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18th century, exhibitions, research, travel

Costume Accessories Exhibition

First, thanks to everyone for your kind words about my riding habit and Brunswick!  I really liked them, and I’m happy that you liked them too.  (I mean, what if I had horrible taste?)  I’m still irritated about the giant bust wrinkle on the habit, but oh well!

So, now I want to post about the Costume Accessories exhibition (next post, the symposium)!

The exhibition was really cool.  Not huge, but big enough.  What I really liked was that precisely BECAUSE it was focused on accessories, it made me notice tiny details that normally I would miss because I’d be looking at overall gowns/outfits.  A lot of people have been posting photos from the exhibition, so search around on Flickr if you’re interested; here are some of my highlights:

(Note for those reading on the LJ feed — LJ drops my image captions, so you may want to link to the post on my site if you’re interested in reading the notes that go w/ the photos!)

These photos and more from the exhibition can be found on Flickr.

1760s Brunswick, 1778-9ish riding habit, 18th century, 18th century wigs, exhibitions, projects, travel

Back From the 18th Century

Phew!  With the first of what will probably be a few posts:

The Costume Accessories Symposium was faaabulous.  So many interesting research presentations, so many lovely people to meet.  Plus, chances to dress up and run around Colonial Williamsburg!

First, my outfits!  Everything came together relatively well.  I finished most of the habit shirt ruffles and cravat on the plane, although I didn’t have sleeve ruffles until day 2.

I had been planning to do cream bows on the Brunswick, but at the last minute came across some vintage blue ribbon in my stash, and had the genius idea to use that instead.  I was seriously not wanting to wear the Brunswick — I was worried I was going to look like a combination of Aunt Pittypat and a butterchurner.  Luckily, when I put it all together I actually quite liked it, and then when I put the hat on, I loved it.  Yay!

Friday night was an in-costume dinner at the King’s Arms, followed by a chamber music performance, organized by Barbee.  It was really lovely, as almost everyone was in costume, the food was good, and the music was gorgeous.  Both venues were only lit by candles — be still my beating heart!  And afterwards we had dessert at a local home.  I got to meet Abby (shout out:  I had no idea that wasn’t a wig!  We kept calling you “the girl with the fabulous wig,” guess we gotta revise that!) and talk rumps, and Gwendolyn and talk about her work at the Costume Design Center.  I wore my “this old thing” peach francaise.

Saturday was riding habit day.  I loved this outfit too, despite the ginormous wrinkle that developed at my bust point (WTF?).  I felt all sporting (in the 18th c. sense) and tailored, and it was fun to wear it with others in their habits(es) as well.  I wore the habit again for dinner on Monday night.

For some reason this picture makes me happy - I feel like an 18th c. woman on the Grand Tour, looking at antiquities!

I wore the same hat & wig with all of my outfits.  I really wanted to make one of the black hats with tons of feathers that I see in so many riding habit portraits; I was particularly lusting after Lady Worsley‘s hat.  Thanks to all of your good advice, I ended up getting the wool felt hat blank from JAS Townsend in the largest size they had, which as you can see isn’t large enough to really settle down on my wig as far as the hats in portraits, but it worked.  I did the most craptastic job shaping the brim — I couldn’t find anything in my house that was the right shape, so I used a series of bowls and just moved them around as I steamed the crap out of the hat.  Then I covered it in black feathers, some of which blew weird ways in the wind, but I finally figured out how to attach them so that by riding habit day, the hat was looking like what I wanted.

For the wig, I took apart one I had styled before.  I really wanted that particular style that you see around 1779-81 (example), which is somewhere between a pouf and a hedgehog.  I made a lower form than I normally do for a pouf, and ginormous curls.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the symposium and the exhibition!  In the meantime, you can see all of my photos on Flickr.

18th century, books, exhibitions

Threads of Feeling Online Exhibition

Many of you have read about the Threads of Feeling exhibition, which is made up of 18th century textile tokens that were left with abandoned babies at the London Foundling Hospital.  The Foundling Museum has just come out with a very nice online exhibition, with beautiful high resolution images of some of the textile scraps.  Beautiful, and really heartbreaking!

You can read more about the exhibition.  There’s also an exhibit catalog, although it’s listed as out of print on Amazon, and out of stock on  Not sure if it came and went, or if it’s just not really available yet!

17th century, 18th century, 19th century, exhibitions

Colonial Williamsburg Online Exhibit

Colonial Williamsburg has launched a cool online exhibit, “Historic Threads: Three Centuries of Clothing.”  Currently, they have formal garments and accessories up — coming soon:  fashionable, informal, work, and lifecycle clothing. There’s a REALLY nice zoom feature. The images are from their new exhibition, which I’m going to get to see (yay!), “Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe: 1600 to 1840,” as well as the 2002 exhibition, “The Language of Clothing” (18th- and 19-century clothing).

