Friday, June 22, 2012

Fashion History Mythbusters: Victoria, Queen of Fashion

Victoria and Bertie, 1844
It is hard to understand Victorian era purses without first understanding Queen Victoria and her long rein over England. Her influence was so pronounced that it greatly affected styles and her middle class attitude was reflected in fashion. - Victorian Era Purses
It's easy to understand why this misconception exists.  The era is named for Victoria and therefore the fashion is referred to as Victorian, which implies that the fashions were created by her.  (I don't know where the idea that she had a "middle class attitude" comes from, though.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nitty Gritty

I spoke about what I'm doing at my internship in general terms before, but I wanted to go into it with some specific examples.

Lately, I've been going through a lot of medical supplies.  Three or four donations were made that consisted entirely of equipment, medications, etc. and fortunately just about everything in them was numbered.  Unfortunately:

  1. One donation doesn't have a list of items, just a gift agreement form that says, "1988.26.1-80: mostly medical equipment".
  2. One donation has some items labeled on the gift agreement, but with stretches of objects marked "unidentified medical tool".
  3. There are many boxes that are just full of stuff and took quite a while to go through.  On Tuesday I managed to get through roughly two shelves, when my usual rate is a whole shelving unit.
I documented my process with one of the more tightly packed boxes to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with.

  The box after I unpacked a small section of it.

Everything that was in that section.  There's a lot!

I took everything out and began cataloguing and putting the larger items in first - the boxes and that bottle of asafetida in a clear case.  The little box had assorted glass ampules*, but the others contained what was written on the label.

All of the loose bottles, some boxes, and some narrow pill tubes.

And here it is, all packed up!  My goal isn't exactly to make it look neater, but to try to get everything into such a position that the objects (especially the small glass ones) won't shift and possibly be crushed.  When you have little 1cc ampules and heavy brass trephines right next to each other, that's an important consideration.

* Ampules (or ampuls, or ampoules) are sealed containers, in this case, of medication.  Medicine ampules tend to be single dosages in glass capsules; most of these came in boxes with little files, so that the narrow neck could be safely broken and the medicine syringed up.

Here's another set:

There's a thin space on the left that could be filled in with a bit of archival paper, but because the boxes and tins fit together well there really isn't that much movement.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

1911 Lingerie Dress Plans

Like everyone, I have a plethora of historical clothing I'd like to make in an ideal world where fabric is free and a seamstress does the tricky bits for me.  Yesterday, though, I set some concrete goals for myself for ... well, I'm calling the goal "Dress U 2013," but obviously I'd like to be done a bit before that.

Goal One: An early 1910s lingerie dress with silk slip.

I've been in love with the lingerie dress for a while, and with the 1910s as a whole.  Lingerie dresses by definition don't need expensive materials, which also suits my wallet.  The idea of a colored silk slip underneath came to me from my 1902 McCall's Magazine (which is early, but I plan to do more research to find out if the idea continued into the next decade):
The white swisses, with black embroidered dot and inlays of black lace, are particularly effective over linings of rose pink or delicate green, but the prevailing mania for black and white makes a white silk slip the best investment for any one who can not afford several.
- from What to Wear in Summer: Pretty Fashions for Hot Weather

I'm not sure what I'm going to use for a pattern.  I own several lingerie dresses, and one in particular seems like it might be a good choice:

I'd like to look through the extant lingerie dresses at the Chapman, when I'm on a break, and see if any of them would be more suitable to copy, but this one seems like a good choice.  It's simple, and with the tight skirt, high waistline, bloused bodice, and cut-in-one sleeves, it's perfectly emblematic of the style.  I also think it might be flattering for me (fingers crossed).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)

For my first review, I'd like to go with a "favorite" of mine - The Lady and the Highwayman.  It's an adaptation of a Barbara Cartland novel that, surprisingly, stars Hugh Grant (not that surprising, thought, as a lot of established actors seem to have worked on one or another of these).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

That Poll

The tallies:

Do some posts on best/worst costume dramas, or just review a handful - 73%
Portrait costume analyses like American Duchess - 53%
Cataloguing in the museum, more details about what you've looked at - 40%

Finish that series about the 1780s, doofus - 33%
Translating your symposium paper on "The Greek Myths of Fashion" into a series - 20%
Write about a specific time period/designer that I will name in the comments - 6%
All right!  I can see what you want.  I'll start off with a run of costume drama reviews.  I'll need a little time to take some screencaps, but I have Lots of Thoughts, so they might be worth the wait?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dress University

I had a very good time!  There were a few mishaps with my planned off-campus accommodations, but the classes themselves were great.  I got to meet people I'd only ever met online, see a lot of beautiful clothing, learn about some subjects I hadn't thought much about before, bought some amazing hairpins, and built up a good store of ambition.

But I know what you really want - pictures.  (I freely admit that I'm not sure who most people in these are because I'm terrible with names and faces, so if you see yourself, please tell me!)