Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Most Epic Parasol Ever

A couple days ago I found a picture of the most epic parasol I had ever seen (here). But now, I have found a parasol that is EVEN MORE EPIC. Don't mind the naked lady. She's only mostly naked anyway. This was painted by Aime-Nicolas Morot, if you care. Seriously, though... WHAT AN EPIC PARASOL! I guess it doesn't even count as a fashion accessory, because you could never carry that thing. I don't even know what it would be for. I guess that's why she's using it as a screen to dress behind. EPIC!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Can't Speak French - Girls Aloud

I love beautiful underwear. It is just too much fun. I recently made a black and white striped corset, and I have another several corset projects in various states waiting to be worked on. I also find the 18th century to be very inspiring. In honor of these things, I urge you to watch the music video for "Can't Speak French," by the British band Girls Aloud. Embedding has been disabled for it, but you can find it easily on youtube. Here are pictures, if you're too lazy to look up the song. The point is the hilarious modernized and impractical 18th century underwear. The music video also includes some men in relatively 18th century coats and wigs. I'm not sure if they count as props or fashion acccessories, but something like that.Isn't that entertaining? It makes me want to wear candy colored underwear all the time. Or something.

Clearly these are not good reproductions of 18th century corsets and underwear, but they are a lot of fun and draw inspiration from the very well-dressed Marie Antoinette. I think the weirdest thing is the cage hoop. I love it, but... why is it round? 18th century, and this is clearly meant to be, is all about the wide hips. I would understand some lovely cage panniers... some kind of oval shaped contraption... but round? I love it anyway, but it makes no sense to me.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Teacup Dresses

So, speaking of tea and dresses... check this out. The designer is Karisia Paponi. This show is "It's Four O'Clock" and it was her 4th year entry in the Antwerp Fashion Academy Show 2009. As is, I think, evident, the clothes are all inspired by teacup designs! Cool... My favorite by far is skirts with the scallop shaping and printing on the edges... can you tell how neat those are? But I also find the big saucer hat to be cool. The saucer jackets are a little much for me...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gilbert and Sullivan Tea

Today I went to a spring tea held by Harvard's Gilbert and Sullivan Players. I've done the costumes for two of theirs shows - a production of Iolanthe and one of the Sorcerer. But as you can see, they are all very well dressed even without any help from me. This event is particularly hat-centric, and you know how much I like hats. Time for pictures!

First of all, here's what I wore. I am very into skirts with trains right now. Always good for tea, of course. And mopping up spilled tea (careful with trains... hahaha).Here I am with a friend (she helped me with the Iolanthe costumes, and also does costuming for other shows on campus).A friend with her fantastic hat, which she made from a far less fantastic hat. I believe that matching the lining of the hat with the coat was a total coincidence, but it looked great. The rest of her outfit was also lovely, especially her beautiful shoes!A particularly dashing gentleman, sporting a lovely pith helmet. He has excellent taste. The room we were in has these big murals on the wall, and I thought he looked particularly good standing in front of them. He even posed!
Another case of (I think) unintentional matching. Check out the bow tie and dress. It was a particularly lovely dress. And you can never go wrong with top hats, mini or otherwise.
The Board... a very classy bunch... know, some of the time...And also some lovely pictures of pretty people enjoying tea.

Also, perhaps the coolest thing of the day was hearing that somebody actually reads this blog. Yay! Feel free to leave comments... I will read them.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the (many) pictures of lovely people, being elegant!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Giant Mechanical Spider

Oh. I want one. Oh please, may I have a giant mechanical spider vehicle? Please? I would ride it to classes, and take it on trips... PLEASE.

This reminds me a great deal of the second book in the Mortal Engines series. If you haven't read them, you certainly should. Anyway, there is a plot line with an underwater city of lost boys who steal from towns and cities (which are mobile and eat each other for resources... municiple darwinism!). These lost boys travel from town to town in limpets, large mechanical ship-type-things, which can move in the water, but extend spider-like legs to walk around on land or ice.

Anyway, the spider's name is La Princesse, and although she was walking around Liverpool, she was operated by FRENCH engineers. See? The French own steampunk.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Walter C. Stritch Hutton - Sisters

I really like the dresses, especially the one on the older girl. Too pretty. I am feeling mildly obsessed by white dresses... especially wifty white turn of the century style dresses. I want pretty white dresses and lots of picnics outside in good weather at which I could wear them. Unfortunately, I have little say in the weather, nobody nice to picnic with, and insufficient white dresses. I will have to do what I can to fix these things.

