The Grand Skokloster Ball

It is that time of year again. It has become a tradition to arrange the Stockholm Empire days over a weekend in August. There is a picnic, afternoon tea, a dance practice, culminating in the ball. It isn´t as spectacular as the Jane Austen festivals in Bath or Kentucky, but we do attract a growing number of enthusiasts. We decided to repeat last years success and had the ball again at Skokloster Castle, where I work, so I was actually paid to organise it. Terrific, but it meant that I was unable to attend the other events.

Anyway, this is the castle:

Skokloster Castle is a Baroque masterpiece outside of Stockholm. It is one of the best preserved seventeenth century castles that is around, and was on New York Times list of 53 must-see places with the likes of The Pyramids and Taj Mahal!

We released the ball tickets in May, and the lion´s share sold out quite fast. The guests were not only from Sweden, but from the neighbouring countries and as far away as North Carolina! I will not bother you with the caterers, renting china, bus transfers, etc, but it was my main focus after the vacation.

Following photos were taken by Viveka Edit Sjölund, who was appointed to official event photographer.

When the castle had closed for the day, and the tourists were gone, the guests started to arrive. I quickly changed to full dress: black silk tailcoat and breeches, ruffled shirt, cravat, white waistcoat and stockings, and pumps. (You can see me here and there in the photographs below.) Chilled prosecco was served in the outer courtyard:

Mingling in front of the castle

Speeches and thank yous on the front steps. This group of amazing people contributed each and one of them in different, invaluable ways.

Group picture! Over 100 guests!

The program comprised of four dance sets, with three to four dances in every set. If you ever attended a historical ball you know that one dance can actually go on indefinitely, or at least a quarter of an hour, so that is about four, five hours of dancing in one evening!

The gallery is perfect for dancing longways, as in Playford´s country dances. (“Contre dance”.)

Perfection!

Even more perfection! The level was impressive this year.

This is so funny! Looks like a still from a Jane Austen film, doesn´t it?

The ground floor gallery is very grand with its vaulted ceilings and columns in Italian marble:

Dinner was served halfway through the ball. This is only one of three tables! We opened up the state apartments upstairs for a peek while the musicians tuned their instruments and our staff cleared the tables and prepared coffee and the dessert buffet. (Which was almost overwhelming!)

The ball continued with the next set of dances. I think this is the Duke of Kent´s Waltz, but I could be wrong…

A well-deserved rest in the portico.

I tried to join one or two dance in every set, but not as many as I intended. I´m afraid I didn´t chat enough with guests and friends either! (Meanwhile: ugly wiring! This is the only part of the castle with electricity, and it was not always installed with fingerspitzengefühl.)

The courtyard.

Gently euphoric at two o´clock in the morning, not particularily tired but with sore feet.

It was a magic evening! (And to me the best mix of business and pleasure.) I hope you can feel the atmosphere through the photos. Now when it is over I can´t help feeling a hint of post-event blues.

 

 

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New neckwear for the ball

Welcome to Regency gentleman! Several half-hearted posts on this blog were never written due to a hectic summer and the extreme heat wave.

Regencygentleman

Looking very calm only minutes before the ball…

I will share some gorgeous pictures from the ball, but first, some of the work that was carried out in order to make it happen.

Photo by Regencygentleman

No, I will not bother you with the sweat and drudgery that goes into preparing for a ball in a Baroque palace.

Photo by Regencygentleman

Nor the brains and muscles required when moving a harpsichord.

Let us take a closer look at some costuming instead. It would have been nice to make something more spectacular, such as a new pair of white satin breeches, but my schedule and level of energy did not allow it. I did however update my look over a couple of evenings prior to the ball by sewing a new cravat. Not only that, but a stock to go with it, with the aid of a shirt ruffle.

