A New Black Silk Coat, part 3

Perhaps you wonder if the coat was finished in time? Well, I did wear it for the annual masked ball last Friday. For some reason I thought it was on Saturday, but a friend corrected me earlier this week, for which I am very grateful, otherwise I had been unknowingly sewing away on Friday night. I took the day off and had the coat in wearable state less than two hours before the ball. The rest of my attire consisted of black silk breeches, white waistcoat, stockings, and opera pumps. And the new wig, sprinkled with generous amounts of powder. Ready for 1792!

The ball was well organised as always. The music and the dancing was a treat (longways and quadrilles), and so were all the fabulous costumes (many zone-fronts, anglaises and one or two francaises), the hors d´oeuvres and the desserts.

Photo by Regencygentleman

I wore the coat with matching black silk breeches and a white waistcoat. Here I am, minutes before we parted, so I was pretty tired and the powder was everywhere…

Photo by Regencygentleman

A full view, including my knitted stockings and opera pumps. This ensemble, without the wig, would be appropriate formal attire about 1800-1820.

The assembly room was warm and crowded. This is when we rested our feet while watching a special quadrille being performed:

Me and my friend Camilla. I was melting away, so the moment before I removed my simple white mask. Terrific fan and terrific shot, don´t you think?

Look at this beauty: a wine fountain. Ingenious! I helped myself to one or two glasses while chatting away with friends.

I borrowed this one. Two ladies looking great while I apparently photobombed them. Photo by Magdalena Fick.

We withdrew to the smaller rooms upstairs for tea and coffee, and cakes and sorbets. They were in abundance and they were divine! It was nice to have time for some conversation with old friends and new acquaintances, but as always there were far too many to whom I only had time to say hello and goodbye…

Looks like I was channeling my inner Scarlet Pimpernel here, but I was just going home in the middle of the night. It was freezing.

Photo by Regencygentleman

I came home and had to take a foyer selfie for you, dear readers…

Some notes regarding the coat: I sewed on the standing collar and the self-covered buttons, but had to leave the buttonholes. I also saved the pocket flaps for later. Hopefully no one noticed. I was not willing to compromise with my handsewing only to regret it later. The front edges were prick-stitched, visible here:

One of the cuffs I wrote about in my previous post.

I finished the tails. Some unsightly puckering to the right, but it only shows in photos.

The day after I started on the buttonholes. I was planning to use this silk cord, and cut and pinned them in place, Hmm, I did not like the effect. They are too clumsy. I am afraid I have to sew buttonhole stitches after all… You can see the centre back seam where I quickly overcast the raw edges of the seam allowance.

Conclusion: I am quite happy with the coat, but it needs some finishing touches. Hopefully I get them sorted out before next wearing. In the future I might even consider adding more trim…

Photo by Regencygentleman

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Updating my Wardrobe: a New Black Silk Coat, part 2

I thought I’d update you on the status of the coat. I’ve had some work weekends lately but the ambition has been to sew half an hour or so on weekday evenings. (It is sort of difficult so handle black silk at night when ones eyes are tired.)

Fitting the sleeves. The tails are still unfinished. The taffeta looks like stiff paper here…

Over to the button factory. This style of coat needs large, covered buttons, and I decided to make my own from inexpensive wooden craft buttons, 30 mm in diameter. The ones I found come in bags with a dozen, and we already had some spare ones in a glass jar filled with craft supplies, so there are enough. Two at the back, two on each cuff, and between nine and eleven buttons on the front, depending on what looks best. They are all non-functional, so no need for real buttonholes!

This is when I drilled holes in the wooden button for the shank, made from wire:

Making self-covered buttons.

The buttons are then covered in black taffeta:

Next step: covering the wooden buttons with silk.

I found a nice cuff that was in vogue 1785-90, as seen on several coats in V&A:

Coat, striped silk, c. 1785-1790. These buttons are gorgeous, aren´t they? Notice the nice handmade stitches? Victoria and Albert museum, T.92-1962.

Here I pinned a cuff on one sleeve:

The cuff is pinned in place to check the fit.

It can work, I think.

On to the collar and sewing on the buttons. And finishing the tails and the hem. Did I tell you I was planning to wear this coat in less than 24 hours? Fingers crossed…

Updating My Wardrobe: a New Black Silk Coat

Greetings to you all! This blog has been resting since the end of last year. Not because I had to take a break. I simply haven´t had any costume projects to share. True, I have been to one or two events, but nothing new there.

