I have wanted to make this dress FOREVER. Seriously. Ever since I saw it in Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe. I think I have a black & white thing, plus I love the jacket, the embroidery… the only thing I DON’T like is the snood. It’s too “Hi I bought a snood at renfaire!” So I think the hairstyle/hat will go. But otherwise!
The “maja” was a term used in late 18th and 19th century Madrid for a particular group of people: the majo/maja, who were lower class artistic people who spoke “pure” Castilian and wore elaborate outfits. Both women’s and men’s costumes were distinguished by jackets worn open, and were usually in black. The upper classes appropriated their dress as a means of being anti-French (the French being the fashion leaders of the era). Of course, if I do a French hairstyle then I’ll really be doing the aristocratic-appropriation-of-lower-class-style thing… But then hey, it’s exactly what Sophie (my French Lumieres character would do) – pick up a dress in Spain and have no idea how to wear it properly (“What do you mean – doesn’t EVERYONE wear French hairstyles BLINKBLINK?”)
So theoretically this will be my Costume College gala dress, and of course will go to some Lumieres events too!
Currently I am working on really analyzing this portrait to figure out what’s going on. The main question I have is what the embroidery is — silk, probably? Tambour? Bridget suggested it could incorporate spangles, but I feel like it’s not shiny enough – what do you think? Also, do you think those sleeves tie on, or is that just decoration? And metal buttons on the front, or some sort of thread that matches the embroidery? Check out this high res image if you want to peer at it and help me out!