Saturday, December 24, 2011

Old Costume: Labyrinth Ballgown

First off, if you haven't seen the movie Labyrinth, go watch it.  It's awesome: like David Bowie, little Jennifer Connelly, and Jim Henson puppets awesome.  Also, it is hilariously bad.

One of the most memorable scenes is a ball/dream sequence/drug-induced hallucination.  It's got some very fun fantasy ballgowns, here's some screenshots I took of the dress I semi-recreated:

I made this dress for Costume College's Gala, but I've been delaying photographing (code for: making my boyfriend photograph) this costume because I couldn't find a hairstyle that worked with it.  Today I had a Brigitte Bardot-inspire hairdo, and that actually seemed to work; so I here present the Green Labyrinth Ballgown.

The dress is made entirely of silk taffeta and is based on the Truly Victorian Romantic Era Dress pattern with some bodice alterations and the evening 'beret' sleeves - except I didn't add the tulle to keep them floppy.  I also ignored the the lower sleeves because I already couldn't really move my arms and the actress looks very inconvenienced by her sleeves.  I also shorted the neckline ruffle so it would look better with my curvier figure.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Seductive Shoe

First off, yesterday was my 20th birthday.  Now I have to be a real person and not a crazy teenager (in my mind).  And I wanted to share one of the books that I got, The Seductive Shoe: Four Centuries of Fashion Footwear, which is completely awesome.

I had never heard of this before (but maybe I'm just not reading enough costuming blogs - you can never read too many!)  I haven't had the chance to read much of the text yet, but the pictures are completely drool-worthy.  I've been using this book to get inspiration for the Pemberlies!

English olive leather shoes with gold-stamped design and yellow silk tassels, c. 1800-1810

English brown and yellow kid shoes, c. 1792

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Corset Rant

I feel like corsets are given a really bad rap by a lot of people today. They are portrayed as painful devices inspired by sexism that crushed women's organs and caused them to faint. I'm getting really sick of this.

This drawing - which is really more of a caricature - is not helping.
Dangerous tight-lacing definitely did occur, especially after corset-makers started using steel grommets for the eyelets in the 1820's, but I cannot believe that half of society would put themselves through daily pain for centuries.

Think about it: nowadays, some people are very fashion conscious and body conscious; they make their thighs and belly smaller through plastic surgery; they buy expensive designer bras to push their breasts into unnatural positions - but this is not the norm. Most people just want to look nice and feel comfortable.
Scarlett O'Hara may have been upset that she couldn't get her waist back down to 18 1/2 inches, but I don't think Melanie would have been bothered by that!

It seems that in all this anti-corsetism, people have forgotten that the bra has only been around for about 100 years.  Before the bra, the corset was pretty much the only support garment available (unless you go all the way back to the Gothic Fitted Dress).  For women with larger cup sizes it can be uncomfortable to go with any support, especially during menstruation, pregnancy, and nursing, and wearing a corset is preferable to wearing no support garment at all.

Of course a corset is uncomfortable at first, so is wearing a bra for the first time or walking around in a new pair of shoes.  I wore my 1880's corset all day at Costume College and felt fine, and the historical interpreters in Colonial Williamsburg that I have talked to - who lace themselves up everyday - are able to work a loom and sheer sheep without a hitch (in fact, the sheep-shearing lady said that she needed a corset to protect her torso from errant ovine kicks!)

Women have fought for their right to vote and run countries, without constantly fainting and calling for their smelling salts, all while wearing corsets.

Friday, November 25, 2011


(I hope I pluralized that correctly...) The American Duchess is having a pre-sale on her new shoes:

The "Pemberley" Regency shoes are closely based on extant footwear from the 1790s through 1810. The smooth, dyable, hand-sewn leather upper is designed to be lovely enough formal occasions, and durable enough for walking in the countryside. Particular attention was paid to the point of the toe, as well as the other hallmarks of Regency historical footwear, with the main goals being both historical accuracy and all-day comfort.

I'm planning to get some to go with my 1790's morning dress, but they look perfectly appropriate for modern formal wear. And my fragile feet will very much appreciate the low heel.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Evidence for Global Warming: Women's Undergarments

You've surely noticed a trend in 20th century women's underclothes:







Obviously it's getting warmer around here...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not a costume...

...instead, a nephew!

Azad Ahluwalia Gohn, born Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Downton Fever

I'm finally catching up season 2 of Downton Abbey now that a friend has directed me to website that streams it (I won't give away my sources here, but if you want to know, feel free to send me a message on facebook). In fact, I decided to do this blog post because I used up my 72 minutes of streaming and I have to be patient for an hour - I am not good at that.

I'm very excited that season 2 is set two years after the end of season 1, as WWI is one of my (many) favorite costume eras. I feel like it's often overlooked as it was just a few short years occuring between the famous Edwardian Period and the Roaring Twenties. The Lavinia Swire has worn some of my favorite gowns, with the waistline dropped back to the natural waistline from the early teens and fuller skirts - the Crawley sisters still seem to be wearing the slimmer late Edwardian styles. Unfortunately, I could find any images of these online, but here are a couple similar styles from the pinterest boards:

c. 1915 dress

c. 1915 dress, Cincinnati Art Museum

Man, that's gorgeous. So, have you caught Downton fever? If you have, is the second season living up to your expectations? (I know that this is opening Pandora's Box, but I must ask) Are you on Team Mary or Team Edith? I have the less popular stance of pro-Edith.