However, I have felt the need to add something formal to my wardrobe, as well as something versatile, since there are a lot of these Gustavian (late 18th century) events around here. So I have decided to make myself a new coat. I have hoarded some black silk taffeta for a while now, not quite knowing what to do with it. But now I am about to turn it into a 1780´s-1790´s frock coat. It will make a nice ensemble with the black silk breeches and one of my formal waistcoats. It can be accessorised with or without a wig depending on what decade I chose to represent. It could even be appropriate for 18oo-ish.

As usual I try to do my research before cutting anything. Black garments were perhaps not all that common with the upper set but more so among the affluent middle classes. I am going for something formal but not too extravagant; I will not travel to Versailles nor the court of S:t James anytime soon.

Whenever possible, I try to consult the following sources: portrait paintings, fashion plates and extant garments.

Here´s a wonderful, well known David-painting from the Met:

Jacques-Louis David: Portrait of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife, 1788. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monsieur Lavoisier was a prominent chemist and wealthy administrator in pre-revolutionary France. He was not an aristocrat but nevertheless lost his head, at age 50, in 1794 during the terror. In this portrait none of that had happened. He is wearing a black suit, buckled shoes, white frills and a powdered wig, sitting at his desk surrounded by carefully arranged Important Instruments and his lovely wife Marie-Anne. I like Lavoisier´s understated elegance.

Then there are quantities of fashion plates online. I cannot remember where I found this, but it is a fashionable French gent modelling 1781 fashions. He is fancier than Lavoisier, with an embroidered waistcoat, he is apparently a member of the Aristocracy since he is nonchalantely carrying a rapier. Anyway, I like the black silk coat-and-breeches-ensemble. He is also wearing a terrific wig.

Fashion plate, French, 1781

This coat is in the Skokloster Castle collections. It was worn by Count Brahe somewhere around 1800. (It is impossible to be more precise, unfortunately.) It is in perfect condition. It could have been made today, but then anything ordered by Count Brahe was always top quality. Of course it is a fancy amber silk with white silk piping, but the narrow silhouette is similar to the coats above, and I can study important details such as buttons, collar and pocket flaps.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Silk coat, 1790-1810. Skokloster Castle, Sweden.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Silk coat, 1790-1810. Skokloster Castle, Sweden. Note the impeccable buttonholes and the gathered sleeve heads.

Here is my black silk taffeta, and a glimpse of the brown linen that will give the coat some body.

Work is pretty straightforward, I just use my old toile from the blue tailcoat as pattern.

Cutting the pieces: the back and one sleeve.

I always prefer hand sewing, but I admit the machine came out for some quick interfacing, A strip of canvas is sewn to the linen lining. Normally I would do pad stiches here, but these seams will only show if you look very closely on the inside of the coat.

 

I basted the taffeta to the linen, treating them like one piece when assembling the coat. Here the centre back seam is ready to be stitched.

Et voila! The centre back seam is done.

A closeup of the back seam. After opening and pressing the seam allowance, I added a strengthening prick stitch on both sides.

Shoulders and side seams are done. Closing the lining.

Like so. Next I need to work on the tails.

This is how far I got before going out of town for the week..

Oh, about one month ago I went to a costume ball in the Royal Armoury, and then I began styling a cheap wig I found…

Photo by Regencygentleman.

Photo by Regencygentleman

The Skokloster Castle Jane Austen Ball

One of the highlights this summer was arranging the ball in Skokloster Castle. We decided last year to relocate the annual Empire/Regency ball of Stockholm to the castle, due to the Jane Austen costume exhibition.

Photograph courtesy of Johanna Blixbo.

The exhibition was also the reason why the ball turned into a larger event than what we had experienced before. It was also the first ball in the castle since the last private owner sold it to the state fifty years ago. The tickets were released in May and were sold out in only a few weeks. I took a deep breath and released additional tickets. They sold out too.

This dreamy, flattering photo was used for promoting the ball.

It was followed by a lot of ordering food, investigating the possibility of a chartered bus from town, answering countless questions, renting tables and tableware, setting up detailed schedules, hiring staff, etc. My five or six fellow organisers (long time friends and members of the historical societies  that usually arrange these events) took care of the dance programme, the musicians, and the events that took place in town on the day before and after the ball.

It was exciting to welcome old friends and new friends, many of which were fans of Jane Austen, but never had danced or even worn Regency costume before. People travelled from near and far, mainly from Sweden, but several guests came over from Finland. We even had some guests all the way from Bath.

