Shopping at the Royal Opera

Sometimes I forgo my principles. Like this week when I bought ready made clothes. (Yes, why make life complicated, you might think!) It all started when the costume department at the Royal Opera in Stockholm announced a sale of a large number of costumes, in fact the largest ever. It was everywhere in the morning shows and the papers, which meant that uncountable costumiers, reenactors, bloggers, theatre enthusiasts and others would try their luck. So did I, hoping to find a decent hat and perhaps a waistcoat. I left for an early lunch break and joined the crowds. The grand foyer was filled with row upon row of garments hanging on tidily labelled racks. I spotted all sorts of clothes from magnificent Renaissance costumes to ordinary t-shirts and chinos. It was a bonus to meet several friends and acquaintances, and we compared our lucky finds.

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So what did I find? Well, no hat, anyway. (Most of them were impossible modern caps or flowery “Edwardian” things from the 1960’s.)

I did find a terrific black wool coat that could be everything from 18th century to late Victorian (depending on styling). (It was actually designed in 2009 for a modern/fantasy/half-period version of Verdi’s opera Macbeth.) I have not decided what to do with it. It might not even enter the Regency wardrobe. But in excellent condition and only £19!

The coat

The Macbeth coat

 

The coat: back

The  Macbeth coat: back

Trying the coat

Trying the coat

What I most definitely will be using with Regency attire is a lovely cream coloured waistcoat in uncut velvet and silk moire with gilt buttons. The label reveals it was designed in the 1980’s for a ballet production of the classic Swedish novel, Gösta Berling’s Saga. The story is set in a country house in the 1820’s. (Trivia: The book was filmed in 1924 with a young Greta Garbo, just before she left for Hollywood.) It shows signs of wear an needs cleaning but still worth more than the £5 I paid!

Posing in the waistcoat. Ignore the shirt in all its pinkishness and everything else that is going on.

Posing in the waistcoat. Ignore the shirt in all its pinkishness and everything else that is going on in this photo.

On the hanger...

On the hanger…

Back view of the waistcoat. Notice well made strap.

Back view of the waistcoat. Notice well made strap.

Closeup of the lovely buttons

Closeup of the lovely buttons.

I was lucky in the shoe department as well! Three (3!) pairs of vintage leather opera pumps/court shoes in my size for less than what I pay for cake and a pot of tea! A shopping spree of fenomenal dimensions (for being me)!

Shoes!

Shoes!

Opera pumps. The finest of the three.

Opera pumps. The finest of the three, but also the most worn.

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Labelled “Lavorazione Artigiana” (hand made) on the leather sole.

Opera pumps 2. The newest pair.

Opera pumps # 2. The newest pair. Might sell them.

 

Pair 3. Seems to be the oldest pair. No bow, and really not opera pumps but have a Regency feel to them.

Pair # 3. Seems to be the oldest pair. No bow, and really not opera pumps but have a Regency feel to them. Do you agree?

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Filming…

I know, the Jane Austen festival just started in Bath. The Promenade took place only hours ago. I envy all you fortunate people who are there! Oh well another year. I have managed to be busy on my own, though. Last weekend was spent in Regency clothes. Again. You see how happy I was.

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We were filming a new series called Kvalitet (“Quality”) for Swedish television. Different episodes will investigate the meaning of quality – what we wear, how much money and time we are prepared to spend on clothes, etc. You all know most of our clothes are manufactured in countries like Bangladesh and China. The health of the workers and the environment is at great risk when handling toxic chemicals in the dyeing process and pesticides are used in cotton fields as well as large quantities of water… Is it better to spend money on few but better quality – and therefore long lasting – garments? Recycling? Vintage?

Where does your Regency Gentleman fit into all of this? Well, how did people manage to be (well) dressed one, two or three generations ago?  Or during war rationings? I was there to talk about my interest in recreating clothes from the past. Handstitching. Where to find fabrics. Inspiration. Research.

The show’s host is Camilla Thulin, a famous fashion and costume designer, celebrity stylist as well as an arbiter of taste. And she is always incredibly well dressed.

Day one we were shooting in a museum-apartment (where time stopped in 1937 – so I couldn´t help feeling a little bit overdressed). We had coffee and a male sewing club, sort of. It was staged but we had small sewing projects to fiddle on while talking. Adam and I were representing Regency-fashions. Severin is a professionally trained tailor and he the fourth guest Stefan both collect vintage suits from the early 1900´s and they actually wear them on a every day basis.

Day two a taxi collected me and drove me to Haga, the park I wrote about in the picknick-post.  It was a lovely day so it was a joy to sit outside in nice company. We continued our sewing in a beautiful gazebo as Camilla was filmed talking to the viewers. After many shots from various angles we changed to the final segment: us parading on the lawn as a group and individually in different outfits. No trailer in sight so we changed nearby in the small café. The filming was very relaxed and we all had a great weekend. The show will air in October-November. It remains to be seen if we all end up on the cutting room floor…

The crew getting ready for filming.

The crew getting ready for filming. Camilla Thulin in a vintage dress from 1930-something.


Selfie

I managed to take a selfiewith  the other gentlemen in the background.


Photo by Severin Gottsén

Caught with my phone. Stefan in a well tailored suit from 1930-40, if I remember it correctly. Photo by Severin Gottsén.


Adam in Regency attire. Photo by Camilla Thulin.

Adam in Regency attire. Photo by Camilla Thulin.


Me playing with the dog Musse. Photo by CAmilla Thulin.

Me playing with Camilla´s dog Musse. Photo by Camilla Thulin.

Visit Camilla´s blog here!