Sunday, 17 February 2008

A Portmanteau Gown.....

For a certain part she's playing, Sue needed to look 'outrageous and over the top '.
The discussion began with Sue saying "Well, there's that super purple one in the V&A publication , 19th Century Fashion in Detail" and Gini replied "Yes. And then of course, there's that fabulous magenta pink ensemble by Madame Vignon, 1870".

And so the dye was cast. Much "Oh Yes!" and "we could do this and that" later, a design was agreed on. Certain details from the original were kept, other details were added in [as if it wasn't OTT enough to begin with!].

Over 130 hours in production, including over 83 feet of scalloping and 80 feet of 'box' pleating! The materials used were fushia pink silk taffeta, black taffeta, fushia pink crepe backed satin and black chantilly lace. Each part of the outfit is lined with white twilled silk.

It has now been collected along with its' rather weighty technical instruction manual -'Fit tab A into slit B' etc!
Why? She also needed to be able to convert her outfit to fit any date from 1860 - 1900. And to be able to customise it to wear it for any time of day , from morning, to promenading, afternoon tea and ball gown. A tall order and not quite possible, given the evolving shapes through that period, but we managed to satisfy most by:-

* creating a skirt that can be worn over an 1860's crinoline looking fairly plain, worn with the day bodice
* Add in the lace overskirt, change to the evening bodice and it becomes full evening gown.
* Change the crinoline for a 'bustle' petticoat, pull up the hidden drawstrings within and it changes to 1880.
* Add the scallop frilled apron and tailed bustle pad it becomes a day dress
* Release draw strings and it develops a 'train'
* Change the bustle to a frilled 1890's petticoat, let out the drawstring, pull in the back ties underneath and it becomes 1890 evening gown.
* There are many more permutations - discussions are already in hand as to the adding of other bodices and accessories for 'other looks'!

We normally call this a portmanteau gown, but with the sheer amount of frills & 'Frockage' (Sues' word), I suspect it will take a couple of suitcases...........

These photos were taken at a 'try-on' so no wig, no tiara and the wrong corset, but I'll replace them soon as hopefully, we're getting proper pics done next week.