Painted Silk…

One of the more interesting methods of embellishing skirts during the late 19th Century was the use of hand-painting floral decorate motifs primarily on silk. Although not as common as other methods such as taking on silk flowers or using fabrics with various types of woven-in patterns and motifs, painted silk did offer a somewhat easier, more inexpensive method of of creating decorative embellishment. Below is nice example from  the Fashion History Museum of Ontario of a mid to late 1880s day dress (it’s hard to tell from the staging):

Day Dress, c. 1880s; Fashion History Museum Ontario

It’s difficult to tell an exact date for the dress since there was no information on the museum website but judging from the silhouette, such as it us, it appears to be mid to late 1880s . The bodice and skirts are constructed from a pale blue silk satin which provides the perfect “canvas” for the detailed floral motifs which we see on both the bodice and the overskirt. The floral motifs provide an interesting range of greens, yellows, oranges, and reds all set against a cool blue background that’s reminiscent of water. Definitely just the thing for Spring. 🙂

Somewhat more restrained, here’s a wedding dress, from 1888:

Wedding/Day Dress, 1888; Ohio State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection (HCT.1999.19.1a-d)

This dress bodice and skirts are constructed from an ivory wool with silk side panels and lace covers the front underskirt. Visually, the eye is first attracted to the two panels with the painted floral motifs and then drawn upward to the silk plastron on the bodice. Here are some close-ups of the painted floral motifs:

The use of painted flower motifs on silk is an interesting, subset of decorative effects that were used on fashions of the late 19th Century and it bears further study and hopefully we’ll unearth some more examples for your consideration in the near future.

 

 

Off To The FIDM Museum

Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition

T

oday we decided to get out of the house and make our annual pilgrimage to the 27th Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at the FIDM Museum and enjoy the sunny weather in Downtown Los Angeles. First impressions? From a purely historical perspective, there wasn’t a lot going on this year. However, that said, there was a variety of exciting designs and being able to view the costumes up close in person was fascinating.

First up, are two from the movie Aquaman:

 

This is completely outside of what we do but just the combination of colors caught our eye and they definitely suggest an ocean environment. And speaking of color, here’s a gown from Ocean’s Eight:

The magenta/pink dress color just screams “shocking” in the Schiaparelli tradition and it’s a visual treat to look at. The combination gown with cape is amazing and it’s definitely an eye-catcher. The embroidery was especially striking although we were unable to get a close view of the train. Here’s some more:

Just for contrast, here’s another exquisite gown from the movie but only in shades of green:

The display lighting washes out the shades of green somewhat but trust me, in person they are deep jewel tones and the contrast between the magenta/pink of the first gown and this one is amazing.

Shifting gears a bit, we came across the Old West in the form of several outfits from The Ballad of Buster Scruggs:

In contrast to Ocean’s Eight, the wardrobe here is down to earth, practical, and perfectly fitting with the Old West, with the exception of Buster Scrugg’s outfit which was meant to stand out larger than life.

Image result for legend of buster scruggs

And then for something a bit more fantastical, there are these outfits from the remake of Mary Poppins Returns:

Because the lighting wasn’t the best, here’s a better view of this outfit that we lifted off the net:

And then there’s this outfit:

Image result for mary poppins 2018

The styles are certainly interesting, more of an Edwardian “esq” style that anything that’s necessary period correct but hey, it’s meant to be fantastical so there you are. In keeping with the fantastical nature of the movie, here’s some more:

And just for completeness, the costume sketch:

At first, we weren’t sure of what we were looking at- much of the detail on these two outfits was actually painted on, especially for the  women’s dress where all the ruffles are actually painted on. Really! It fooled us at first. After doing a little research, we found out that these were part of an animated/live action musical number in the movie (we haven’t actually seen the movie so we apologize for any omissions). Finally one style note on the above women’s dress- it’s actually more reminiscent of a 1880s style than Edwardian. 🙂

Finally, we conclude with this simple walking outfit from Colette:

Probably the most “historical” of the outfits we viewed (that fits into the 19th Century) and it’s the quintessential day outfit characteristic circa 1900. Here it is from the movie itself, at least for the jacket and skirt:

This has been a somewhat subjective account of our excursion and we freely admit that with the exception of The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Colette, we haven’t seen any of the other movies but we fully intend to in the future. Hopefully 2019 will see some more period pieces released. 🙂

 

Costume College 2019

It’s official! I’m pleased to announce that I will be once again teaching at Costume College for 2019. Held annually in late July, Costume College is an event devoted to costuming in its many forms, whether historical, fantasy, or somewhere in between. Classes and presentations consist of both lecture and hands-on workshop formats and are all taught by volunteers. For the past several years, I’ve been giving presentations on various aspects of costume to include American Army uniforms of the WWI Era, Paul Poiret, and Couture of the 19th and early 20th Century.

This year I will be reprising my Paul Poiret presentation (revised and expanded) as well as presentations on designers Charles Frederick Worth and Elsa Schiaparelli. When I presented the class on Schiaparelli last year, it was definitely outside our comfort zone but in it was well received and one of the attendees had even recreated Schiaparelli’s iconic Lobster Dress 🙂 :

One of the fundamentals of our design philosophy is that here at Lily Absinthe, we are interested in all eras of fashion and as such, we draw inspiration for all eras when it fits the particular design objective we may have in mind and especially when it comes to designers who came after the Belle Epoch.

Image result for dali schiaparelli

Schiaparelli in particular has always been a source of fascination for both Karin and I in that she combined the shocking and outrageous with the practical and down-to-earth ranging from surrealist-inspired shoe-hats and immaculately tailored suits and elegant evening dresses. Moreover, we’re fans of her widespread use of pink- she even has a distinct shade of pink she named “shocking pink.” 🙂

Image result for shocking pink schiaparelli

July is a ways away but I’ll be busily preparing my presentations and it promises to be an exciting time. More to follow! 🙂

 

Clockwork Alchemy- The Fashion Show

It’s Tuesday morning and Clockwork Alchemy 2019 is a wrap. Somewhat belated is a brief glimpse of the fashion show itself. Unfortunately, because we were actively working as models, we were unable to obtain any pictures so we’ve had to secure them from other sources. So here’s a brief overview… 🙂


It’s showtime! Yes, it’s on! After a morning or dressing the models, it was finally time to hit the stage, so to say. The set-up was actually a rotating display between a series of stations, an arrangement designed to create a good traffic flow that would avoid bunching up. Since we were directly involved in the proceedings, we were unable to get any pictures so we’re going to have to rely on others… 🙂 Here are just a few:

And finally, here’s a group portrait of all the participants in the fashion (Note: not all of these were our models):

It was a good time and it gave us an opportunity to meet a lot of very talented people and we look forward to doing this in the future.