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15th century

15th century, costume in cinema

The White Queen – can we talk?

Have you seen the new BBC/Starz TV miniseries “The White Queen“?  If so, can we talk — about how bad the costumes and hair are?

This is an adaptation of some of Philippa Gregory’s books, and I’m sure they are just the most historically accurate things out there (I got halfway through the first book and then, as usual, got irritated with Gregory’s writing and lack of historical knowledge).  And yes, it’s yet another “We’re not trying to be slavishly historically accurate!” in terms of design/costumes/whatnot.  Fine.  Yawn.

First, let’s look at a few images of some of our key female characters:

Elizabeth Woodville via Wikimedia Commons

Elizabeth Woodville via Wikimedia Commons

Anne Neville via Wikimedia Commons

Margaret of Anjou via Wikimedia Commons

Now, let’s talk about the series costumes & hair:

Many of the female characters (here, Anne Neville -- also Elizabeth Woodville does this too) wear elaborate braids that look like they've been slept in for three weeks. Sadly I can't find a good picture -- this is the closest -- but they're frizzy with hair sticking out everywhere. Huh?

Jacquetta (Elizabeth Woodville's mom) has some pretty cool hair though!

Some of the dresses are reasonably pretty and elegant, like this one on Elizabeth Woodville (who is a dead ringer for a young Trinny of Trinny & Susannah).

But then Elizabeth Woodville will spend multiple episodes in something really boring like this. Okay yes, you're showing her in her relaxed clothes, but still -- YAWN.

Isabelle Neville's (left) wardrobe was clearly raided from some high school theater department.

Margaret Beaufort wears a lot of simple, high necked clothes -- okay, makes sense for someone who is really pious. But they're all suspiciously Star Trek in their cut. And one of the few times she wore something with a lower neck, I swear I saw a bra strap.

I don't know what Margaret of Anjou is wearing here, but I know I hate it.

And on a side note, I know next to nothing about medieval armor, but all of the leads wander around with this one shoulder in armor, one not thing going on. It doesn't seem very functional to me.


15th century, costume in cinema, Frock Flicks

Finally! New Frock Flicks Podcast!

It’s taken a very long time, and this time it’s MY fault — but there’s finally a new episode of the Frock Flicks costume movie podcast!

This time we invite Francis to join us as we watch the first two episodes of Showtime’s The Borgias (season 2 is premiering soon, so it’s sort of topical!).  Listen as we geek out on shoes and eyeglasses, discuss historical body ideals, and bemoan the shy guys!

Warning: Not for the easily offended, totally sober, or honestly, anyone under 21. This one finally went over the top & we gave it an “explicit” tag in iTunes for frequent discussion of male body parts. Give us a break, there weren’t a ton of costumes to look at. Just pope-y stuff, so we kinda went south fast.

Grab a cocktail & go here:

Or go here, click “View in iTunes,” & then click “Subscribe.”  Then you’ll get all our updates whenever you open iTunes & refresh your podstreams.

The time lag, for once, is my fault — I told Trystan I’d take over editing and uploading the podcasts, because I wanted to do more and get them posted quicker.  Well, when you hear Sarah inviting you all to the costume bloggers meetup at LAST year’s Costume College, you can know it was my lagger-y-ness to blame!

Let us know what you think!

15th century, 16th century

Illuminated Manuscripts on Wikimedia Commons

This could be old news to you, but maybe not!  I recently discovered that Wikimedia Commons has a specific category for illuminated manuscripts by century, which includes TONS of gorgeous manuscript illustrations from the 2nd through the 16th century — and these illustrations are a fabulous source for medieval costuming.

[Edited to add:  Might have been nice if I’d added the link to illuminated manuscripts by century in Wikimedia Commons!]

In particular, I am stunned by the gorgeousness of De Mulieribus Claris, which is from the late 15th or early 16th century.  Here’s a small sampling of images:

15th century, interesting reading

Well Hi There!

Work has been busy, plus I’ve been watching lots of shlocky 1940s-set tv shows/movies (Bomb Girls, Land Girls, The War Bride, etc.) so I’ve been on a modern/vintage sewing kick!

In the meantime, I recommend reading this article from Humanities Magazine about the backstory of the Illuminating Fashion exhibition & book.  I’d be interested in knowing what medieval costumers think of the book — does it provide a lot of new information?

15th century, 16th century, 17th century, 18th century, 18th century court dress, 19th century, 20th century, exhibitions

Another Digital Exhibition: Royal Danish Costume

Kongedragter is an online exhibition that features one outfit for each Danish king or queen, from Frederick II (1559-1588) to Margarethe II (1972-present).  Unfortunately, Margarethe’s is the only female outfit included, but still… if you’re into men’s costumes, there’s some really nice stuff in there!

If you’re like me and don’t speak Danish, click on the photo of a king/queen from the top right thumbnails. Wait a second and the clock will turn into an image of an ensemble, which you can then zoom (magnifying glass), rotate! (loop-y arrow), and get info about (“I”).

15th century, 16th century, 18th century, gfd, michelangelo, projects, travel

England Trip Report #2: What I Wore (and Made)

There was a mad rush of sewing to get ready for the England trip, naturally.

As previously posted, Michael’s doublet was nearing completion but he felt it was too tight.  I thought about piecing in a gusset in the CB, then realized that would just get wonky, so I literally took out the whole back and remade it.  Ugh!  I know I could have made him suffer, but I wanted him to be happy.  I really wanted to make him a hat, and bought the pattern and everything, but the timing was just too tight.  Maybe if he ever wears it again!

Final photos – and by popular request, a ruff (okay, some ruffled eyelet lace) for Sir Winston:

For me, the big project was a c. 1780 robe à la polonaise, which I took pictures of while I was making but totally neglected to do a dress diary… the reason for which will need to be another post! It’s made of red and white printed cotton (a duvet cover from Ikea), trimmed with red taffeta (which was supposedly silk when I bought it in the $7/yd silk taffeta garment district madness, but when Sarah burn tested her fabric, she reported it was not silk – bastards!), and yards of white organza ruffles.  I handsewed most of it, except I hemmed and gathered all the organza ruffles on the machine (hey, I’m not crazy!) except for the bottom ruffle on the petticoat, where the ruffling would show… and I ran out of time, so a lot of the sleeve was done on the machine.  I’m really pleased with it, especially the fit — I’m tired of always being the boobed wonder when I wear 18th c., so I made the neckline pretty cover-y — it might even be TOO narrow, but I’m not changing it now!  I do still need to add some braid to the back seams, but I can easily get that done before Costume College.  I’m thinking I’ll wear this to the Gala unless I get a wild hair to make something new… but that’s another post, too!  I promise to do a full write-up on the dress at some point, but again, more on this subject in another post.

I also remade my 1780s capote to have a poufier top (ie remade it in a couple of layers of silk organza), and retrimmed it as the green scheme made the outfit Christmas-y (I figured blue was complimentary without being matchy).  I used a vintage feather trim that I got at Costume College a few years back.  Finally, I wore the lace knitted mitts that I’ve been working on for a while – a totally modern pattern, unfortunately, as the only period patterns I could find were very butter churn-y and winter-y.

Finally, I did widen the neckline on the medieval gown — it was a rush job the night before we left, so I just put the dress on inside out, marked a wider neckline, cut some bias silk and finished it quickly.  I was worried it would stretch out or do something funky, but it seems to have worked!  I have a LOT of bust in it, but otherwise it turned out to be prettier than I’d thought and I had fun swanning about in the bluebells in it.

Oh, and I wore my green Venetian, but that’s very this-old-thing to me these days!