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.