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18th Century Hairdressing Book, 18th century wigs, Costume College, events, publications, teaching


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.

(C) Toni Wilhelm Tumbusch

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.

(C) Laurie Tavan

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.

Photo by Andrew Shotwell

What happens when you leave your roomies alone.

Bubbles takes notes.

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.

Merja - she made the dress, I made the wig.

Merja - she made the dress, I made the wig.

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:

Hester Thrale by Joshua Reynolds | Wikimedia Commons

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?):

Gallerie des Modes | Boston MFA

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.

Photo by Andrew Shotwell

Photo by Andrew Shotwell

Photo by Andrew Shotwell

Photo by Andrew Shotwell

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.

Loren & Sarah both did gold Marie-Antoinette-inspired 18th century outfits. Leia looked like 18th century Snow White in her stunning francaise (and wig she made based on The Book). Photo by Andrew Shotwell.

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.

18th century, 18th century wigs, teaching

SF Bay Area people: 18th Century Hair Lecture on 6/29

I’ll be giving a lecture sponsored by the Greater Bay Area Costumers Guild on 18th century hair on Sunday, June 29 in Alameda (San Francisco east bay). The lecture will be part stylistic history — different styles for women’s & men’s hair and wigs from 1700-1799 — and part social history (why’s & how’s). This will be a great opportunity to get a preview from The Book!

The cost is $5 for GBACG members, and $7 for non-members — and you do have to purchase a ticket in advance.

18th Century Hair Lecture

Sunday, June 29, 2014
Noon – 2:00 pm
Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave, Alameda, CA

Sign up here!

Costume College, events, teaching

Costume College Teaching Thoughts

I’m trying to decide what to offer to teach at Costume College this year.  Here’s a bunch of ideas — I’d love to hear feedback on what sounds interesting!  Some ideas are fleshed out, some are still rudimentary…

Social History of Hair in England, 1770s-1820s

The changes in English hairstyles from the Georgian to the Regency will be traced, focusing on their social, cultural, and political context. From women’s gigantic “poufs” and men’s wigs of the late 18th century, through the “natural” and classical styles of the Regency, hairstyles underwent significant stylistic changes. These represented shifts in politics and society and served as a locus for debate around issues of gender, class, and politics.

18th Century Court Dress

The origins and developments of women’s formal court dress in France and England from the late 17th century through the early 19th century.

18th Century Dress Variations

What’s the differences (and similarities!) between a mantua, robe a la francaise, and a robe a l’anglaise?  How did those three main 18th century dress styles change over time?  For that matter, what’s a Brunswick, polonaise, sultane, or levite? Come geek out over 18th century dress! We’ll look at their origins in the late 17th century, trace the major styles throughout the century, and discuss as many of the weird variations that we can fit in!  This class will make far more sense to you if you have a basic idea of 18th century women’s costume, as we’ll be tracing individual styles over time, rather than going through a chronological rundown.

Hand Sewing Some Basic Garment

I keep thinking of doing some half/all day workshop where we hand sew some small basic garment (a partlet would work really well) and in the process learn the basic handsewing stitches and treatments… but I don’t know if this is too basic!

18th Century Patches (or Cosmetics?)

I want to do more research into 18th c. beauty patches, but I don’t know if there’s enough to make a full class, so maybe as part of a discussion of cosmetics?

18th century, 18th century wigs, 19th century, research, teaching

JASNA NorCal Lecture by Me, Plus Champagne!

I’m vaguely organized enough to tell you that I’m giving a lecture on hairstyles of the Georgian & Regency eras on Dec. 10 in San Francisco, for the Northern California chapter of JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America).

My talk will be:

“As Fashionable and Deceiving as Ever”: English Hairstyles in the Late Georgian and Regency Eras

The changes in fashion from the Georgian to the Regency will be traced, focusing on a changing hairstyles worn in England, and their social, cultural, and political context. From women’s gigantic “poufs” and men’s wigs of the late 18th century, through the “natural” and classical styles of the Regency, hairstyles underwent significant stylistic changes. These styles both represented the changes in politics and society and served as a locus for debate around issues of gender, class, and politics. This talk will trace the fashions in hairstyles from the late 18th century through the Regency Era, and analyze their perceived meaning and the debates around them.

There will also be other lectures, readings, brunch and high tea!  If you’re interested in attending, the deadline to register is this Friday. Read more about it, and download the registration flyer.

Costume College, events, teaching

Costume College Prep

I think I’m going to take it easy this year at CoCo — I’m bringing Nell Gywn for the gala, but I think that’s it for big costumes. Otherwise, I think I’ll be in random vintage-y/comfy bits. I’ve been contemplating bringing my turque for the class I’m teaching on this, but then I started to list all the components I’d need (plus the fact that my hedgehog is in desperate need of restyling) and I started to feel overwhelmed… On both Saturday and Sunday I’m teaching classes where I need to be able to move and/or get grubby, so costumes are out those days. And for Friday night, I’ve got a last minute secret project… but more on that at/after!

