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. 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.

Kate Winslet played Marianne and Hugh Grant was Edward Ferrars.

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

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

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.

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.

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!

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5 thoughts on “Jane Austen´s World

  1. Pingback: Jane Austen´s World, part 2 | Regencygentleman

  2. Pingback: Jane Austen´s World, part 3 | Regencygentleman

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