The elegant ball-goers started to arrive after five o’clock. They had time to mingle in front of the castle and show off their Regency finery before we opened the doors:

(Beware: This is an image-heavy post. All photos by our official photographer Johanna Blixbo.)

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Skokloster Castle Jane Austen Ball. Photo by Regencygentleman

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Dance master Anna, and I officially opening the ball. I had so much to do up until then, so I had no time to prepare an eloquent, well-versed speech. (Or sew something new, or cut my hair…)

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Our elegant guests walking through the door while the orchestra was playing:

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy of Mari Lind Strömblad

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

The narrow gallery was the only place in the castle were we were able to dance, but it was ideal for longway country dances. We had to make sure there was enough space for one hundred and forty guests! The programme was comprised of five sets with two to four dances in every set:

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Studying the dance programme and forming couples.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy of Johanna Blixbo.

Halfway through the dance programme it was time for dinner. Two very long tables were required. The food was ordered from a caterer in town. There was plenty of it and it was delicious!

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Rental chairs are either terribly ugly or very expensive, so we had to use benches…

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Helena, a fabulous staff member. The team certainly did a terrific job.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

After dinner we opened the doors to the Austen exhibition on the third floor. It was a different experience, magic, even, to see the costumes in the fading light. Downstairs, there was some musical entertainment before the dance continued.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

After more dancing coffee and dessert was served. We had scrumptious cake and chocolates for days after…

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo courtesy Johanna Blixbo.

Photo by Regencygentleman

We wrapped up the ball after midnight by stepping outside and dancing the final Mr Beveridge´s Maggot in front of the castle: (Photos below by Jenny Björkquist.)

Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

The entire experience was magic. Of course it was a lot of hard work, but it was so worth it. Imagine even being paid to make this come true, and having so much fun along the way!

I think we managed to live up to the incredibly high expectations.

The big question is if Skokloster Castle is willing to host the ball next year…

 

 

Jane Austen´s World, Part 5

Since my last post I have been frantically sewing myself a costume for a ball in a different era (1680!). The film costumes are going back to Cosprop in London in less than two weeks, so I must hurry to walk you through the exhibition. (How on earth could it take me the lenght of a summer to do it?!)

The exhibition ends in the spirit of a Jane Austen novel: with a wedding reception. Three couples are lined up in the grand salon: Elinor and Edward, Marianne and Brandon, and Elizabeth and Darcy.

Jane Austen film costumes, Skokloster castle

Skokloster Castle

The painted baroque ceiling is stunning.

First, Jenny Beavan´s beautiful costumes from Sense and Sensibility (1995). The story ends with the wedding between Marianne and Brandon. The other couple to walk out to the cheering wedding party outside the church is Elinor and Edward. Despite all those unexpressed feelings between Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars (superb acting by Thompson and Grant!) they end up getting married. Elinor is elegant in a printed muslin roundgown with a velvet spencer and a bonnet. Edward is dressed in black and white: black tailcoat, waistcoat, breeches and stockings. White linen shirt and cravat, and shoes with buckles. Nothing extravagant or avantgarde here, rather conservative and suitable for a country clergyman. They will settle in the parsonage on the Delaford estate and live sensibly – although comfortably – on 900 pounds per annum.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

The Ferrars, Elinor and Edward. Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Costume designer: Jenny Beavan and John Bright.

Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant as Elinor and Edward in Sense and Sensibility, 1995. This is of course the final scene outside the village church. Most people probably think it is a double wedding, but it is not. Elinor and Edward are already married and are acting as officiant/best man and matron of honour. (Explained by Emma Thompson in her film diaries.)

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Nice details on Elinor´s velvet spencer. The bows could be vintage. The roundgown has a delicate bobbin lace along the neckline and sleeves.

Sense and Sensibility 1995. Exhibition in Skokloster castle.

The bow in the back is never seen on screen but is a nice touch.

Sense and Sensibility 1995. Exhibition in Skokloster castle.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

The back, when we dressed the mannequin.

Have you noticed that Elinor is wearing this gown twice? It is first seen in one of the London scenes when the girls find themselves in a pickle, and Brandon turns up to help them. Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Elinor´s bonnet with all the trimmings.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995

Elinor and Edward in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Edward´s suit. Very late eighteenth century, The restricted light makes it difficult to photograph black wool.

Nice silk buttons on Edward´s coat.

 

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Elinor´s gown has a long train. This is still the 1790´s.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

The table is ready for the wedding breakfast.

