Following up on all those thoughts — and that mockup! — about flared-front 18th century stays, I 1) found more examples, and 2) made up my stays, and 3) wore them to the Northern California Pirate Festival where I performed with Bella Donna as the House of the Rising Sun!
San Francisco Bay Area people: you should know about a NEW event coming up May 2-3 in Vallejo! Carnevale Fantastico is a brand new Renaissance faire, but it’s not just any Renaissance faire. It’s specifically an ITALIAN event, with performers, theater, food, and more that will be more than your usual “renfaire”! Bella Donna Historical Performers will be performing, and I’m really excited about it!
Would you believe it, I sewed something! It was crazy around here! The Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild held a Game of Thrones event at Castello di Amorosa, a winery in the Napa valley. Now, I like Game of Thrones — I watch the show religiously, although I can tell that the books would drive me crazy. And I like the costumes, although I don’t love them. But when the event was announced and so many of my friends wanted to go, I decided to go too!
Remember this plan to make Mae West’s costume from I’m No Angel? Well here’s how it turned out!
Be afraid. Be very, VERY afraid. For I have decided that it’s time to perform at Dickens Fair, something I haven’t done for a number of years. And while previously I played scum, this time around I’m joining the Adventurers’ Club, who portray real historical people — the intelligentsia of Victorian England.
In all caps, because it’s taken me so long to write about it! Costume College happened, and it was tons of fun, as always. I got to hang out with old friends and meet new people, and teach some classes, and go to some classes, and flog the wig book!
First, though, I want to echo what everyone else has said. Although I had a blast hanging out with friends, it definitely felt like there was less interacting among individuals and groups. As with everyone else, it’s the usual things: you’re teaching, or running around, or out of class whenever everyone else is in class, or sick, or what-have-you. For me, I had the added layer of book stuff. I only sold and signed my books on Friday night, but it still meant that I could only make it to the social for about an hour, and couldn’t make the court dress meet-up, and then I was selling books for most of the night. And Sunday, I was in a limited class all day. So, I do think a part of it is just scheduling.
I also feel like as historical costume blogging has grown, so too has Costume College, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend most of the weekend in visual overload over how much Completely Frickin’ Amazing costumes everyone is wearing… to the point where I’m so overloaded that I probably don’t even tell you that how amazing your costume is, because there are SO MANY amazing costumes, and it just becomes this whirl. CoCo has always been a place to strut your stuff, and now that there are so many more of us, there are so many more costumes. I don’t know about you, but I feel like my conversations went something like, “Oh my god, I love this — SQUIRREL!”
Also, I’m really happy that so many people are blogging about costume. It means there’s so much fabulosity out there, and so much information. But, it used to be fewer of us, so there would be about 5 people who you’d stalk and say, “Hey! I know you! Online!” Now, there are SO many bloggers that I know a lot of us have a hard time keeping up, and captchas and spam make it hard to comment, so we’re probably interacting less online. Which then means, there are a gazillion people you might recognize from online, but at the same time you might not feel as close to them as when there were fewer. So, I now spend half of CoCo going “I think I know that person?” And it’s not til later, when I’m looking at pictures or whatever, that I realize “Hey, that was so&so!”
I’ve also given up on trying to take too many photos, since we’re all getting great formal pics from the official photographers. I like that it frees me up to just relax and socialize. But at the same time, it means I miss those opportunities to have a quick squee and pic that I used to; now I’m more likely to sit on the other side of the room and mutter, “Wow, that’s a seriously good dress” than run over.
So yeah. A bigger CoCo, more costumers, all of these are good things. But it does change things somewhat, and I know I for one miss being able to have longer, better chats. So, if we missed connecting, please know that it’s not you, it’s that I’m overwhelmed! I’m not sure whether there are obvious solutions. Some people have talked about reinstituting an LJ meet-up, but I don’t know if I even qualify for that anymore, since I’m hardly ever there!
I mean, just look at all of this pretty!
Okay, on to my CoCo report:
Thursday night I only made it to the pool party for a brief time. We drove down that day, and I was super blown, so there was a bit of chatting and hanging and then I hit the wall.
Friday morning I had to be up bright and early to teach a hairstyling demo. In the class I showed how to do one of the styles from my 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling book. I only gave myself two hours, which isn’t enough to do a hairstyle well when you’re in front of a bunch of people… and yeah, I actually did a really crappy job. But luckily those who I spoke with her happy to see the techniques, even if I didn’t fix and futz to make it all look pretty.
Later that day I went to Janea and Abby’s class on 18th century dressmaking terminology, which I loved because I’m a terminology geek. There are so many terms we use now to refer to 18th century dress/dressmaking that are totally not used in the era, and then there’s the whole French vs. English thing.
