This will be a long post, mostly concerning the fire in 1911 and the pro-labor legislation that followed in America, but also touching on the global sweatshop problem today. Make some tea and join me for a talk.
In September of 1666, the Great Fire of London burned for five days, reaching temperatures hot enough to melt pottery and completely cremate victims, destroying thousands of buildings, and leaving seven eighths of Londoners homeless. In addition to devastating the city, the disaster ignited religious and ethnic hatreds, stirring mobs to violence and politicians to a blame game, and threatening the newly restored monarchy. London had been a medieval town, outgrowing its own streets and buildings, but after the fire it was rebuilt, with much the same street plan, but wider streets, better sewage disposal, and fire lanes to the Thames.
In 2014, PBS released a four-part miniseries dramatizing the Great Fire, which is compelling as history, drama, and costume-feast-for-the-eyes. And I... I love those things!
Today we get an unexpected peek into the past--a large portfolio of the fashion sketches and pattern drafts of a woman named Catherine Emma DeVore, who graduated from the Wolfe School of Costume Designing in Los Angeles in 1923. In addition, there are two envelopes full of ephemera: newspaper clippings, her doodles, ads, notes, photographs, envelopes....
Whence this bounty of delight? From a man I know who, having acquired this trove, was kind enough let me borrow it to take pictures! In turn, I did my best to return it as a tidy package, putting the pictures in order. I got so many photos, and uncovered enough interesting info, to make several posts, so I'll do this in installments:
Four hundred forty-six years ago yesterday, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre began in France. Today the killings continued in the city of Paris, before the King ordered them to stop (then start again, then stop, no really, stop). They didn't stop; they continued throughout the country into the autumn, but royal permission had been withdrawn so the crown could avoid blame for the later murders.
Yesterday I looked at the history and the 1994 film about the massacre, La Reine Margot. Today, I'm going to look at the costumes and especially the lace in that movie. The pictures in this post are all screencaps from when I last watched it, cropped to focus the attention on specific characters/costumes. Click any one to see it full size!
The 1994 film La Reine Margot (Queen Margot) is very artsy, very French, and bloody as a butcher shop. It tells a "romantic" and fictionalized version of the events surrounding the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in France in 1572, 446 years ago today. It's compelling-- once I was watching it while sewing, and I sewed right over my finger! (Don't watch movies while sewing unless you've seen them a bunch of times and don't need to pay too much attention.) Today, I want to talk briefly of the history of the massacre and review the movie. Tomorrow, I'll highlight the movie's costuming choices, especially the lace.
Today an informative post about the development of French needlelaces! As I previously defined it, needlelace is lace made by embroidering with a needle rather than braiding with bobbins or crocheting or knitting. During the reign of Louis XIV (the Sun King), the French government made a deliberate investment in lacemaking, as part of a wide-ranging plan to become Europe's center for luxury goods, fashion, and taste. They had stiff competition in all those fields: the Italians and Dutch were already Europe's sourcebook and marketplace for luxury goods. In particular, as relates to lace, the bobbin laces of the Netherlands were fantastically expensive and popular. But the needlelace of Italy was also prestigious; Italy developed needlelace from its history of drawn thread work and reticella, and by the 1600's the Italian gros point de Venise, which was sculptural and meant to look like carved ivory, was the needlelace to beat. The French set out to beat it.
Right-over-left, that is. In the Western world, women's garments traditionally close right-over-left, while men's close left-over-right. As an example, the Moss Brothers jacket I showed you on Monday is a women's jacket because of the right-over-left closure (as well as the princess seams giving room for the bosom, and the flared hips with slanting pockets for style). That's why I was surprised to find no womenswear on their company website!
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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