My intention was to use linen (more historically accurate), but the one I had was not fine enough. I am aware that it is probably fashion forward, but I opted for some fine cotton batiste:

Photo by Regencygentleman

I´ve been meaning to make a stock for ages. Better late than never! You can read more about this type of neckwear here. I cut enough of the batiste to just go around my neck. The height ended up about the same size, so basically a square. I hemmed the top and bottom edges. Then i ran a gathering stitch on both ends, and gathered the cotton to the required height, about three inches:

Photo by Regencygentleman

Gathering the ends.

These gathers are kept in place by narrow tabs. The stock was fastened with a buckle, hooks or buttons. I didn´t have time for that and quickly stitched some cotton tape to the ends:

Photo by Regencegentleman

Like so…

The new cravat didn’t need the same width as my old ones, so i cut it about two inches wide, and hemmed all edges. You can see a glimpse of it above.

Another strip of the cotton batiste was hemmed (took me longer than expected!) and gathered, then secured to some cotton tape, and basted to the front of my shirt. A ruffle!

With all pieces assembled it looked like this:

Photo by Regencygentleman

Cravat, stock, and ruffle. Ready for the ball!

It was a fun and easy project, and comfortable to wear. Before next wearing I´ll starch everything to achieve a crispier effect, though.

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

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

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.

The Costumes have arrived!

Photo by Regencygentleman

Yesterday these boxes arrived. They are not just any boxes. They contained the legendary costumes that will go on display, carefully packed on top of hatboxes and heavier shoes and boots.

Our textile conservators started to unpack them and I tried not to drool too much, but took a few quick photos. Starting today, they will be steamed if needed and mounted on to mannequins.  I will keep you posted.

Photo by Regencygentleman
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The Jane Austen Exhibition

Photo: Jens Mohr, LSH

We have hectic days at work now with everything that needs to be done before the palace gates open again in May. The conservators are spring cleaning the state apartments, the shop is stocked with new goods, guides are being hired, and countless other things. Perhaps you remember me mentioning some time ago that the summer exhibition is Jane Austen? The focus will be thirty costumes (supplied by Cosprop in London) as seen in Pride and Prejudice (1995), Sense and Sensibility (1995), Persuasion (1995), Emma (1996 and 2009), and Pride & Prejudice (2005). We are also digging out a handful of not too shabby historical costumes from the museum collections.

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Serious drama going on here.

Today is exactly two months before the opening. The press release and pictures were made public a few weeks ago. Here is an excerpt from the English version (not my translation):

Beautiful scenery surrounds the film costumes worn by actors such as Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Costumes for many people forever linked with characters such as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. In the Jane Austen’s world exhibition, these characters open the doors to tales of the lifestyle, dilemmas and fashions during the early 1800s.

Magnificent costumes in a historical setting
The costumes are presented in the castle’s guest suites, furnished with objects from the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is a unique opportunity to experience parts of the castle which are not normally open to the general public. The objects on display include the fantastic bridal gown worn by Marianne Dashwood (played by Kate Winslet) from the film Sense and Sensibility and not least the once soaked shirt worn by Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth) in the BBC series of Pride and Prejudice. The historical setting of Skokloster Castle is a perfect stage for the exhibition, which presents a period coloured by magnificent clothing, narrow female spheres and strict etiquette.

Jane Austen – always current
Jane Austen is one of the world’s most read authors, and her almost 200-year old novels are more popular than ever, with new editions, interpretations, dramatisations and film versions of her works being released constantly. In her novels, Austen succeeds in combining an easy style with sharp social criticism concealed beneath emotionally charged intrigue.

‘Jane Austen was a perceptive observer of the strict social patterns that permeated the privileged social class to which she belonged. Austen’s young heroines struggle against and with the limitations of their period. For many women, marriage was the only opportunity way they could support themselves. And just like in her books, women are at the centre of Jane Austen’s world. Marriage as a guarantor of the survival of the family is a theme that also forms part of the history of Skokloster Castle. In the exhibition, you can also follow the “Meanwhile at Skokloster” track, which presents a number of women at Skokloster’, explains Annika Williams, curator of the exhibition at Skokloster Castle.

