And For A Little Early Christmas…

We normally prefer to reserve our Christmas-themed posts until AFTER Thanksgiving, this one was just too nice to pass up: Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, BC:  🙂

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For us, this is not just another pretty Christmas scene- we were fortunate to have been able to view this room (sans Christmas decorations) during a recent visit to Craigdarroch Castle; pictures simply doesn’t do justice to it. Of course, we’re also planning on our own take on Christmas at No. 11 when we once again participate in the Tombstone Historic Home Tour so stay tuned!

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:

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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.