Marianne´s story is different. She falls passionately in love, gets her heart broken, and finds (a different sort of) love again. Dashing Willoughby is forced to marry another girl but loyal Colonel Brandon has been around throughout the story, and turns out to have qualities that go beyond the age gap. (In the beginning of the story Marianne finds Brandon a boring old man, he is at least 35!) This has been discussed for two centuries by now. Is she attracted to his quiet, gentemanlike manner? His interest in poetry and music? Or is it his estate Delaford and his fortune? Anyway, Marianne is fitted out in a magnificent gown in gold embroidered silk and tulle with a long train. The scene is over in a few seconds, so blink and you miss it.

Marianne and Colonel Brandon: Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman in Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Colonel Brandon chooses to marry in his regimentals. He is transformed from an ‘old man in flannel waistcoat’ to a dashing husband. Earlier we were told that Brandon served in India, where ‘the air was full of spices’… Film scenes are seldom shot in sequence, so the wedding scene was Alan Rickman´s first day on set.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Wedding costumes, worn by Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman as Marianne and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Photo courtesy Jens Mohr.

Sense and Sensibilty 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster Castle.

Marianne´s gown and Colonel Brandon´s regimentals. The uniform consists of a red wool jacket with short tails, green cuffs and centre front. The jacket has gold trim and gold buttons, and a gold epaulette. White pantaloons and black hessian boots. A black silk stock and a deep red sash. (The sash was re-tied to the right after this picture was taken.)

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

The open robe is in cream net fabric with straw worked standing collar and a long train bordered with open work straw braid and heavy gold and silver beading. The underdress is a cream gauze over silk, studded with tiny silver stars.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

So much work went into this gown!

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

The net overdress with straw embroidery. This type of work was popular in the eighteenth century and several garments survive in museum collections.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Marianne´s bonnet is a delicate veil and flowers on a wire frame.

A young Kate Winslet wearing the costume. Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Not the best picture, but here is a view of the back.

It took me some time to adjust the linen shirt collar and the black neck stock. This is how they should look.

Costumes from Sense and Sensibility 1995. Skokloster castle.

Epaulette on Colonel Brandon´s uniform.

Brandon´s black Hessian boots.

The final wedding clothes are from Pride and Prejudice, 1995. A spoiler alert is superfluous since we all know that Lizzy and Darcy end up marrying. Now, that IS a double wedding in the adaptation. (The weddings are mentioned only briefly in the novel.) Jane and Lizzy, the oldest Bennet girls, marry Bingley and Darcy. Dinah Collins designed the costumes.

A double wedding: Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. Pride and Prejudice, 1995. The familiar faces behind them look very solemn, but most of them, except miss Bingley,  are extremely thrilled.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Elizabeth´s and Darcy´s wedding costumes, Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Lizzy is wearing a lace edged, v-necked silk pelisse over a striped silk dress. Darcy´s attire is correct morning wear: navy tailcoat, cream silk waistcoat, white moleskin pantaloons, and shoes (pumps).

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Decorative enamel buttons. A snap button keeps the little ‘belt’ in position.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

This is how it works: The pelisse and dress are partially sewn together. The striped skirt fastens with hooks and eyes to the gathered/pleated bodice.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster Castle.

The enamel buttons are decorative as the bodice has hooks and eyes. There is a supportive under-bodice with a draw-string.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

Machine seams…

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Gathered sleeves on Lizzy´s pelisse.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

The fine lace continues around the back. The width of the skirt is gathered in two deep pleats.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Lizzy´s bonnet. It was created by milliner Louise Macdonald.

Publicity still of Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Darcy´s morning suit.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Darcy´s silk waistcoat and cravat. The linen shirt has a ruffle. (It is a challenge to tie a decent cravat when the mannequin lacks any type of neck…)

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

M-notch lapel.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

Darcy´s moleskin pantaloons. The fall and the waist buttons with two metal buttons respectively.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Costume exhibit in Skokloster castle.

Darcy´s watch fob with heart-shaped pendant.

Pride and Prejudice 1995. Costume exhbition in Skokloster castle.

Would you know it: There is no watch! A safety pin holds the fob (ribbon) to the waistcoat. Movie magic…

This costume is often seen in a set of publicity stills. Different pendant on watch fob, though. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in Pride and Prejudice, 1995. (Early still with a different wig on Ehle.)

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Darcy is wearing a grey cloak in many pictures. I suppose there were several takes.

