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 They didn't stop; they continued throughout the country into the autumn, but royal permission had been withdrawn so the crown could avoid blame for the later murders.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!
Meanwhile, she is loved by an English soldier. Things get tragic. Honestly, I didn't find it all that interesting, despite it having such dramatic elements. Despite all the politics, love triangles, and bloodshed, the part I remember best was the rather odd garment worn by the young lady to a ball... a flat-chested boxy bodice with large skirt poofing out from the hips. I thought it was very unflattering.
Passing the Scottish Country Shop one day, I went in to see if I could examine a Glengarry cap in person. Alas, I didn't have much time before they closed, but based on what I saw there, I have made some alterations to my pattern. For instance, it's clear from the tartan caps like this that the base of the pattern is not a straight line, but a curve. If you turned the cap so that grain and cross-grain are a plus sign (look at the plaid), the back of the hat is hanging down. Another thing which is clear when I contrast my finished hat with the picture at the top of the post is that I should not have sewn around the curve at the bottom of the hat... the authentic hat is not sewn around the curve, so the curved edges flair open around the head when worn, and fold neatly when not worn. Here's a little sketch of the revised shapes:
My favorite blogger and my inspiration in many things is Leimomi Oakes. For years, she has done regular historical sewing challenges designed to help people get out of sewing ruts, finish UFOs (UnFinished Objects!), and learn more about historical sewing. This is the first year I've participated.
Given my current scattered set of sewing goals, and how few of them are historical, I found January's challenge somewhat... challenging. "January: Firsts & Lasts – Create either the first item in a new ensemble, or one last piece to put the final fillip on an outfit." Thing is, I haven't been making ensembles lately. But as I thought on it, I realized that I have been very interested in nightwear.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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