A couple of weeks ago I started having second thoughts about my dress design. In the sketch, the sleeves were pretty close cut, and I thought I might rather have something loose. I started looking at a blog of costumes from period films and realized that the time period we’ve been thinking about all along for our theme was the Edwardian Era, which was from 1901-1910. It’s a short period of time, but a great deal of fashion and style came out of it (it’s one of the periods that Steampunk culture is derived from). In France, the period is defined as the Belle Époque, lasting from the Late Victorian Era to the end of World War I, 1890-1918. It combines the formal nostalgia of the Victorian Era with the rise of modern technology. Some of the best-loved English literature comes out of this period, making it perfect for our theme, which is becoming much better defined and focused into key words: rustic, nautical, historical, storybook, relaxed.
So I searched the blog’s Edwardian costume galleries, and found a few more traditionally Edwardian shapes to the bodices – slight variations of the sketch, but with more comfortable arms. I let the ideas steep in my brain for a few days, then went back to the site, hoping to find images sources so I could see the dresses from other angles. That’s when I noticed a dress I’d completely passed by on my first glance through. It combines my dream of Lizzie Bennett’s dress with a similar silhouette to Ingrids original designs, plus adds a bit of romance.
It’s a 1909-11 design by the House of Worth, one of the most famous couture houses in Paris during the Belle Époque. This dress is in the collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click on one of the photos above for larger images and to zoom on the details (and boy, are there details).
My version of the dress will be made of more natural, rustic materials – the underdress will be dove gray cotton poplin, and the sheer over-layer will be a darker smoke gray silk chiffon. Though it is difficult to see in the above photos, there is a heavily beaded waist panel:
Now that the dress is decided upon, I’ve got one other thing that’s changing: the shoes. The blue chambray just clashes with the warm gray. Ingrid reminded me that the shoes are canvas, which means that I can dye them (or paint them, if I’m lazy, which I probably will be). Here’s what they’ll look like in dark gray, with the little red hearts:
What do you think?