‘Three daughters married!’ A winter wedding requires an abundance of swan feathers. Alison Steadman as mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

It has been a privilege to study these famous costumes in detail. Of course they didn´t know it back in the 1990´s, but today they are regarded as relics in the Austen-Regency-costuming community. Not everything is historically accurate, but the astounding work they did back then continue to inspire us. Is there a particular costume that you were inspired by? Out of the ones above I´d pick Darcy´s outfit any day! Elinor´s clothes may not look very special, but they are extremely well made, so I have a soft spot for them. But why choose at all?

Regencygentleman

Looking a bit grumpy because the show´s near the end… This particular day I had a couple of guided tours and acyually managed to tie a decent knot.

Next post will be about some of the costumes I made for the staff and visitors to this exhibition. And I ought to post some pictures from the ball…

Jane Austen´s World, part 4

My goodness, how time flies! Since my return from summering in the country I have practically lived in the castle (work, that is – when day job and costuming meet, you know) preparing for the ball. It took place this past Saturday and I will write about it as soon as the pictures are delivered by the photographer. This one I took the morning after, a torn piece of vintage lace and a lost earring:

On 17 July, I was interviewed by one of the major and very serious radio-shows, trying to explain why I think Jane Austen and her work is more popular than ever, not the least here in Sweden. There probably is a link somewhere but I am not sharing here since it is entirely auf Schwedish. Jane Austen was of course everywhere in British media on that day.

I have more fantastic costumes to share with you, so let us continue with part four. I hope this exposé isn´t beginning to be tiresome. If you are new here or forgot what costumes I am referring to, read earlier posts about the exhibition here, here and here.

Coffee is served and the card table is ready in the drawing room. Enter Anne Elliot. The first costume is her lovely gown in pale yellow silk, as seen on actress Amanda Root in Persuasion (BBC, 1995). She is standing next to her cousin, the heir to Kellynch Hall, William Elliot. A young Samuel West played Elliot. Their first encounter is at Lyme Regis, and Elliot is dressed in the buff overcoat. Later, in Bath, he is often wearing a moss-green tailcoat, striped cotton pantaloons and checked waistcoat. Alexandra Byrne (Elizabeth, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Finding Neverland) designed the costumes, and actually won the BAFTA TV Award, in competition with Pride and Prejudice (1995). I admit, the costumes are perfection! This adaptation has never been my favourite, but this year I have re-watched it several times and now I really like it, for being so true to the novel. I suppose I appreciate it more now when I am older…

Poor Anne is bullied by her horrible father and sisters. She certainly deserves a decent dress, doesn´t she?. This intrictate trim is hardly seen on screen.

Persuasion (1995): Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth and Amanda Root as Anne Elliot. Costumes by Amanda Byrne.

Persuasion (1995): Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot, here with cousin William Elliot, played by Samuel West.

This is the costume in the exhibition.

Mr Elliot´s cravat.

The mannequin is standing in front of a window, so it is difficult to photograph.

Daring combination, don´t you think?

Standing by the tapestry: Emma Woodhouse and Jane Fairfax, from the most recent adaptation of Emma (2009). Rosalind Ebbut designed the costumes. Her ambition was to introduce more colour and texture. Emma is wearing more vibrant colours than we have seen before. Ebbut wanted the ballgowns in shimmering pastels so she layered sheer fabrics, organza and net over silk taffeta. The girls are wearing these frocks to the Crown Inn ball.

Ballgowns from Emma (2009). The incredible suite of tapestries is French, and was a gift from Louis XIV to the Swedish amassador, Count Nils Bielke. The furniture is upholstered in British printed cotton, ca 1830.

Emma´s gown is a shimmering peach silk organza layered over silk taffeta,

Nice to se hand stitching on the belt.

And here is Romola Garai as Emma Woodhouse in Emma (2009).

Jane´s dress is pale blue net or tulle over white silk. The tulle is sprinkled with tiny sequins and the belt is silver metallic weave.

Laura Pyper was Jane Fairfax in Emma (2009).

Then we return to Pride and Prejudice. Formal wear this time: Elizabeth Bennet´s ballgown, Darcy´s black and white tails, Miss Bingley´s ballgown and Lady Catherine de Bourgh´s old fashioned robe à la Francaise.

I am referring to these costumes.

Lizzie Bennet´s gown in cream and gold. She is wearing it to the famous ball at Netherfield Park.

I am certain that Dinah Collin used sari silk. Look at the woven pattern on the belt.

Most of Lizzie´s dresses button in the back.

Lady Catherine and her nephew, Darcy.

Darcy´s tailcoat with breeches and white cravat, waistcoat and stockings, Very little has changed since then in formal wear.

