Friday, March 26, 2010

The REAL Laurel Dress and its award-winning twin!

Before embarking on a journey through the real dress, here is a link to ours in its glory. So different! Just goes to show what a pencil sketch can do for ones interpretation of a gown.
Anyone out there who knows the Patterns of Fashion books by Janet Arnold will know that all the dresses are real, and in museums around the UK. The dress we call the Laurel Dress is in the Museum of London  but there are no photographs of it online at this time. Not being one to be put off however, I emailed and the wonderful curator of things frocky responded with an amazing story of a student called Jordan Bentley, who had recreated the laurel dress for the UK Costume Society's "Patterns of Fashion Award". She was highly commended in 2008 and has gone on to work as a free lance costumier.
While researching her dress, Jordan was allowed to photograph the original and she has VERY kindly allowed us to put the photos on this blog, as well as a few of her reproduction.

Jordan Bentley's exquisite reproduction of Lady Maud Warrender's "laurel dress"

Stunning from the back too!
Look at that detail, it's absolutely beautiful
The original dress, back view.The original dress, front
Original, bodice and sash front detail shot. The ruching in the bodice just makes me want to cry, it's so delicate!
Overskirt detail shot. I was amazed to see that the sequins are sewn on in an even pattern - in the drawing they looked quite random.
Sash end detail. The contrast is all down to sparkle isn't it.Smaller sash end. Notice how the end is not truly rounded. And the long leaf-shaped sequins, beautiful.
Seeing the inside of the bodice like this shows just how close Jordan's dress is to the original. And how delicate this 100 year old dress is today. So precious too!
I don't even know which bit this is but again, so delicate!
The maker's name "Madame Hayward" and address in Bond Street. I wonder what the fittings were like - did they make creative decisions on the go like we sometimes do, or was the dress completely designed in a sketch and came out exactly as she intended?

Thank you Hilary and Jordan for your time and experience and for allowing us to share these precious gowns - the original and the reproduction.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Progress on the laurel gown at both ends!

Well, The Dreamstress is getting along nicely on her construction of the laurel gown, and I am half way through the leaves on the overskirt.
Last night after a bit of emailing and research, I received some photos of the original dress which is in the Museum of London, and if we get the blessing of the photographer we will post some of them. It's such a privilege to see these photos, which add a whole new dimension to Arnold's drawings. Thank you to Hilary and Jordan for helping us out with our project like this!
As for me, I'll be posting some progress photos soon - I'm looking forward to doing the edgings, a change from leaves, leaves and more leaves! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Norman conquests

Shawn Ogg (Chris Church) and Magrat (Adele Wheeley) from Elmwood's production of Lords and Ladies (adapted from Terry Pratchett's novel) that I directed and costumed in 2005.
Well now I have been all quiet on account of being very busy, and I now have children to entertain and educate for a week which is very cool! Master 13 is joining two friends to be Norman soldiers at some school thing and tomorrow we are going to find fabric to make chain mail vests. In the photo above, I used a bobbly black knit and sprayed it silver. It works for a given value of 'works'. (Actually I'm more proud of Magrat's Queen Ynci armour, made from nasty vinyl, a long line bra from the op shop and lots of fat piping rope. We lived with the sprayed silhouettes of that tab skirt on our laundry floor for years!)
Today we visited the Weta Cave, which is Weta workshop's shop and museum, and saw and handled their special chain mail. It's so very, very cool and a looong way from knitted string or my bobbly knit version. For one brief moment I wanted to work there more than anything in the world! It passed... :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

...and Everybody hurts....some time

Oh REM, you know don't you!
Some time last week while sitting on the floor attaching gold leaves, I aggravated that spot in my back that loves me not. It turned out to be about the exact same spot that gets used for just about every single belly dancing move known to man and woman. So, I winced my way through about three quarters of my originally intended dance activities and it's a very unhappy back.
Oh to be an a snail. If I were a snail, my shell would be full of sewing supplies!

Monday, March 1, 2010

It's Autumn all right!

Apparently 1 March is the first day of Autumn (Fall) in NZ although summer usually comes late and hangs around til the end of April. Anyway, it's definitely here chez C, as I laboriously cut out over 300 gold net leaves for the Laurel Dress's skirt!