Also, the younger sister has a cute jump-rope. With my aversion to physical activity, it would be wasted on me, but it is lovely.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lady with a Parasol - Hamilton Hamilton

Now that is a parasol. I want one! It's so huge... big enough to nap under. That is so cool. Unfortunate that it comes with bratty little kids...

I will try to post more interesting things (that is, not just a really beautiful piece of art, although I love really beautiful pieces of art), but I have had a dramatic week of problem sets and exams. Stay tuned for... not art... also more art.... yeah...

An Elegant Lady in a Red Dress

She was painted by Eduardo Leon Garrido, and she is very elegant indeed. First of all, she has a hat and a parasol, both things I love. Second of all, she is sprawled elegantly across a couch, which is one of my favorite things to do. Third, I really like this dress. It has ruffles, and a full skirt, but a very long and interesting silhouette. I also like the red socks to match. I feel inspired.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Wonderful Hats of John Hoppner

John Hoppner was an 18th century portrait painter. Several of his paintings include women in wonderful hats. Let's take a look.

Cecilia c. 1790 - Cute straw bonnet with black trim? Nice

Mary Robinson as Perdita - A lovely asymettrical hat with feathers. Also cool trim on the bodice. She was a British poet/novelist, shown playing the part of Shakespeare's "The Winter Tale" heroine, Perdita. Also, she was George IV's first public mistress. Very nice.

Mary Benwell - Everything about this hat is so wide. It is beautiful.

Mary Boteler - This guy had a thing for Marys. Anyway, this might be my favorite. I just can't get over the double bows (with buckles?) as trim. I sort of want to make this hat.

The Hon. Mrs. Hugo Meynell - I love the way this one lies in the back, and the shallowness of the crown, and the big bow. I love bows!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes, I am in a Hat Phase

I always love hats. But I think I am on a particular hat kick right now... still inspired by Tissot, to some extent. Doesn't she look great with that massive hat? I also adore the white dress and black tights.By the way, she is Maude Baillie by Pilade Bertieri. I can't find anything else out about her, but the year is 1912. I would certainly wear this outfit, though.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

H. Guerault, In the Boudoir

I want a beautiful bed, beautiful pillows, beautiful cat, beautiful nightgown, and beautiful gauzy walls. Too pretty!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Croquet Rules

Another reason that 19th century croquet is much more elegant and wonderful than modern croquet (other than the superior croquet set proportions) is that the game was played differently. Modern croquet, to the best of my knowledge, is played only as an individual. The goal of the game is to get through the wickets and finish before anyone else, and you can croquet any other player out of the way to accomplish this. For anyone who doesn't know - if you hit your ball, and it touches another, you have the opportunity to put your ball next to theirs, put your foot on your ball and hit it. The force travels through your foot-stabalized ball, into the opponent ball, which then goes rolling away. That is a really easy thing to understand in person, but surprisingly difficult to describe verbally.

Anyway, in the 19th century, croquet is played in teams. I feel like this adds a great deal of interest to the game. Some balls you want to croquet away from their goal, but you also want to help the people who are on your team. This sounds much more civilized to me. Also, sometimes you will go through the final wicket. At this point, you could stake-out, finishing the game. If you play as an individual, this is worth doing, because you win. But if you are playing on a team, you can become a "rover" and go around croqueting balls - helping teammates and hurting the opponent team. After all, you can't win until all members of your team stake out.

Doesn't that just sound like a more friendly game? Much more civilized.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Croquet Sets

If you have ever seen a modern croquet set, you might have noticed how different the one from yesterday's post looked. Here is a modern set:I couldn't find a good picture of someone playing with a modern set, to give you a better sense of the proportions. Basically, the head of the mallet is massively long (what I see is usually about a foot long), where our set was less that half that. The handle, however, is significantly shorter on a modern set, causing people to bend over inelegantly when playing. In my opinion, this is really hideous.

