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20th century

20th century, interesting reading

Free research articles on WWI dress history

To commemorate 100 years since World War I, Maney Publishing has 100 research articles available for free for to read through the month of August. Here are the articles related to dress history:

20th century, costume in cinema

TV Review: Bletchley Circle

Starring Anna Maxwell Martin and Rachael Stirling.  Costumes designed by Anna Robbins.

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I’m so behind on costume TV/movie reviews, that I’m going to filter it down to just those that I really have something to say about!

This ITV miniseries was really great, from the script/story to the acting to the costume design.  Anna Maxwell Martin (who you may know from Becoming Jane or Bleak House) is a stunningly talented actress — one of those you should pay to watch read the phone book.  She stars with three others (including Rachael Stirling from Tipping the Velvet) as four women who worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park (the center of the British codebreaking effort) during World War II.  Now the war is past, and they are all trying (and frequently failing) to settle into a “normal” life — harder to do, because they aren’t allowed to talk about their war work.  Martin plays Susan, who is following a series of murders being publicized in the newspapers, and who recognizes a pattern that the police aren’t seeming to catch.  She gathers her former co-workers and they set about trying to solve the murders, once their attempts to notify authorities are disregarded.

The story is a great mystery that will have you in suspense the whole time, and that’s layered with the interesting backstories of the war codebreaking, plus the difficulties the very different characters face as they try to navigate life, plus the general sexism of an era in which the idea of women being brilliant was laughable.

The costumes are VERY well done, showing a nice range of early 1950s wear, with differences among the characters showing through their clothes.  No fall-over-yourself ballgowns or anything, but fabulous daily wear done RIGHT.

It was recently announced that it was renewed for a second season, which I’m very much looking forward to!

My review:  5 (out of 5)

If you like this era, you might want to check out my other 20th century costume movie reviews. For more 1940s-50s done right, I recommend Bride Flight (2008), Enigma (2001), Glorious 39 (2009), and Hope & Glory (1987).

16th century, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, 20th century, interesting reading

History of Patches & Regency Court Costume

Two random links of interest!

Madame Isis has posted a fabulous write-up on the history of the beauty patch covering the 16th to the 20th centuries on her historical toilette blog.

Reading Natalie Garbett’s post on on studying and producing historical costume referred me to the free Chateau de Malmaison (the former home of Empress Josephine) costume app, which has some stunning images of Regency court costume.  Did I mention it’s free?

20th century, costume in cinema

TV Review: Bomb Girls (2012 – present)

Starring Meg Tilly, Jodi Balfour, and Charlotte Hegele.  Costumes designed by Joanne Hansen.

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This is a Canadian TV series (set in Toronto, I believe?) about various women who work at a munitions factory during World War II… and it is complete soap opera, and I love it!  The lead character is Gladys, daughter of a wealthy family who wants to get involved in the war effort and rebel against her parents, so she gets a job at the factory.  There she meets many working class women, from Lorna (the older supervisor with a difficult home life, played by Meg Tilly) to Vera (the flightly girl who faces a big challenge) to Betty — the strong independent woman, who falls for sheltered Kate, running away from an abusive family.  The stories follow them into the factory and out as the war complicates their lives, does a beautiful job showing the many opportunities and challenges that the war caused for women, and has some excellently soap opera-esque storylines to keep you hooked.

Best of all, the costume designer did a BRILLIANT job.  Everything from the factory outfits to the street and dress-up wear, hair, makeup, etc. is appropriate to the period.  In particular, they either have a stock of vintage rayon prints or a source for making stunning reproductions, because the women wear dress after dress that makes you go, “WHOA, that is SUCH a 1940’s print!”

My review:  5 (out of 5)

20th century, research

Help Me Date Some Photos!

Late 19th/early 20th century is not my absolute forte, so I wonder if they are someone else’s!  I have some older family photos that I’d love help dating.  None of them have enough clues for me to figure them out on my own.

Mary Ridyard Daniels, born 1866, died after 1920. William Daniels, born 1850, died 1913.
Both were born and lived in England. They married in 1884.

Here’s where it gets tricky, because the rest are German/English circus performers

Simon Levy Blumenfeld, born 1828 in Germany, moved to England in the 1880s, died there in 1911. Wilhelmina Constance Blennow, born 1841 in Germany, moved to England in the 1880s, died there in 1915. The couple married about 1858. Performed throughout Western Europe.

Baptist Blumenfeld, born 1868 in Germany, died 1943 in New York. Performed throughout Western Europe and the United States.

Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld, born 1884 in England, died 1944 in New York. Baptist's wife -- they married in 1910, she didn't start performing until after their marriage. Retired from performing in the 1920s.

Another shot of Gertrude.

The Six Salores: 1. Amy (aka Ruby) Simpson Blumenfeld (1886 England - 1963 US), wife of Paul Blumenfeld. 2. William Blumenfeld (1876 Germany - 1963 US). 3. Beatrice Daniels Blumenfeld (1889 England - 1983 US), wife of William. 4. Paul Blumenfeld (1874 Germany - 1963 US). 5. Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld. 6. Baptist Blumenfeld. All three men were brothers; Beatrice and Gertrude were sisters. The act performed in England and the US from about 1910 through the 1920s.

Top row: Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld, Beatrice Daniels Blumenfeld. In swing: Paul Blumenfeld. Laying across Paul: Baptist Blumenfeld. Hanging from Paul: William Blumenfeld. Again, must be between 1910 and the 1920s.

Can you spot any clues?

19th century, 20th century, research

Powerhouse Museum Electronic Swatchbook

Thanks to Fran on the GBACGCostumers Yahoo group, I’ve discovered the Powerhouse Museum’s Electronic Swatchbook.  Swatchbooks were designed so that fabric manufacturers, agents and merchants could show samples of their fabrics.  The museum has scanned several from their collection from the 1830s through the 1920s.  What’s cool is you can not only browse by year but also by color.  The swatches themselves are scanned in high res and you can zoom in really closely.

A great resource for dating fabrics and identifying good reproductions!