This summer, Skokloster Castle is offering a range of programme activities related to the exhibition, including themed viewings, lectures, a picnic in the castle grounds, Regency dancing, costume displays, a ball and afternoon teas with guest speakers. All in the true spirit of Jane Austen. Guided tours every day.

How about that! If you wish to know more, follow this link.

My co-workers are absolutely wonderful and their dedication to Jane Austen and the Regency era is impressive. At times we indulge in a veritable nerd-fest, I am afraid.

The gorgeous promotion photos accompanying today´s post were taken by our photographer, Jens Mohr. It took considerable time to agree on what type of pictures we wanted in terms of style and atmosphere. We definitely wanted to show a strong and confident young lady, one that might take matters in her own hands instead of passively waiting for a suitor.

You cannot see, but the temperature was near freezing in the state appartments back in early February when Elinor and I tried to look our best in Regency finery, or at least tried to stop shaking… They say the camera puts on extra weight, but it certainly does not help when one is wearing a warm sweater under waistcoat and all. (In hindsight I know I should not have worn it.) Of course Elinor, poor thing, was lovely in the summery open robe and sheer linen dress, channelling her inner Lizzie Bennet. She also managed to not attract pneumonia. Or so I believe. I presented the two gowns here.

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Photo by Jens Mohr, LSH

Next time I will write about which gentlemen´s costumes that will go on display in the exhibition.

Oh, and we have released tickets to the Jane Austen ball in August, and the rest of the programmes. It is going to be so much fun! (And hard work.)

Masked ball à la Romaine

Come March and 225 years since the fatal shot in Ballo in Maschera, the masked ball where king Gustaf III was assassinated by plotting aristocrats. To commemorate this event a masked ball set in 1792 is organized in March every year. Despite the grim reason the ball is fun so I really wanted to attend, regardless of heavy workload and fatigue.

With all my sewing going on I really did not need to start a new project and thought I´d reuse something old. But lo and behold, I struck gold at work! Up in the palace attic, stowed away in a dust covered cardboard box, was not only one but half a dozen sapphire blue and gold tunics! They are 1990s replicas of a theatre costume from 1672 that is in our collection. (Link to the database here.)

Half a dozen tunics!

After some quick research I devised a plan. Fancy dress “à la Romaine”, to dress as a Roman god or emperor, was popular during the Renaissance and Baroque, among court dancers and other performers but among monarchs in particular. This I could do without too much effort.

A well known example: Louis XIV as the Sun King. Château de Versailles.

One of the Swedish monarchs: An allusion of a triumphant Charles XI on horse back, painting by J K Ehrenstrahl, 1674. Skokloster Castle.

I now had the tunic. (They were all in – how can I put it- well-worn state. I think i managed to choose the one that was in the best condition.) I used my regular shirt, golden stockings, and opera pumps. White mask and powdered wig from last year and to finish it off I glue-gunned a coronet from metallic paper to support my ostrich feathers. Ét voilá!

The tunic was somewhat soiled but careful ironing did the trick.

A cloak, secured to the shoulders with two brooches, added some drama and it very conveniently hid the safety pins that were necessary to achieve a decent fit. The piece of matching fabric (Acetate? Silk taffeta?) draped well. I found it in a bag filled with odd scraps of fabric.

My opera pumps were temporarily upgraded with a large bow and some trim in metallic paper topped with a glass bead.

The ball was magnificent! The white mask and large ostrich feathers is me trying to see my feet… Photo credit Fernando Orellana.

My 1790s wig from last year and a contraption I made from metallic paper and glass beads, to accommodate my ostrich feathers. (If you, dear readers, say I remind you of a roaring twenties flapper – minus earrings and eyelashes, I will be most seriously displeased. I assure you, this was regarded as super manly.)

There was some operatic entertainment between dances. Here is the dance programme:

Doing my best eighteenth century Roman god (Apollo? Zephyr?) impression.

Later we moved upstairs to enjoy decadently delicious refreshments. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

Yours truly was starving by now. Photo credit Fernando Ortellana.