In unrelated news, my sister-in-law is currently giving birth, so this blog will feature some baby pictures soon!

UPDATE: Here's an email from my brother: "Azad Ahluwalia Gohn was born at 2:35am on Saturday, 7 pounds 11 ounces, 20-3/4" long. Mom and baby are both healthy and doing well, and mom and dad are endlessly happy. Photos to come in a few days." YAY!!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Funny Face

If you ever need some fifties fashion inspiration, may I recommend "Funny Face."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Les Poupees des Modes

Here's an interesting tidbit of information from Caroline Weber's "Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution":

"To showcase their wares, the fashion purveyors often relied on jointed wooden or plaster poupees des modes, or "fashion dolls" - precursors to both the store mannequin and the runway model - outfitted in doll-sized versions of the latest Parisian styles. Commonly known as Pandoras ("little Pandora" modeled morning and informal garb, while "big Pandora" was draped in ceremonial and evening wear).... According to historian Daniel Roache, 'in times of war, the poupees enjoyed diplomatic immunity and were even given cavalry escorts to ensure their safe arrival.'"

NB: There is an acute accent on the first "e" in "poupee" (I lack the techincal know-how to get blogger to do this for me.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gloves part 6

I've finally managed to get my act together and retake the pictures of the last pairs of the gloves that I lost previously. At least one of these pairs belonged to my mother before she was married (the ones with K. Krafft written on the inside). There is another pair with just "Gohn" written on the inside, which could belong to my mother after she was married, but she was only married in 1988 (and the 80's and 90's are not known for glove-wearing), and I believe the gloves are too small for my mom's hands, so they're probably my paternal grandmother's, Lucille Gohn (aka "Mammaw").

This knit pair definitely belonged to my mother.

For embellishment the seams from the outside of the index finger and pinkie continue down the length of the glove.

There is a seam in each gusset with the allowances turned in, while the allowances of the gussets are turned out.

You guys know what to expect now; this glove is pretty basic.

Detail of the scalloping

This knit pair probably belonged to my paternal grandmother.

It seems to have gotton pretty dirty on the left hand.

It looks like the original seam in the gussets ripped and was later mended by hand.

I think that this pair is so cute with its embroidery and scalloped edge.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Gloves postponed...but some other exciting things instead!

While photographing the last of the vintage glove collection I discovered that some of them had the name "K. Krafft" written inside, meaning that they belonged to my very own mama! (Or possibly my aunt-by-marriage - there are many Kathys in my family, but since they were in the house where my mom lives, I think it's safe to assume that they're mom's gloves.)

Then I uploaded the photos to my computer, erased them from my camera and rearranged my photo folders because it was all a little crazy. Unfortunately, in this suffle I managed to lose the pictures I had just taken, so I'll have to retake them. To make up for this, I have a) an announcement and b) other pictures

Announcement: inspired by Beth of V is for Vintage, I got a Pinterest account!

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Right now I've got boards on every decade from 1770s through 1950s (unfortunately the early 19th century is still a bit skimpy) and a couple of theme boards.

Alternate pictures: To satisfy your photo lust, here are some of the photos (mostly featuring clothing) that I took in Japan last January.

Some posters for the Bunraku (puppet) theater in Osaka:

An adorable little girl in a kimono on the island of Miyajima:

Miyajima is also the home to small deer who will eat just about anything (a paper box here):

A statue of a conductor a Bugaku orchestra:

A lovely dusting of snow on the mountains by Kyoto:

An example of "house slippers" (in Japan all outdoor shoes are left just inside the door and replaced with these):

One of the lovely kimono that Jonni (who kindly let my mother and I stay with him) had acquired during his time in the suburbs of Kyoto. This one is embroidered, although there are several methods for decorating kimono:

Koto players and a flower arranger at Gion Corner, Kyoto:

A real Bugaku conductor:

Two adorable maiko (geisha in training):

A promo poster for a Kabuki play (those are all men):

The mascot of the Kyoto Prefecture, an aristocratic silk worm larva, or as I like to call him, my new best friend:

Some cosplayers in Kobe:

January 15th is "Coming of Age Day" when all the people are who turning 20 that year (including me!) officially become adults. Most people celebrate by dressing up and going to Shinto shrines. I didn't get many photos because I felt a bit creepy taking pictures of random people:

Mama and I did get to a Kabuki (which was possibly the best thing ever - let me just say one of the characters is an Evil Flying Earth Spider Courtesan). I obviously couldn't take photos of the performance, so here is the poster:

Some amazing Chinese acrobats in Ueno Park, Tokyo:

Some Kabuki costumes in a museum:

And now the grand finale: a Kimono Fashion Show at a textile museum/factory in Kyoto (where I could oggle kimono and not feel creepy at all!)