Coming soon at the same link will be, “New Threads: Reproduction Clothing.”  I’m guessing we’re going to get to see the work of Janea Whitacre (CW’s mantua maker), Mark Hutter (CW’s tailor), and more!

Thanks to Sewphisticate on LJ for the heads up!

18th century, exhibitions

18th C. Men’s Patterns from LACMA

Thanks to the GBACG list for the heads up — LACMA has put up some scaled patterns for some men’s 18th century garments that you can download for free.  The banyan in particular is really cool.  Loren/bauhausfrau mentioned on LJ that the curators said  they may be doing the woman’s 18th c. redingote (which I hope is the stripey one with big buttons that I can’t find a picture of online but that made me swoon when I saw it in the catalogue) – cross your fingers!

books, exhibitions

Fashioning Fashion Book & Events!

This is a transcript of me, last night, when my copy of Fashioning Fashion finally arrived:



In other words, if you’re lagger-y like me, and you haven’t bought it yet, GO. BUY. IT. NOW.  And then get ready to spend some quality alone time with it.  WHOA.  *fans self*  I mean, SERIOUSLY PEOPLE.  THIS IS SOME QUALITY COSTUME PORN.

And in related news… two events of interest related to the exhibition!

On Dec. 4, the Costume Society of America’s Western Region will be having an in-depth look at the exhibition, including presentations by the curators.  Registration deadline is Nov. 24 — more info here.

On Jan. 15, LACMA is hosting a one day symposium on the exhibition.  Speakers include the curator from the Kyoto Costume Institute (Akiko Fukai) and the costume curator from the Met’s Costume Institute (Andrew Bolton), along with LACMA’s costume curator, the two collectors who built the collection, and more.  Registration is free, but you have to call to reserve a ticket.  I am seriously considering flying down to LA just for the day to attend this.  I mean, the CURATOR FROM THE KCI IS GOING TO BE THERE.  More info here.

That is all!

16th century, 17th century, 18th century, 19th century, 20th century, books, exhibitions, research

Books to Pre-Order (Woot!)

There’s nothing like knowing that a Really Good costuming book is coming out.  Having FOUR to look forward to?  I may need a chaise lounge and a fan!

[Full disclosure – I’m an Amazon Associate, so the links to the books below take you to Amazon and will give me like $.02 (and support this site) if you buy from them.  If you’d prefer not to support this site, don’t buy from these links!]

First, there’s Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail, 1700 – 1915 (coming out Sept. 1, 2010).  This accompanies the Fashioning Fashion exhibition (Oct. 2, 2010 – April 3, 2011) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  LACMA recently acquired a HUGE collection of European costume from the 18th century through the early 20th century, and this exhibition will feature this new acquisition.  According to their website, “Highlights will include an eighteenth-century man’s vest intricately embroidered with powerful symbolic messages relevant to the French Revolution; an evening mantle with silk embroidery, glass beads, and ostrich feathers designed by French couturier Émile Pingat (active 1860-96); and spectacular three-piece suits and gowns worn at the royal courts of Europe.”  I’ve seen a sneak preview of just one of the 18th century dresses, and it is to DIE for.  Thanks to Kim for the heads up that at the same time as this exhibition, they will also be exhibiting a number of paintings and sculptures from big names like Boucher, Vigée-Lebrun, and Fragonard.  YAY!  Finally something SUPER exciting happening on my side of the country!

Then on Nov. 1, 2010, our friends the Victoria & Albert Museum will be releasing Underwear: Fashion in Detail and Toiles de Jouy: French Printed Cottons, 1760-1830.  The Underwear book is another in the Fashion in Detail series, and will highlight the V&A’s collection with incredibly detailed close-up shots.  According to the book description, they’ll be including garments “from rare 16th-century examples to Dior’s curvaceous New Look, to Calvin Klein’s notorious briefs.”  Toiles de Jouy will be of interest to 18th century costumers — I don’t know too much about the book, but since it’s coming from the V&A, it has to be good!

Finally, on April 1, 2011, the V&A will do it again with Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns: Book 1 (thanks to Catherine for the heads up!).  I’d heard a while ago that they were working on a book related to 17th century costumes — they’d taken down some pieces from exhibit for the book — but I’d forgotten about it until Catherine emailed me yesterday.  According to the book description, “This breathtakingly detailed book presents dress patterns, construction details, embroidery and making instructions for fifteen garments and accessories from a seventeenth-century woman’s wardrobe. Full step-by-step drawings of the construction sequence are given for each garment alongside photographs of the objects and the groundbreaking use of x-ray photography revealing the hidden elements of the clothes, the precise number of layers and the stitches used inside.”  I am SUPER excited about this, after making my Nell Gwyn dress (altho I’m also grumbly, because how helpful would this have been?).  Oh well, I’ll just have to make another 17th century gown!  I’m also excited about the “Book 1″ in the title — does this mean we can anticipate MORE 17th century costume books from the V&A?  Be still my beating heart!