And It’s That Time Again- Lily Absinthe Goes To The FIDM Museum, Part 2

12th Annual Art of Television Costume Design

And to wrap things up, here’s some more commentary on our latest trip to view the 12th “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit” at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles. After viewing the wardrobe from The Alienist, we then moved on to viewing the latest wardrobe installment from Game of Thrones:

FIDM Museum

First up is one of Daenary’s winter looks…not your typical medieval fur coat look.

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FIDM Museum

Power dressing for Sansa…

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FIDM Museum

Cersei’s latest look…

And then we saw some interesting outfits from Season 3 of Westworld:

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We have to admit that although we pretty much lost interest in the show after the first season, we did find these costumes compelling from an aesthetic perspective. 🙂 Well, that pretty much concludes our trip to this year’s Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit at the FIDM Museum. We are looking forward to next year’s exhibit.

 

And It’s That Time Again- Lily Absinthe Goes To The FIDM Museum, Part 1

12th Annual Art of Television Costume Design

Today we decided to avail ourselves of a last opportunity to view the 12th “Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design Exhibit” at the FIDM Museum in Los Angeles and while we had to deal with some large crowds, it was definitely worth the time. As a general thing, we like the costume exhibits that are put on at the FIDM Museum because the location is convenient, parking is relatively easy to find, and the admission is free. Yes, free! 🙂

FIDM Adam

Getting in a quick picture between mods of visitors…

Although we tend to focus on shows set in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, we’re not oblivious to other eras and genres and upon entering we were greeted by some artfully designed outfits from the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel:

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While 1950s fashions may seem to be light years apart from the late 19th Century, they both share the characteristic of carefully sculpted silhouettes (helped along by proper foundation garments) and as such represent the design ethos of careful, deliberate design effects, something that was not to re-emerge until the 1980s (albeit in a somewhat re-worked form).

Next, were the costumes from The Alienist. We’ll start with the men’s outfits:

FIDM Museum

The above is a fairly functional sack suit and it pretty much fits for 1896 although there’s a couple of details that we find questionable. First, the use of bright colored and/or patterned silks, wools, and cottons for vest fronts was more of an 1860s style and by the 1890s, fabrics tended towards more conservative patterns and colors, often matching the rest of the sack suit (but not always). Second, the use of insets on the collar/lapels is somewhat questionable- from the extant period examples we’ve examined, this seemed to have been a style element reserved for more formal frock and tail coats. Perhaps this was an attempt to emphasize the character John Moore’s upper class status.

Next, we see a frock coat suit worn by Dr. Lazlo Kriezler:

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The use of a bottle green wool is interesting in that it’s a little outside of the norm but not implausibly so and the silhouette holds up well. The button holes on the collar is an odd embellishment but it’s hard to notice on screen.

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Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans in *The Alienist*

And now for the women’s costumes, at least those worn by Dakota Fanning as Sara Howard. First up is a day dress:

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In terms of silhouette, this dress follows a fairly conventional 1890s day dress style and the silk brocade fashion fabric suggests a better sort of afternoon/visiting dress. However, the sleeves seem to be lacking for a dress that’s supposed to date from 1896. The mid-1890s saw the gigot, or leg-of-mutton, sleeve in full boom and for the most part, had far more fullness than what’s on this dress. Granted, some gigot sleeve styles could get seriously over the top but nevertheless, for a dress worn by someone of means, this is not an area that would have been skimped on; these just appear perfunctory. Finally, in its defense, the plum and magenta color combination is an excellent one and the hats further enhances this although the hat doesn’t appear to have been worn, at least to the best of our recollection (somehow, when it comes to film and TV, hats are usually the first thing to be discarded).

Final note: When we first viewed this costume at the FIDM Museum, we noticed that the bottom of the bodice was unbuttoned. We thought this was some attempt to model the bodice details but when we found the above picture, we saw that it had been worn that was in the production. The only reaction we can summon is NO. These dresses were meant to be work with all the fasteners closed; it simply doesn’t read correctly. Perhaps there was a fit issue that prevented full closure and there was no time to fix it but still, it’s simply sloppy.

Next, we seen an evening dress:

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Due to the crowds, I was unable to get a good frontal view so here are a few additional ones that we found online:

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The concept illustration.

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One interesting thing we noticed with this evening dress was that the bodice included spaghetti straps in the production but this was lacking in the actual garments when it was on display. Style-wise this evening dress does give a very rough 1890s silhouette but that’s about all that’s 1890s about it. The worst element is the pleated bodice- the pleats are not only not historically correct, but they make the bodice look ill-fitting. The sleeve and neck treatment also don’t help- The strips of velvet swags are loosely tacked onto the bodice front and limply hang off the shoulders with no attempt to really follow the wearer’s silhouette. The overall effect just looks sloppy. Finally, no real attempt was made to properly create the gored skirts that were the basic element of any 1890s evening dress:

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Here we see a loose gathering of fabric. Once again, sloppy. Just for comparison, let’s take a look at an original evening dress circa 1892 – 1896 that features a pleated bodice:

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

M. Laferriere, Robes et Mantaux, Evening Dress, c. 1892 – 1896; Kent State University Museum (1983.001.0173)

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

Close-Up, Rear View

Evening Dress c. 1892 - 1896

While style elements may vary, the key is that the total dress is tidy with smooth lines. Nothing appears to have been added without purpose. Now, perhaps the rumpled bodice in the production was hiding a lack of corseting (can’t say for sure here but often leading actresses insist on not wearing corsets in productions and usually the director will go along with it, even though it ruins the bodice silhouette).

