Helldorado Days 2018

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It’s October and that means Helldorado Days in Tombstone! This year, Helldorado is scheduled on October 19 through October 21, 2018 and the high point of the event is the parade to he held on Sunday October 21. First started in 1928 to publicize the town, Helldorado is held on the third Sunday of October and commemorates the town’s early years and especially that 30-second gunfight that took place somewhere close by to the OK Corral. We’ll be meeting with clients and otherwise working on some projects and having a little fun. See you there! 🙂

 

Achieving The Look – The Underlying Structure…

Styles are defined by their silhouette and nowhere is this more evident in the styles of the 1870s and 1880s which were built upon skirts being draped towards the rear and supported by a supporting structure known as the bustle (also known as the tournure). As described previous in this previous posts and others, the size and positioning of the train might have varied but the overall effect was still the same. So how was this achieved? Simply, draping fabric and fastening to the rear only works with the lightest of fabrics, in almost all cases support is required and that’s where the bustle came into play. Bustles varied in styles and shapes and were made from various materials, ranging from ones constructed of elaborate steel cage structures to ones that were little more than a pillow.

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A somewhat simplified chart depicting the three major Bustle Era styles.

Below is a selection of some of the bustle styles that were out there during the 1870s and 1880s:

Bustles The Galliera Museum – the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

The above examples show two of the more common bustle styles, the “lobster” and the pillow. The “lobster” style gets its name from its resemblance to a lobster shell and was held rigid by steel boning or reeds.

Here’s a semi-rigid example from the 1870s (probably more mid-1870s):

Bustle c. 1870s

Bustle, c. 1870s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2008.89)

Bustle c. 1870s

The above style employed a fabric shell, typically made of a tightly woven cotton fabric with steel boning or reeds. This style was also common during the 1880s:

Bustle 1883

Bustle, 1883; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.23.3)

Bustle 1883

Side Profile

The above example is interesting in that while it’s similar to the 1870s example, it differs at the top where a large pad has also been installed- no doubt to help create the more sharply defined silhouette characteristic of the Late Bustle Era dresses such as this one:

Evening Dress c. 1884 -1886

Evening Dress, American or European, c. 1884 – 1886, silk; The Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.63.23.3a, b)

Here’s another typical example from 1885 that employs an open cage-like structure made from flexible steel bones secured by tape strips:

Bustle 1885

Bustle, 1885; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.3095)

Bustle 1885

Side Profile

Bustle 1885

Interior

Steel or reed boning where not the only materials in use as demonstrated by this 1873 example utilizing horsehair padding:

Bustle 1873

Bustle, 1873; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2002.251)

Bustle 1873

The idea of the bustle creating the dress silhouette can especially be seen from this example:

Bustle 1870 - 1888

Bustle, c. 1870 – 1888; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1972.209.48)

Bustle 1870 - 1888

The example below is especially fascinating in that its shape dates it: late 1870s, most likely circa 1878 – 1880 (although the museum has is labeled 1870 – 1888). Note that the silhouette is slender from the waist to mid-way down and then flares out in the demi-train style that was characteristic of the later 1870s such as with these examples:

Day Dress 1878

Side Profile

Day Dress 1880

Side Profile

The above bustle examples are on the complex side and could almost be considered works of art on their own. However, there were more simple designs out there such as various types of pads:

Bustle c. 1895 - 1905

Bustle, c. 1895 – 1905; Metropolitan Museum of Art (C.I.44.48.8)

Bustle Pad 1875

Bustle Pad, made from linen and stuffed with horse hair. Victoria & Albert Museum (T.57-1980)

Bustle Pad c. 1885

Bustle Pad, French, c. 1885 Glazed calico trimmed with silk cord and stuffed with what appears to be straw; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.337-1978)

And there were some other interesting designs:

Bustle 1884

Bustle, Steel Frame, c. 1884; Victoria & Albert Museum (T.131C-1919).

Bustle 1880s

Bustle, 1880s

Bustle 1871

British, c. 1871. Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.27.4)

The above examples are only a small sampling of what was available and no matter what style a bustle came in, its primary job was to support the dress and help define its shape. When we reproduce 1870s and 1880s fashions, we are constantly mindful of the supporting structures that are necessary for wearing these fashions in the most optimal way and they are almost as important as the dresses themselves.