That evening, I wore my this-old-thing (to me) white caraco a la polonaise. I definitely felt the pressure to bring my A game in terms of wigs, but I didn’t want to wear my Kick Ass Wig both Friday & Saturday nights, so I whipped out a quickie 1780s style based on the Balloon. I got about an hour of socializing in before it was time to start hauling books down for my signing & sale. Jennifer Rosbrugh was also there signing her publications, and I felt very verklempt to be supported and celebrated in that way by Costume College.
Saturday was pretty flexible for me. I had one lecture class to teach (on 18th century hairstyles), nicely in the middle of the day, so I decided to make some effort and dress up. I wore my vampire bride costume, which was an easy one to throw on (and hey, one of the very few things I made last year!). I taught my class, I had some lunch… with the cast of Ab Fab, because my friends kick ass like that. Trystan was Edina, Sarah was Patsy, and Karen was Bubbles.
Oh, also that day, Merja wore the wig that I made for her as her reward for donating big during the book’s Indiegogo campaign. She picked the style, and I made it. She wore it with her STUNNING striped polonaise, and I think the striped bows that she added to the wig just really took it over the top.
Saturday night was the gala. I didn’t have time to make anything fabulous this year — I knew I wanted a kick ass wig, but beyond that, I just about killed myself to get the book done in time. So I banged out an 18th century sultana — a posing gown, based on Ottoman clothing but interpreted through European eyes, specifically inspired by this painting of Hester Thrale:
I bought a really pretty ivory and white silk sari on ebay and went to town. The top of it is pretty Ottoman, in fact, and I ended up hand sewing it in bits on the couch. I decided to pleat the skirt to get more fullness, and ended up machine sewing most of that because I was in a hurry. The sash is a bit of red silk organza with gold stripes from Renaissance Fabrics, and I was shocked to find that my last minute hunt for gold fringe was successful — at Beverly’s, of all places!
For the wig, I took down and washed out the wig I made for France. I completely restyled it, adding more hair and making a different frame. It’s not a literal version of one of the book wigs, but it uses the same techniques. I was inspired by this wig, with its silly dangling ringlets, from Gallerie des Modes (I think 1779?):
Meanwhile, Trystan had come up with the idea to do a book-themed costume, and Karen and I decided to join in. Both of them wore the wigs they modeled for the book, and we decided to put miniature books in our wigs, which I flogged my husband into making (ah, the joy of hot gluing the night before leaving for CoCo!). Trystan made us mini book jewelry (necklaces & earrings), and for her outfit, she even made a printed-on-silk stomacher with the table of contents, and paper roses made from print outs of the book pages.
This was my first time attending the gala dinner in a number of years, and I was glad I did, although a lot of YOU skipped it which made it harder to hang with you! But you guys. There was SO MUCH COSTUMEY GOODNESS.
Two empresses in Edwardian court dresses.
Sahrye as Madam Vastra — I had no idea that was her!
Fabulous 1830s — the dagging!
Beautiful bustle-y goodness.
Fabulous robes de style.
Merja. You’d hate her if she wasn’t so nice.
I am kind of obsessed with this late teens amazing-ness. It would never suit me, but hot DAMN.
And, unlike the rest of us laggers, Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Katherine kicked some serious ASS in their stunning, over the top, beautiful 18th century court gowns. All three are just drop dead WHOA.
And, my friends, that is just the tip of the iceberg on the AMAZING costumes that were worn all weekend. Every era was there. Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, the list goes ON. I would need a week to track down all of the amazing-ness and post it here, so instead I’ll just send you to the official photographer’s gallery.
Sunday, I had an all-day limited class with Candace Kling. I’ve passed up (just through sheer laziness) the chance to take workshops with her before, and now I am REALLY sorry I did. I was exhausted, but it didn’t matter. That woman knows her stuff!! We made some GORGEOUS ruched trims, and I got so much out of it. I’m really inspired to take more classes from her. She had all these amazing ways of making ruches, pleats, and gathers more interesting that I never would have thought of!
And so, that’s mostly it! It was a great time and over too soon.
Oh god, I’ll never catch up with stuff if I wait to do posts about each individual thing, so here, minus The Book, my life the last few (many?) months!
I went to a 1920s Circus Picnic, for which I turned a shitty polyester prom dress from ebay plus a bit of a sari into a circus costume inspired by a picture of my great-grandmother. I forced myself to do the worst sewing job ever on it, since it was such a throw-away costume, and I looked pregnant in it (note to self: stand up straight!), but I had fun!
I performed at Pirate Fest with Bella Donna (as the House of the Rising Sun — New Orleans tarts), for which I made a quick wig based on the Balloon style from The Book. Accessorized by a faaaabulous hat by Jenn.
And I prepped for, went to, and recovered from Costume College, but like everyone else, I’m waiting on professional photos for that post! I no longer bother to take good pics of myself, since I know the professionals can take such better ones. So yeah. More about that soon!
OH, and Frock Flicks is back. After years of my poking them, Trystan & Sarah have finally gotten excited about this again. We have a website. And a Facebook page. And a twitter. And will be recording a new podcast in the next week or two.