I would wear this.

Four decorative buttons on each side.

Darcy´s pumps. (Secrets of the trade: only we can see that the mannequin´s feet are too big for Darcy´s/Firth´s pumps.

Judi Dench as Lady Catherine in Pride & Prejudice (2005).

This extravagant dress is Miss Bingley´s signature colour and design, isn´t it?

Intricate details on Miss Bingley´s gown. Dinah Collins said the haughty Bingley sisters would wear the Gucci of the day. The jewel silks are a contrast to the Bennet girls´innocent printed cottons.

 

Anna Chancellor gave a spot-on performance as unpleasant Caroline Bingley. Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Most of my Regency garments are in my office this summer. Whenever I give a tour or do other work I can dress up in appropriate attire. The perfect mix of business and pleasure!

 

Jane Austen´s World, part 3

Greetings to all new and old followers! Or perhaps you are perusing, collecting ideas for your own Regency costume? This blog has a little bit of this and that, but main focus is on Regency fashions, and I try to share my sporadic costume projects. This year I have been involved professionally in staging Jane Austen´s World, a costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle, where I work as curator. Since I happen to have this blog I simply must blog about these familiar – some of them even iconic – film costumes in a series of posts.

We already met the Bennets, the Dashwoods and Emma Woodhouse in the daytime parlour. Read about them here and here. In the second room we step in to the bedchamber. It is a lovely guest room, but we added some furniture and other objects from the collections. The four-poster beds are ca 1800, with printed cotton hangings, British, ca 1830. A dressing table, mirror, wash basins, towels and a bidet were added. This is the intimate sphere, where the young ladies – could be the Dashwood sisters or Jane and Lizzie Bennet – are being dressed. We talk about personal hygiene and how cotton fabric became more accessible around 1800.

A pair of nightgowns flanking a pair of stays and a chemise. These are not specific to a certain production or certain characters, but came from stock. Everything else is from the museum collections. Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH.

British Regency fabric on the beds: the printed cotton is lovely, and in excellent condition.

This intimate sphere includes other important features in the world of Jane Austen. Writing letters, for example:

Many of these letters are crucial to the plot, and Jane Austen often includes them in her novels. We also wanted to mention one of Austen´s contemporaries, a female author who wasn´t afraid to be published and who had to fight for her beliefs: Mary Wollstonecraft.

 

This is where we introduce one of the most famous literary characters ever created, Mr. Darcy. He is sitting at his desk writing the long letter to Lizzie Bennet where he reveals Mr. Wickham´s true nature:

Mr. Darcy. The coat, breeches and boots are from ‘Pride & Prejudice’, 2005. (The film version starring Keira Knightley as Lizzie and Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy.) For some reason this particular costume does not resonate with me, so I didn´t bother to take that many pictures of it.

Pride and Prejudice 2005. Costume exhibition in Skokloster castle.

Looks better on Matthew MacFadyen, but still not my favourite coat. (Pride & Prejudice, 2005)

But then there is that certain costume that most people associate with Darcy (and Jane Austen adaptations, for that matter): The Shirt.

This ordinary linen shirt caused quite a buzz back in 1995. It was Colin Firth´s ticket to eternal stardom and started Darcymania in its many varieties.

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the BBC Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

This phenomenon has been analysed so many times since then, so what else can I add? It is fun to observe our visitors when they see the shirt and decide (if not sooner) that now is the time to take pictures.

Marianne Dashwood is there too, with her letters to that scoundrel Willoughby. Marianne Dashwood´s day gown is exhibited. It was designed by Jenny Beavan and worn by Kate Winslet in several scenes in Sense and Sensibility, 1995. It is a sleeveless silk robe with v-neck collar over a cotton dress. It is easy to miss it on screen, but it is a beautiful gown, with many details. Of course Marianne is the romantic, passionate sister, something that nearly kills her. Her relationship with Willoughby does not end well. It is interesting that both of them ignore propriety in several ways. On one of their outings they visit Willoughby´s estate, unshaperoned. That is enough to ruin a girl´s reputation in Regency society. Marianne seeks up Willoughby at the ball in London, again very unladylike behaviour. Society would frown upon a young lady writing (passionate!) letters to a gentleman to whom she isn´t related. We learn that there never was an engagement.

Marianne´s dress from Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Scattered on the desk is her desperate letters to Willoughby, and finally his polite but cold reply. Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH.

A drawstring closes the neckline. The silk dress has hooks and eyes on right hand side, concealed by the belt.