The set we used was a wedding gift to my parents, from a family friend that made the set. It is made to specifications in nineteenth century croquet manuals. When you play with this set, you don't have to stoop over awkwardly to make contact with the ball.
So if you have ever felt inelegant when playing croquet, now you know why. Short, ugly mallets with big, ugly heads will make anyone look silly. Unless you are cool enough to be a Heather, I guess...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pine Cone Croquet

Yesterday I went into Harvard Square to drink tea and play croquet, and mostly to look lovely. I wore my fantastic ruffled lilac/white stripe skirt with a train. A friend of mine, back on break from college, made a lovely white trained skirt to wear (really beautiful fabric - it looked lovely) and Mother dug through the closets to help outfit a friend of hers. So here we are, looking lovely with our croquet set.Unfortunately, given how sunny it was and the fact that we are all wearing hats, I have no good pictures of our faces. I mean, certainly not my face. But this looks quite lovely, I think. When we opened the bag with the croquet set, we discovered that there were no wickets! Oops! But we were determined to play, so we improvised... Pine Cone Croquet! Where the object of the game is to hit the pine cone clusters in order. In the final analysis, this is MUCH easier to play than real croquet, because the direction you hit the cones from doesn't matter. The game went very quickly, even though we were all very out of practice, and even despite the divot next to one of our pine cone piles.
I wanted to get a good picture of my skirt in all its half-finished ruffly glory, but none of the pictures really capture how wonderful it is. But here is an entertaining picture of mother's shadow! (I bet it would be a fine picture of me if I were clever enough to crop things, but I am not)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The New Arrival (1881) - Seymour Joseph Guy

Kitten! Also, I love their bows and lace collars. Too adorable!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More of Victoria's Good Hats

I said she had excellent taste in haberdashery, and I stand by that statement. Here is a similar but also lovely swoopy hat with feathers, also on the Duchess of Kent. Or maybe it is the same had, depicted differently, but those feathers look rather different. Regardless, it is lovely. Her dress is nice too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Waiting for Good Weather

Today's weather is miserable. It is super-rainy and there is flooding. On the news, there was an image of a car, supposedly in my town, submerged in water up to the window-shield. Or "windshield" if you prefer. Apparently I've always said the word wrong, and my argument of "But if it is 'windshield' why would they be called 'window-shield wipers'?" hasn't convinced anyone. Doesn't it make sense as a word? It is a window, and you look through it as you drive, but also a shield. It shields you from more than just the wind, so windshield sounds under-descriptive to me. Bah!

Anyway, since I can't read under a tree now, here are some pictures of those who can. Trees are picturesque, pretty dresses are picturesque, and reading is picturesque. Clearly reading under a tree in a pretty dress is a fantastic activity, then.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ooh, What a hat!

I couldn't find this picture anywhere without a watermark - sorry. But this hat is just too incredible to not post. Her name is Victoria May Louise (the woman, not the hat), and she was the Duchess of Kent. She also, it would seem, had FANTASTIC taste in haberdashery! Actually, it is a bit difficult to identify her, because I'm pretty sure the internet has several different names for her (Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Mary Louise Victoria, Victoria Mary Louisa). In the final analysis, I'm fairly confident that this is Queen Victoria's mother. I don't really know why she has so many names. Regardless, I don't really care about her as much as I care about the hat. What a stunning hat! All big and curvy-brimmed. And with those incredible feathers! I need feathers.
Oh, and she was painted by George Henry Harlow, if that matters to you. All that matters to me is THAT FANTASTIC HAT!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello

This is not French, but it is the epitome of beautiful haunting steampunky loveliness. Seriously, invest the 20 minutes in watching it. The animation style is incredible. The whole thing is just ridiculously beautiful. I can't even say anything more than that. Watch, now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Emily Loizeau

I say it again - the French are good at Steampunk. If you live in a super mechanical old fashioned looking carousel, you might be Steampunk. If you sound like a demented music box, you might be Steampunk.

This is another song of Mother's, but I have stolen it! Seriously, I think this would make the best dance choreography. Listen carefully - it is part normal waltz (3 or 6 steps, depending on how you think of it... we say 6, usually), but also part 5 step waltz. So bizarre, but wonderful! This means you could never use this music for social dancing. People would get very confused by the transitions, even if they knew five step waltz (not something I would count on). But you could do it as a performance, with dancers who knew the transitions were coming. I have a number of ideas for a choreography, but as yet no dancers to do these choreographies. I will continue looking for them, I suppose.

I turn everything into dance terms. If you don't care, then this is wonderful listening music. If you do care, you will just have to hold your breath until I unleash this as a Steampunk dance performance. Well, don't literally hold your breath... but figuratively. One day...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tais Toi Mon Coeur

More evidence that Steampunk is French. Not all of the songs by this band (Dionysos) are what I would call Steampunk. Actually, some of them sound very Elvis inspired, except a hilariously awkward French-accented Elvis. Fantastic.

Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that this song is Steampunk, with a capital S! It is all clanky and mechanical sounding, and has a lovely accompanying video with fashions pillaged from history, a parasol, and gears. If that is not Steampunk, please tell me what is. And don't tell me that it is Particularly-Well-Dressed-Ex-Goth-Bands-That-Claim-To-Be-Steampunk-But-Have-Only-A-Couple-Songs-With-Genuinely-Steampunk-Styling-Rather-Than-A-Recycled-Goth-Bellydancing-Sound. I really mean no offense to such very well dressed and no longer Goth bands, but I feel very strongly about the necessity for clank-ines or a little historical inspiration in my Steampunk music, not just a lovely wardrobe for performing. Steampunk music ought to sound like a demented music box. At least, that is what I say. I have heard some lovely individual songs that are intended to be Steampunk (or, like this one, not explicitly intended but pretty clearly so), but I am not convinced that the world has any truly Steampunk bands. Yet. I will keep my eyes peeled.

Isn't that just wonderful, though? Really lovely. By the way, credit to my mother for finding this. It is sometimes embarrassing how cool she is, or at least embarrassing that she finds cooler things than I do. She's had more practice, I guess.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Morgan M Morgansen's Date with Destiny

This is... weird. But pretty. The narration is truly strange, but entertaining, and the settings look positively steampunk to me. I mean, anything that starts with a dirigible in the sky is going to be somewhat steampunk. Pay attention at about 4:28. It is really quick, but take a look at the moon. Familiar?

As for other observations, I like the word "personette." This should be adopted into normal speech.

"For me, the body of a bunny baby, if you please."
"And how would you preferate your bunny baby, sir? Black, brown, or bleedy?"


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steampunk... Smashing Pumpkins

Embedding has been disabled on this really beautiful video, so you'll have to look it up for yourself. It is the music video for "Tonight, Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins. Really, go watch it now. Here are stills to tempt you!

To be honest, the music doesn't impress me in particular. But the music video impresses me VERY much. Isn't it beautiful? And shockingly familiar (see yesterday's post).

Notice that they added a girl. This is always a good idea, I think. It is my understanding that a lot of film adaptations of Jules Verne books add a heroine where there was none. Similarly, the original Trip to the Moon has only male participants, but the Smashing Pumpkins took a girl. And why? Because she has lovely clothing that is fun to look at! I am glad when people realize how important it is to have a well-dressed heroine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Steampunk is French - "Le voyage dans la lune"

"Le voyage dans la lune" is generally regarded at the first science fiction film. It was made in 1902 by a french filmmaker, Georges Melies. It is based loosely on two novels by Verne and Welles (From the Earth to the Moon, and The First Men in the Moon), and it is wonderfully old fashioned. Therefore, I would argue that it counts as some of the earliest Steampunk as well. Or at the least proto-steampunk, the way that Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are themselves not exactly steampunk, because they come by their victorian-isms so honestly.

My mother has said that the French have been doing Steampunk longer than anyone else. I do not think she really meant this throw-away comment to be seriously argued, and I'm pretty sure she didn't have a voyage to the moon in mind, but there it is. Very early Steampunk. And for the record, Jules Verne, one of the ultimate inspirations for Steampunk, is French. Stay tuned for more French Steampunk in the next couple of days... As well as non-French Steampunk.

Anyway, as the oldest science fiction movie (and oldest Steampunk movie? Yes?), it is an important educational experience to watch this film. Plus, it is adorable.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Princess Elvira

Princess Elvira of Bavaria was born in 1868 and died in 1943, so I am not precisely sure what the date on this jacket would be, but I am rather in love with it. The painting is "Prinzessin Elvira von Bayern mit Freundin" by Karl Gampenrieder.
Now, here are some actual pictures of her. Neither of those girls look particularly like her, I think, so I don't know whether I can trust it as an accurate source for the jacket. But I do love it. The hair is kind of stupid, though.

Some of those are a bit odd, like the picture posing in vaguely 18th century clothing. There is something weird going on in the penultimate picture - bobbles on the bodice? Cool. The last one looks much later and she must be older, but I rather like it so I included it. I love the beaded features over the hips.