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! 🙂


A Visit To Cimètiere Montmarte & Paul Poiret


One of our major goals on our Paris trip was to pay our respects to Paul Poiret so a trip to Cimètiere Montmarte was definitely in order. Commonly acknowledged as the King of Fashion, Paul Poiret enjoyed a colorful career as a couturier in the early 20th Century and is credited with both paradoxically eliminating the confines of the corset while at the same time introducing the hobble skirt. Unfortunately, while Poiret was a fashion innovator, he was unable to adapt to the profound social and economic  changes that were brought about by the First World War and gradually his fashion designs fell out of favor. Combined with an inability to management money, Poiret’s fashion business ultimately failed while at the same time going through a nasty divorce. As the years went buy, Poiret faded into obscurity, only kept financially afloat by his various friends including the designer Elsa Schiaparelli, ultimately dying on April 30, 1944.

We were able to locate the cemetery where Poiret was interred and it seemed like a fairly easy task to locate his final resting place. However, in reality, it was a lot more difficult and as things turned out, he’s interred in a family tomb bearing the name “Boivin.” We’re not sure of the exact family connection but its location was consistent with what we had researched online and with some close examination of the tomb’s inside (not easy since it was dark inside), we located his gravestone/commemorative marker. It wasn’t easy getting a picture of the marker because of the grill covering the tomb’s window:

I have to say, it was quite a moving and sad experience visiting Paul Poiret’s tomb- it’s obvious that it does not get many visitors and it’s located in an obscure part of the cemetery far from the entrance. It’s sad to consider that for being one of the most influential couturiers in France that he died in obscurity, almost forgotten, the product of a long-dead age. Well, we like to think that at we remember. 🙂 Next time when we visit, we’ll be sure to bring flowers.

As an aside, Cimètiere Montmarte is a fascinating cemetery located in Montmarte in the 18e Arrondisement of Paris and it’s the final resting place for many famous individuals including military figures, authors, actors, artists, and musicians, as well as regular people, and it’s a quiet oasis in what is normally a very busy and noisy city. Also, for some reason, it’s also the home of a large number of black cats and crows- go figure. 🙂 If you ever get to Paris, the cemetery is definitely worth a visit.

We Salute You, Charles Worth!

Today was a busy day for us at Costume College. For our class on Charles Worth, we brought two original Worth dresses from our collection: one an evening gown from the late 1880s – early 1890s and a wedding gown from the late 1870s. We’ll be posting more about soon, so in the meantime, we salute you Mr. Worth! 🙂

Karin Costume College

At the hotel bar after the class….