The silk appears to be either hand painted or hand printed. Or stencilled? Notice the amount of fabric that is pleated at the back? This create the elegant Empire style silhouette, so make sure to use enough material in your gowns, ladies!

This reticule came with the dress, so Marianne had to carry one of her letters to Willoughby in it.

Kate Winslet as Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Here with Emma Thompson, Imogen Stubbs and director Ang Lee.

This costume is seen earlier in the film when the girls gather reeds and Colonel Brandon offers Marianne a knife. They are still in mourning so Marianne is wearing a black lace cape or shawl with it.

Or does she? Here she is wearing only the cotton dress with a sleeveless green velvet spencer. Now I´m confused. And I have an excuse to go and watch the film.

 

Jane Austen´s World, part 2

This spring has been hectic but so much fun! Last time I introduced the exhibition we have been working on. Today we are taking a look at the Bennets! First, a group from the 1995 BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice’ – perhaps the best known costumes by now. They were designed by Dinah Collin and we have to say her team did a wonderful job. This was the beginning of the modern Austen-era, so they had to make nearly every costume from scratch. It was a challenge to find the right fabrics, so they screen printed patterns on muslins, and used a lot of Indian sari-fabrics.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Jane Bennet´s cotton dress and linen spencer. Soft pastels suit Jane´s sweet disposition.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Elizabeth Bennet often wears robust, earthy tones. This is her silk dress and brown embroidered spencer.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

These two ensembles are seen in the very beginning of the story when the Bennets are walking home from church, and Mrs Bennet is going on about a certain new neighbour. Susannah Harker played Jane and Jennifer Ehle WAS Elizabeth. Pride and Prejudice, 1995.

Lizzie wears the silk dress frequently. Perhaps you rememember it from the disastruous first proposal… The girls´gowns all seem to have buttons in the back, which was coming in fashion in the 1810´s.

Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

It was nice to create the daily mess in the Bennets´ drawing room. The girls have different interests. Mary is reading or playing the pianoforte, Kitty and Lydia are trimming a bonnet, and Jane is embroidering. The portrait is the real-life countess Brahe who lived in Skokloster castle during the first half of the 19th century.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

And then there is of course Mrs Bennet. Her light wool dress with printed floral pattern.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Mrs B wears a frilled cap, a matching lace shawl and a coral necklace.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

The dress is front-closing. A narrow silk ribbon ties the neckline. Hooks and snaps (!) fasten the skirt. The gauzy chemisette is tied around the waist.

The mannequin lacks mrs B´s persona, portrayed so annoyingly and spot-on by Allison Steadman. It is easier to see the cap and frills here. Benjamin Withrow played mr Bennet. At first glance she is the demanding wife and he is the long suffering husband, but I have greater sympathy with her today. She is only trying to secure the girls´future, since her husband seems to have given up, spending his days in the library, or talking to her in a patronising tone…

This dress has been used in several other productions. Read more about it over on Recycled movie costumes.

This concludes the first of several rooms. The following two rooms are very different. Through a bedroom is  the tower room packed with information for those who wish to learn more about the world of Jane Austen. There are interviews with Dinah Collin and Jenny Beavan, and a handful of Swedish experts on fashion history, English literature and of course Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

This exquisite piece of furniture, ca 1750, doubles as ‘Jane Austen´s desk’. Piles of Miss Austen´s letters and manuscripts are scattered on the desk and chair.

Come back soon for more!

Jane Austen´s World

Dear all, the exhibition opened one month ago, and since then my intention has been to share the marvellous costumes with you. That moment has come, finally! I am afraid I have tons of pictures by now, so it took me the better part of the day to sort them out. Therefore I decided to do it in several installments.

Many of the costumes have been on tour for years by now, so you might think this is nothing to be excited about.  But what a ‘nerd-fest’ it is!  A handful of these costumes were in Sweden only last summer. Little did I know then I would be working with them myself one year later! The costumes, about 30 in total, were selected by us and rented from Cosprop, the renowned costumier in London.

The team is very happy with how the exhibition turned out, and we have had a lot of attention from media. And we love when visitors turn up in Regency fashions.

The costumes are of course lovely, but the other star of the show is the setting. This part of the castle is usually closed to the public, which is a shame because the rooms are stunning. They are a mix of Baroque ceilings, fireplaces and wainscoting, and late 18th to early 19th century neoclassical furnishings and paintings. It was rather easy to recreate the atmosphere you see in the different adaptations. We moved some furniture and re-arranged the paintings.

