Out And About- The Getty Villa

Yesterday, we decided to take a break and visit the newly-reopened Getty Villa for a little aesthetic inspiration and mental re-energizing. The isolation because of COVID has been especially strong here in Southern California and we’ve been feeling it. Fortunately, things are beginning to open up again so we took advantage. Here’s a few pictures from our excursion, enjoy! 🙂

 



Wrapping It Up- Dracula, Part 4

We never realized that there was so much loaded in a horror movie from a costume perspective…so now here’s our fourth and last installment. 🙂 Dracula, like Bram Stoker’s book of that name and the legends surrounding vampirism in general, has a heavy erotic element to it that both excites and repels at the same time. While we tend to identify with the plight of the hero/heroes, we are also excited by the villains. In Dracula, we not only have the sometime suave/sometime repellant Count Dracula (depending on what guise he’s assuming), but we also have his minions. Dracula’s “Brides” definitely fill the bill as we see below:

Lucy Bridal3

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Monica Bellucci

Michaela Bercu

Michaela Bercu

The above three “Brides” are dressed in outfits reminiscent of the Classical Greek Peplos, and Chiton, garments consisting of loose draped fabric. Naturally, the fabrics used in the movie are sheer that serves to heighten the Brides’ eroticisim. Below are examples of the Chiton:

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Peplos-in-Ancient-GreeceThe Brides’ headpieces have more of a Byzantine feel to them which is consistent with the film’s backstory. Here are some examples:

82c906e8090deb31af985b60c4413656We conclude with the following picture that sums up a lot of the themes running throughout Dracula in which we see both innocence and purity mixed up in evil:

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Jonathan Harker and the Brides of Dracula

And after the story has unfolded, we are left with ultimate redemption and triumph of good over evil. From a costume perspective, we see the how the costuming helps to tell the story. This is not your old school Dracula wearing a tuxedo and top hat; no this is a more “real” vampire who has a story and a strong set of motivations for what he does. While we may have issues over historic authenticity of some of the wardrobe, it’s not a serious detraction from the movie and it still works.

In looking at the Victorian Era clothing of the film, we’re left with the feeling that while the selection of fabrics, colors, and styles were well thought out, it suffers from the tendency of people to mash the decades together and this is especially true when it applies to the late 19th Century. A bustle is not just a “bustle” as the decades pass and neither is a train and by the 1897, bustles and trains have for the most part disappeared. This is a key lapse that could have been corrected for in a number of ways. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this and we look forward to bringing you more commentary on other film costuming in future posts.





What Is Old Is New (Again)…

In keeping with the Classical theme, below is this 1880s ballgown that’s attributed to Liberty & Co. :

Liberty & Co. (attributed), Ballgown, c. 1880s; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985.155)

Three-Quarter Frontal View

While the V&A Museum dates this dress to the 1880s, we believe that this was most likely made sometime in the Mid-1880s based on the silhouette (although, as with all garment dating, we’re only making an educated guess). Constructed of a gold silk, this ballgown has a the bustle/train silhouette characteristic of the Mid-1880s while at the same time creating a style reminiscent of the Doric Chiton of Classical Greece:

With its free-flowing, ruffled folds, the ballgown’s fashion fabric gives the appearance of effortless draping. This is a somewhat of a departure to the norm where bodices, for both ballgowns and day wear, were tightly sculpted over a corset-created shell. However, in contrast to the Doric Chiton of Classical Greece, the 1880s interpretation by Liberty is a bit more controlled as can be seen with this interior view:

Interior view of the bodice.

The bodice’s interior construction is fairly typical of 1880s bodices with boning to maintain the bodice’s shape. In short, while this ballgown gives the appearance of flowing drapery, it’s just as controlled and structured as any other ballgown of the era. But, more importantly, the style is also reflects the Aesthetic Movement (aka Aestheticism), a trend that was growing during this era. One of the products of the Aestheticism was the advent of Aesthetic Dress, a dress style based on simplicity of line and rich fabrics that rejected the predominant structured fashion of the era created by the corset and bustle. Overall, the look was meant to be liberating and provide freedom of mobility.

The Doric Chiton of Classical Greece offered a lot more freedom of movement than what most Victorians were ready for…

While Aesthetic Dress’s objectives did not reach full fruition to much later (as with such designers as Paul Poiret), this represented a start. It must be noted that Liberty and Company was one of the leading proponents of Aesthetic Dress, starting production on a line of dresses in 1884. Finally, we’d like to note that this ballgown design is interesting in that it looks back to a much earlier time while at the same time offering something fresh and thus it offers another design choice for anyone interested in replicating styles from the 1880s.