So this is not the post I was setting out to write a few days ago, but my thoughts have been interrupted by a piece of costuming work so gorgeous I'm having trouble doing anything other than trying to recreate a specific vest.
Namely this one...
Now, pretty much everyone I know is aware that I love Costume Drama's, especially those based on literature. I do tend to go on about them. Now there is something kind of fun about these productions that not a lot of people are aware of unless they are addicts like myself. There is a whole group of people who like to try and spot all of the costumes that get reused from movie to movie. )See this article for an idea of what I'm talking about... http://www.costumersguide.com/reused_regency.shtml)
One of my favorite examples is a Black and White pinstriped traveling gown worn in by main characters Lady Dedlock in the newer production of Dicken's "Bleak House" and also Margaret Hale in Elizabeth Gaskell's "North and South" (my personal favorite.)
My point I guess is this; while Costume Drama's are lovely and obviously the costumes themselves are part of the point, it is rare in my experience to be really blown away by the inventiveness or clever spirit of a design, rather than simply the historical accuracy.
I have only just begun watching the BBC series "Lark Rise to Candleford." I'm only 3 episodes into the first season (and waiting very impatiently for the next disc from Netflix,) but within the very first episode I was so wowed by the costuming to the point where there are individual pieces I am determined to adapt for myself, the vest at the top of this post being the first. I only wish I could find a picture of the back to show you as it is just as fantastic as the front.
For me the genius of these pieces lies in the color, and the cleverness. The palette is so different from what we normally see for this period, and the designs appear to be so informed by the character wearing them instead of merely by their social class. (Though social class and it's distinctions are the driving force of the story.) They also seemed to be truly informed by "fashion", both that of the time and of the present.
Thus far Dorcas Lane, the local postmistress, is wearing the things I would want for myself, but here are a few other examples...
Laura Timmins is the main protagonist, a poor village girl who is sent from her home in Lark Rise to work and study in the middleclass town of Candleford. Her clothing is perfect for her age of 16, but very much conveys her coming of age, and more importantly the transition she is making to a life of slightly higher standing. Some of the things she wears are a little outdated and awkward, but I would bet that this becomes much less pronounced the longer the show continues and the longer she is in Candleford.
Seen here in their Sunday best, sisters Pearl and Ruby run the local haberdashery in Candleford. They are your run of the mill busybodies and town gossips.Their matching outfits are a scream, and the thing they remind me of the most are the shopgirls in Pretty Woman who are less than charitable toward Julia Roberts. They are also a bit fashion victimy which I love.
Lady Adelaide is the well bred London wife of the local Squire Sir Timothy. She is tall and willowy and as Dorcas first describes her, impossibly beautiful. More than anything she consistently looks like a very realistic version of one of the elaborate china dolls my Grandmother loved so much. A bit carved from marble. I'm certainly interested to see where they take her character. I'm desperately trying not to give too much away! She has one full lace dress that I wish I could find a photo of. Absolutely to die for.
And finally, the inimitable Dawn French as the spendthrift and usually drunken Mrs. Arless. Forever wandering about with her stays exposed, she is perhaps one of the best examples of why this show is so different for me. In most productions set in the Victorian era, a character like Mrs. Arless would look quite different. She is incredibly poor, uneducated, with 6 children and a husband at sea. In addition she spends all the money she does have on beer and frivolities and then has to beg her neighbors for food for her children. If this were Dicken's, she might retain the comic aspect of her character, but she'd certainly have a more drab appearance and wouldn't have a prayer of escaping with such ease the many scrapes she gets herself into. The fact that she is so colorful and that her poverty is acknowledged in such a different way (the lack of an overbodice, the rips in her indian shawl) is a refreshing delight.
I've also recently watched the miniseries "Desperate Romantics" which explored the lives and loves of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. While I didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped, it is another example of really interesting and different Victorian design, this time with a focus on the men and a more Bohemian aspect of Victorian London than we normally see.
Well, I suppose that's all for now. I have proved that I CAN blog again! Look for the post I was originally working on to be here soon!
Happy Labor Day Weekend!