The weeks leading up to the opening were hectic, as always, but it was a fairly smooth process.

The opening ceremony was on 1 June. Friends and associates (the usual suspects) were invited to enjoy afternoon tea in the ground floor gallery. The British ambassador mr David Hearn graciously accepted to give the opening speech. When my co-workers aren´t busy posing as the Dashwood sisters, their business titles are conservator and administrator, respectively. Several of the frocks I made this spring premiered on this day. Some of the guests wore Regency attire, too.

These silhouettes lead the way up to the third floor.

A bit too dark, but this is the introduction in the third floor gallery, before entering the suite of rooms where the costumes are.

The first costume is from the Kate Beckinsale ‘Emma’, the ITV television production from 1996.Screen writer Andrew Davies was joined by the production team from Pride and Prejudice the year before. Jenny Beavan designed the costumes.

Emma´s nice 3/4 length velvet coat is worn over a printed muslin dress, accessorised with a frilled collar. The velvet is plum coloured, but it was obviously difficult for me to photograph… There are several adaptations of the novel. They all have their pros and cons. I would say that Kate Beckinsale does a good job here and it stays fairly close to the book. I don´t care much for mr Elton in this one though. The story is set in 1816, when the novel was published, which is reflected by the costumes. Waists were as high as they could go and skirts were shorter, starting to show some ancle.

Emma, 1996. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Emma, 1996. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Emma, 1996. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Emma, 1996. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Interesting back. Kate Beckinsale named this costume “The Dung beetle”.

Emma 1996. ITV Archive

As seen on Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse.

Emma´s printed dress was featured in the promotion pictures. Here with Mark Strong as Knightley.

This vignette illustrates Regency etiquette. As the highest ranking lady in Highbury Emma Woodhouse has obligations, such as helping the poor and visiting the tiresome chatterbox miss Bates.

The following set of costumes is from ‘Sense and Sensibility’, 1995. This is the big screen adaptation directed by Ang Lee. Emma Thompson wrote the script and was awarded with both a Bafta and an Oscar. She also played Elinor and a young Kate Winslet was Marianne. The cast is very impressive with formidable actors such as Elizabeth Spriggs, Harriet Walter and Hugh Laurie, only to name a few. I always liked the costumes in this version. They were designed by award-winning Jenny Beavan and John Bright.

This is where we can discuss the precarious situation women could find themselves in when the family estate was entailed away on the male line.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Kate Winslet played Marianne and Hugh Grant was Edward Ferrars.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Marianne´s red printed dress and grey redingote. This looks untidy, as I took the photo when the mannequin was dressed. You can see how the dress fastens with small hooks and eyes under the bust.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Marianne´s redingote.

This is when mrs Dashwood and her daughters move to Barton Cottage in Devonshire.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Edward Ferrar´s double-breasted waistcoat and cutaway tailcoat. He wore this outfit many times, including the proposal scene. I arranged the collars and tied the cravats, and was truly impressed by the high quality both in material and execution.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castl

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Standing to the left is Elinor Dashwood´s riding habit. I like how the jacket is constructed in the 18th century manner. The front is folded to shape, and continues to the shoulder seam, see below. I also like how the waist is raised, but not directly under the bust, indicating the transitional silhoutte 1795-1800.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Asuetn costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Sense and Sensibility, 1995. Jane Asuetn costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

The coat and striped waistcoat are actually sewn together. I don´t know how accurate it is. The striped fabric is very similar to Edward´s waistcoat. Perhaps they came from the same manufacturer? Photo by Jens Mohr.

And here they both are, in the beginning of the story, before the Dashwoods move to the cottage and Edward is sent off to mama.

Next we have the Bennets, so over to Longbourn!

The Jane Austen costume exhibition in Skokloster Castle.

Fabulous costumes!

With less than a week before the opening of the Jane Austen exhibition everything is more or less installed, with only some minor adjustments left to be done. (Although enough to keep us busy!)

I am very impressed by the quality of the costumes. A lot of hand sewn seams and delicate materials on the gowns and the coats are properly tailored. Jenny Beavan and Dinah Collins obviously know their business.

Here are only a few samples for all you Jane Austen-fans out there:

Photo by Regencygentleman

Miss Bingley’s evening frock is suitably grand.

Photo by Regencygentleman

One of Miss Marianne Dashwood’s lovely gowns. (Kate Winslet is petite.)

Photo by Regencygentleman

Another beatifully made gown. This one is hardly seen on screen. Can you guess which one it is?