In contract to the ball down is this walking suit that unfortunately got almost no air time:

FIDM Museum

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Overall, the silhouette reads mid-1890s and the construction is excellent, especially in lining up the stripes between the sleeves and cuffs. The jacket/skirt/waist combination was very characteristic of 1890s day wear and the costume designer definitely got it right. The only issue is, like the above day dress, is the sleeves- they could have been larger, extending out from the shoulder more.

The Alienist

Overall, it was a commendable attempt and definitely deserves recognitiion. Well, that’s it for now- we’ll have more soon.

(To be continued…)

And Now Back To The 70s…

The 1870s, that is! 🙂 Below is one extremely interesting example of  Early Bustle Era style from circa 1872-1875 that epitomizes many of the style elements of early 1870s style:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Day Dress, c. 1872 – 1875; Metropolitan Museum of Art (1986.304a, b)

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Side Profile

Daydress c. 1872 - 1875

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Three-quarter rear profile.

This dress is an interesting combination of a lavender silk brocade combined with silk satin gold stripe panels edged in red that run along the lower underskirt and hem as well as an edging for the overskirt; the same treatment is also found on the bodice and sleeve cuffs. What’s also interesting is that the gold striping acts to frame the overskirt and the bodice making for a bright contrast with the more subdued lavender fashion fabric. Here are some close-ups of the various fabrics:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of the fashion fabric.

Looking closer at the fashion fabric, one can see a pattern of white dots with red/green/white floral(?) elements in between. At a distance, the floral elements appear to be gold, an effect no doubt influenced by the higher luster gold striping. Also, it’s interesting that on the lower underskirt, the fashion fabric has been cut on the bias, presenting the white dot stripes on the diagonal.

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of hem.

Next, let’s take a look at one of the sleeve cuffs which gives us some more detail about the gold stripes. It would appear that the gold silk satin stripes are overlaid on an orange/red fabric (appears to also be silk satin). Style-wise, the turn-back cuffs are 18th Century inspired with the rows of buttons and exaggerated button holes and nicely complement the rest of the dress.

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of sleeve cuff.

Finally, here’s a view of the dress in a more natural display:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

From this view, one can see the bottom of the bodice whose lines are more angular along the bottom than the usual smooth curves which was more the norm. What is also striking is the long line of buttons and associated detail running along the edge of the overskirt, serving to draw the eye. Here’s a closer view:

Daydress c. 1872 - 1875

Finally, here’s a view of the upper skirt and waistband:

Day Dress c. 1872 - 1875

Detail of upper skirt/waistband.

Here we see that part of the trained/bustled effect was achieved through artfully contrived loops and buttons. It’s hard to tell but from this angle, it appears that this is the underskirt. Overall, this is a nice example of the early 1870s style and is actually a bit restrained in terms of yardage and the train/bustle effect- many dresses of this era seemed to have been designed with the idea of cramming as much yardage as possible into the train, thus making the wearer look like they’re overstuffed couch. The one that we especially like is it’s pristine condition (well, it IS the Met Museum, after all!) and clean lines. This one is certainly an inspiration, both in terms of colors and fabrics and style.

And For Some Style From Maison Rouff

Maison Rouff Card 1910.

Recently, we came across this interesting evening dress style that was offered by Maison Rouff from circa 1895:

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Maison Rouff, Evening Dress, c. 1895; Metropolitan Museum of Art (2009.300.2339a, b)

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Three-Quarter Rear View

The interesting thing about this style is incorporation of a short sleeve jacket/vest into the bodice, reminiscent of an 18th Century waist coat. This is a feature that’s not usually encountered in evening dress styles of the 1890s (at least what we’ve come across so far). Here’s a close-up of the back of the bodice:

Rouff Evening Dress c. 1895

Close-up detail of bodice back.

The dress and under-bodice look like a fairly conventional silk chiffon with a silk underskirt but where the jacket/vest definitely gives this a unique look. We would love to know more about this imaginative dress. 🙂

 

Fabric Safari in London…

 

It’s been a busy August between a buying trip to Oregon for all manner of vintage lace and fabrics and renovating No. 11 in Tombstone but we’ve gotten it all under control and turned our attention to our upcoming trip to London. With no costumes to bring with us this time, we’ll be travelling light (relatively speaking). We’ve created a bit of itinerary, focusing on some promising fabric stores along with some museums that we missed the last time. Of course, we’ll flying out on our favorite airline…

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Some tentative stops on our fabric safari are:

  • MacCulloch & Wallis, Ltd.– This one has admittedly mixed reviews and is priced a bit on the high side but you never know until you look.
  • The Berwick Street Cloth Shop– The reviews are better here and it’s a short walk away from MacCulloch & Wallis so we might as check this one out too.
  •  The Silk Society– The name says it all…we’re always on the lookout for the unique and different and especially when it comes to silk. 🙂
  • Kleins– Looks more of a generalist establishment but it may be worth hitting just because.

I’m sure there’s a lot more out there and I realize that the pricing is on the high side but we’ve always had the philosophy that if we come across the right piece for our clients, we’re willing to pay a little more. So with that said, it’s really more about the search and if we walk away empty-handed, that’s OK too. 🙂