I’ve been working LIKE A MADWOMAN on my classes… and I still have more to prep. Remind me why I do this? I wrote out a shopping list today and am trying to stick to the idea of getting supplies to fill out projects that I already have fabric for, but it’s amazing how much you need once you start to list it all out. Luckily I’ve got a 3 day weekend ahead of me, so hopefully? I’ll be able to get it all done by Sunday, and then have Mon. & Weds. evenings to pack!

Costume College, events, teaching

Costume College classes

Since everyone else is posting about them… just got my confirmation on the classes I’ll be teaching this year at Costume College. I’m super excited that it’s one per day, which means no day will be particularly stressful! Yay! I’ll be doing: “Turkish Influence on 18th Century Fashion & the Zone Bodice” (unlimited, Friday), “Draping the 18th Century Robe à la Française” (limited, Saturday), “1770s Big Hair – How to Style a Wig into a ‘Pouf'” (limited, Sunday). It’s all 18th c., all the time around here, kids!

Costume College, teaching

Costume College Report & Pictures

Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I’m not sure I can adequately write enough to properly describe this weekend, but I’ll try! As previously reported, we (Sarah, Trystan, and me) drove down early Thursday and made it to the Garment District at 3pm with a perfect amount of time to shop (there was actually some oversleeping and traffic trauma, so we were worried we weren’t going to make it). We were focused shoppers, and I quickly found the fabric that I was looking for, plus some that was looking for me. The court dress fabric is just stunning – I’ll take some pics this afternoon of all my purchases and post them.

Thursday night was the LiveJournal meetup. It was fun to see everyone and a mellow evening. Friday was classes – in the morning I took “Historical Influences in Fashion,” which was fun as this is something I’ve always noticed (for example, 1840s being so heavily styled on 1660s). Had some down time in the middle of the day, so I did some hanging out and chatting in the cafe with many LJ friends and talked to those who wandered by. In the afternoon, I took a class on fairy wings that was very inspirational, although less involved than I’d expected. I did wear my 18th c. tart costume altho took no pictures!

Friday night was the GBACG meetup followed by the pirate and Pretty Pretty Princess parties in the Hospitality Suite. I wore my black francaise and REALLY BIG WIG, and after feeling like the dress looked kind of blah on the mannequin in the CC26 exhibit, I was worried I’d feel blah about the whole thing. Instead, it looked FABULOUS on if I do say so myself, especially with the wig that turned out just amazing (don’t worry, I took lots of pics to post a tutorial on the wig, and I’m going to offer to do a demo next year at College). Had a ton of fun that night running around, having pink drinks and being ridiculously silly and inappropriate with all my friends – we ended up in Diana’s room at the end of the night, dancing on the bed and singing.

Saturday was more classes. Sadly, I overslept and missed Trystan’s class on stripes (I’m really hoping she’ll do it again?), went to our panel on the Eugenie project which was good but needed more time (basically, we talked about what we made and the experience of a group project and being in the masquerade). I wore my what-was-a-1780s-jacket, which became a 1740s jacket (I of course had a last minute yen to wear something totally new, and was inspired to finish that project up – yes, will update the dress diary asap). There was a class cancellation a few days before College, so I volunteered to teach my 18th c. printed cottons class in the afternoon. I wasn’t sure if it went so well as I taught it – it’s always so hard to tell! Especially as I’m really NOT a textiles expert so much as a costume expert, so while this is a topic I’ve geeked out on, I don’t know EVERY in and out.

Saturday night was the gala. I felt like I’d blown my costume wad on Friday night and wished I could have switched so that I wore the black francaise to the gala (as evidenced by my total lack of pictures of the Eugenie dress), but it was also fun to wear the Eugenie dresses with most everyone from the group. As always there were tons of amazing costumes there and I was really impressed by so many. Had lots of fun stalking costumes to take pictures, and dancing and running around with my friends. Ended up going to bed relatively early (11:30ish? shocking!) as I did get a bit grumpy at the end of the night.

Sunday was yet more classes. I wanted to be comfy so went for a repro 1940s dress and sandals. Caught the end of Victorian Ladies Evening Gowns which had lots of nice eye candy, then taught my 16th c. Venetian women’s costume class. Later that afternoon, I taught my 18th c. hair & makeup demo, which was really fun – I’m so into hair/makeup as it so ties the costume together, and I’m just SO into 18th c. right now. The people in the class were fun and had great questions/suggestions (I was extremely flattered that Tara Maginnis of the Costumer’s Manifesto took my class!), and the demos went really well (you can see the results of the 1760s hair/makeup in my pictures).

Sunday night we meant to get out of the hotel to eat, but realized with such a big group it’d work better just to stay in the hotel. I was glad we did, as it meant more time for running around and socializing in the evening – the best part of which was when we ended up in Tara’s room, where she had Marie Antoinette playing on her projector against the wall – got to alternately laugh about ridiculous things and then geek out about the costumes in MA. And then we drove home Monday!

Now my mind is ABSOLUTELY WHIRRING with about 5,000 costumes, all of which I need to make RIGHT NOW… However, I need to stay focused on my new Venetian gown. Gah! I also already know what I want to teach next year, and my mind is whirring with class plans.

So here you are: pictures! And one video: What REALLY happens at Costume College…