Inspiration of the Day…

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Fall colors have always been a favorite with us but we also like winter colors- colors that suggest a time of year when the weather gets cold and crisp. Having recently returned from our neighbor to the North, we’re been inspired by a more color palette more commonly associated with the Arctic Circle (OK, we’re reaching here) rather than Southern California and when it comes to styles, we found this c. 1900 – 1901 evening dress to be the embodiment of that:

Evening Dress 1900 - 1901

Madame Memot, Evening Dress, 1900 – 1901; Norsk Folkemuseum (NF.1962-0398A)

Evening Dress 1900 - 1901

Rear View

In terms of silhouette, this dress is consistent with c. 1900 styles with its slender, upright profile. However, it’s hard to determine if it was worn with the newly-emerging s-bend style corset or with the earlier style. The fashion fabric is a light turquoise/blue brocade with a floral pattern and trimmed with black embroidered and jeweled netting and a matching turquoise chiffon. Here’s a close-up of the bodice:

Evening Dress 1900 - 1901

Close-up of bodice

The above close-up gives a better idea of the color palette at work; here’s another way to look at it:

Color Palette_Northern Lights

It’s interesting that what we’d consider “turquoise” is termed “steel blue”…but in the end what counts is the color itself. We’ll close with a few more pictures just to stir the imagination:

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Enjoy!

And Back In LA…

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It was a fun, long weekend in rainy Victoria but now we’re back and there’s a lot of catching up to do back here in LA. We could just a taste of Fall but now we’re back to the land of seemingly eternal summer…fortunately, we were able to ease into things a bit with a pleasant flight on Air Canada, fortified with a decent Malbec. 🙂

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So what next? Well, there’s a wedding in Tombstone to prepare for along with some new dress designs for one of our collections- stay tuned for that, we believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And now for one last memory:

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On To Craigdarroch Castle…

After a brief tea refreshment, we drive back to Victoria to pay a visit to Craigdarroch Castle. Nicknamed today as “Canada’s Castle,” Craigdarroch Castle was built in 1887-90 by the Robert Dunsmuir, a man who made his fortune from coal and railroads. Like many houses built by the nouveau riche of the late 19th Century, to expense was spared and it was built large, originally on a 28-acre estate (although most of the surrounding land was later sold off). For us, it was a fascinating peek into a world mostly only seen in pictures and the sheer massiveness of the house impressed us- one just doesn’t get an idea of the sheer size until they actually experience it in person. 🙂

Here’s are few views of the exterior:

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There was renovation going on so I wasn’t able to get the best pictures so here’s one from Wikipedia to help out:

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And now for the interior…

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The central staircase- there are four floors and a lot of steps…

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Part of the entrance hallway.

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Front Parlor

One of the most interesting things we learned was that in restoring the house, great efforts were made to track down the original furnishings and various other artifacts though auction catalogs and the like- after the death of the Joan Dunsmuir in 1908, the house and its contents were dispersed in a number of sales since none of the heirs lacked the means to buy the others out. Also, ironically enough, Robert Dunsmuir died in 1889 before he could occupy his new house.

Moving along, here are some more views:

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One of the hallways…

By now, you probably might have noticed that there were a number of garments on display. Unfortunately there were no signs or anything else that gave any information so it’s hard to know if these were original to the house or merely generic placeholders. But here they are:

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This one is definitely late 1890s, especially with the relatively narrow sleeve caps.

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Here’s a good view of the side profile.

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The chatelaine is amazing.

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This one was a bit far away to be able to view properly but it appears to be more of a late 1890s or very early 1900s.

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Fairly generic ball gown/evening dress. The staging wasn’t the most optimal.

And for a something Chinese…we’re not sure how that fit in but OK. 🙂

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We’re not sure where this fit in but it was fascinating to look at.

Here are some more views of various rooms:

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One of the bedrooms.

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The billiard room.

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Early sewing machine.

The ballroom was closed due to issues with the soundness of the floor but there were a number of dance cards:  🙂

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Overall, it was a wonderful experience and we highly recommend it for anyone visiting Victoria.