Saturday, 27 July 2013

More Regency Fashion

Lauriston Castle
After last weekend's Austen weekend, in one of those odd coincidences, today I had a lecture on Jane Austen Fashion, held at Lauriston Castle. It was my first visit to the castle, which hides itself away in the middle of a council estate, but I think I will be returning for a guided tour of the place.

The talk was given by Julia Soares-McCormick and while I cant claim to have learned anything new, it was lovely to see some new pieces, including underwear. I know for example, that the first knickers (or pants for the Americans) were two individual legs which individually fastened around the waist (The world#s first crotchless panties!). However, I had never before actually seen a pair, not even a picture. Seeing a half corset was great too, and very much like our modern strapless bras today, save that the fact that they lace at the front.

Day, evening and court dresses
I'm unsure how well i would get on with such a garment, as I have a very ample chest. Regency breasts were supposed to be pushed up and separated (cleavage was a big no-no) but I have so much, I think just supporting them would be an effort without underwire, let alone separating them.

Finally there was a fantastic gown which was commissioned, and based on a gown worn by Josephine (Napoleon's wife). I don't think that my pictures do justice to it but it was a truly scrumptious gown with very intricate bead work on the robe.

I couldn't help but think how terribly hot it must have been to wear however, and especially to dance in. Chemise, corset (full or half), silk dress and satin lined velvet robe! The robe was also remarkably heavy.

Oh, one new fact I did learn (and had tried looking up in the past) was whether sequins were available in Regency times. They were, and had been around since the 16th century, although they were made from metal, not plastic, and fastened at the top rather than a hole in the centre. They were called sparkles, not sequins and now that I know their name, I can find numerous examples of sparkles in regency and earlier outfits online.

Anyhow, I hope you like the photographs below.

The half corset
Chemise, pantaloons, half corset and cap
Day dress and Spencer jacket.
Bonnet accompanying the day dress
Evening dress
Court dress, based on a gown worn by Josephine, Empress of France
Reverse angle showing the small train. It was longer (like the original) until a model almost tripped and fell on it.
An attempt to capture the bead work on the velvet

By lucky happenstance, photographing another dress caught the bead work reflecting the light, as it was designed to do in candlelight.

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