen Rose.

The opening of the show will provide another chapter to what has become a year of royal wedding mania. Following the global hoopla over the marriage of William and Kate, Grace Kelly’s only son, Prince Albert II, ended his long bachelorhood at age 53 last weekend by exchanging vows with Princess Charlene, in the Monaco Palace where his parents were married 55 years earlier. For the first time since the 1982 death of Princess Grace at age 52 in a car crash on the Cote d’Azur, Monaco once more has a princess. Albert has reigned since the death of his father in 2005.

The Lightbox show is based on two recent shows that caused a stir across the Atlantic. The first was the Grimaldi Forum’s 2007 exhibition in Monaco called The Grace Kelly Years. A 2010 show — Grace Kelly: Style Icon — drew huge crowds to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Conspicuously missing from the V&A exhibit was the bride’s famous high-neck dress. It featured an antique Valenciennes rose point lace, silk taffeta and tulle, and the veil had thousands of seed pearls. The outfit took 35 craft artists in the MGM wardrobe department six weeks to make.

The legendary gown is owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which keeps it in storage. But TIFF has scored a coup by nabbing a replica made by the Monaco palace in 2007. As well, the Lightbox show will feature wedding photographs from the Philadelphia Museum.

In the Lightbox version of the show, famous outfits will be supplemented by screenings of Alfred Hitchcock movies starring Kelly and other icy blonds.

The exhibition will include her Van Cleef  Arpels tiara, the Oscar she won in 1955 for The Country Girl, letters from Hitchcock, telegrams from Prince Rainier, bits of childhood scrapbooks and school yearbooks. Most intriguing could be the home movies she made, shot on Super-8, showcasing friends and family.

As for that famous wedding dress, well, the original was given to the museum in Philadelphia, where Kelly grew up in a wealthy and socially prominent family rather like the one from which sprang Tracy Lord, the character Kelly played in High Society. Indeed, the 1956 Cole Porter musical (in which her co-stars were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong) was based on a popular 1930s play entitled The Philadelphia Story.

According to Kristina Haugland, a senior curator at the Philadelphia museum, the dress was on display for more than 20 years before it became clear it was extremely fragile and needed to be protected from excessive exposure. That’s why it is brought only for special occasions, notably a heavily attended exhibition in 2006 marking the 50th anniversary of the wedding.

But to get to the heart of the Grace Kelly magic, one must move beyond clothes and artifacts and watch her on the big screen. She made only 11 films and, in a way, her 1950s Hollywood career represented the only period of her life when she was free to be herself.

During her early years, by all accounts, she was restricted by the tight rules of high society in an aristocratic Philly family. And for the last quarter-century of her life, she had to play by the rules set for a European princess. Her husband made it illegal for movies starring Kelly to be shown in Monaco.

But when you see her win the hearts of James Stewart in Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, you will begin to understand why Kelly, with her unique blend of gorgeously cool style and concealed emotional hunger, had the power to seduce the entire world. Maybe that’s what the Prince was afraid of.


Monday, July 4, 2011