These dames could be Marie Antoinette´s ladies-in-waiting while at Le Petit Trianon.

My Regency chums Ylva and Jacob.

Would you believe it: to my surprise I was awarded a prize for one of the best costumes! It was a jar of locally produced honey. Tasty indeed!

 

 

The Empire days of 2016

August and September were hectic months (in a good way!) so there was no time to blog, but – take my word – I wanted to. I even had to decline an organised outing (in Regency attire) to watch the new film Love and Friendship. Besides the official photographs from the festival are stuck somewhere, and I was not taking that many pictures. For this post I was able to rely on friends who generously allowed me to use their photos!

Back in November last year I was invited to join the organising group. I did not have to think twice before accepting, as I thought it would be great fun. (And a perfect excuse to meet with a terrific group of people on a regular basis. Who would say no to that?)

We only made a few minor changes, so the programme was similar to last year. This year´s theme was Love. (What else?) So the music was particularily romantic, and the dance programme included many particularily romantic dances such as The Duke of Kent´s Waltz. The Empire days started with a dance-class on Thursday evening. I was occupied elsewhere, but I believe it was useful for those who needed to practise their dancing skills. I am by no means an expert, so various clips on youtube came in handy.

Friday was ball night. As one of the organisers I was early at the venue for preparations. One of my assignments was to set up a small exhibition in the parlour. I have blogged about it before, so I will not go into details, but the atmosphere in the historical manor house, Kristinehof, is unique.

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The ball started with a glass of bubbly in the courtyard.

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A Wedding breakfast in the parlour. Anders wrote most of the texts for those who wanted to learn more about courtship, wedding, and married life in the early nineteenth century.

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My contribution was to set the table for a wedding reception. This era saw the rise in popularity for intimate but elegant wedding ceremonies, often at home, with a few select guests mingling over tea, cake, wine, and sweets. We served bisquits, candied rose-petals and lilacs on East-Indian porcelain. An imported pineapple was extravagant.

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An ouverture before the first dance. Eager dancers listening to lovely tunes from the orchestra in the ball room.

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The orchestra and Mrs Löfgren, our Dance Master. Photo courtesy of Ulrika Rosander.

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Quadrille!

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Our photographer, Miss Lillemor. Photo courtesy of Ulrika Rosander.

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There was dinner and desserts! Photo courtesy of Olof Rosengren.

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Saturday was picknick-day. We met up in the Haga-park, one of the royal gardens. There was no fixed time. People could chose to stay throughout the day or only drop by. I needed a sleep in and had to rest my tired feet, so I was what could be described as “fashionably late”. It was the first outing for my new pantaloons and the striped waistcoat.

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The Echo Temple (1790) is perfect for dancing.

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Picknick and mingle on the lawn. Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

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Miss Annelie and the crocquet cart. Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

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There were many of us on the lawn in front of the Royal pavilion. Photo courtesy of Keit Svensson.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

The centre of events: dancing in The Echo Temple. One of the few full length views of my new pantaloons and waistcoat. (The pantaloons look baggy, but i assure you they were not.) Photo courtesy of Jenny Björkquist.

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And Vilhelm brought his harpsicord. (The rustic one in his collection.)

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The August night was dark but warm…

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… but it was nevertheless nice with a cup of tea. It is always nice with a cup of tea…

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Rain was pouring down on Sunday, so we moved the second picknick to our friends house.

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After lunch we cleared the dining room to make room for some more dancing.

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Photo courtesy Paula Krumlinde.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, I certainly had! This year I took time to actually engage in conversation – there were so many nice people to talk to. It is always interesting to discuss Jane Austen and share costume ideas, but of course there is much more beyond those obvious topics.

This post was not so much about costuming and sewing projects. There is more to come in that department later this year…

The 2016 Empire Days

A quick update: The annual festival is over, and what can I say? It was marvellous. I think everyone is happy but exhausted. 

This is one of the magical things we did:
 
There is more to come as soon as I have sorted my photographs!