Saturday, December 5, 2009

Edwardian / Titanic inspired Evening Dress

I bet "Office Party" season has began for everyone. I know these past few years, all of us girls began discussing what we would wear before Halloween had even come to pass. So how can you reconcile your love for costumes with fancy diner with co-workers? (In my case, it was a huge party in a reception hall and attires went from Jeans to Prom dresses, so you could pretty much get away with anything).

Last year, I was 7 month pregnant by the time the Office Party came to be. All of my fancier outfits did not fit my belly, so I just HAD to make something new (I have an excuse every year, I know, but you have to admit, that was a good one).

Original "Jump Dress" Drawing, Titanic (1997)

I happened to have a (lab grown) oval sapphire pendant surrounded by (lab grown) diamonds and it reminded me of The Heart of the Ocean. That inspired me to turn to Rose's dresses in James Cameron's Oscar winning movie, Titanic.

Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic (1997)

Designed by Deborah Lynn Scott, the costumes in Titanic are beautiful, romantic and dramatic. Of course, I have wanted for many years to reproduce one of them (famous last words), but I guess the next best thing is to make something that has a certain costume feel.

For my dress, I was inspired by Rose's Jump Dress: I loved the red with black lace effect. It's other advantage was that is is en empire waist, which I needed to fit my growing belly.

Gwenyver's Edwardian inspired Evening Dress

I found this beautiful black lace fabric at a decent price, and after hesitating a little (but only a little - I had hoped to go for some bejewelled lace), I go just enough for my dress, and I am glad I did because it came out great. For the red fabric, I had hoped to get satin, but I ended up using this polyester silk imitation that was dirt cheap and actually worked better. As for the pattern, I made it up. It consists of an empire waist bodice with darts, short sleeves and a below the knee gathered skirt. I did originally consider having the lace over skirt be split up the center, sort of like the Jump Dress, but I decided against it as I was afraid it would only serve to outline my baby bump (I know it sounds dumb, but having always been self conscious about my weight and body shape, I felt uncomfortable with the new maternity fashion that really accents the tummy area).

At the time, I wanted a short skirt, but now, I almost wish I had made it floor length so I could wear it as a period dress.

Gwenyver, Seven Month Pregnant, December 2008

So there it is. Guess when I finished it? That's right, the night before. Once it was done, I found that the neckline was a little too high for my taste, but I had been afraid to make it too low. That's OK, I can easily fix it by cutting a few inches away (it would have been much harder to add some had I originally cut too much!).

My co-workers were very impressed. My supervisor kept saying it was just like Haute Couture. Well, I don't know about that, but it is true that it is a very nice dress.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Elf Yourself

By now, I'm sure everyone has seen an "Elf Yourself" video. They have been around for a couple of years and are now a part of the Holiday Tradition. (Ah! Technology!) In that spirit, staring my Sweetheart, my Daughter, my cat G'Kwan and Myself, here are my own humoristic Holiday wishes to my many readers.
Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Aren't those Elf costumes cute? And I bet they are comfy too. I want one. Really. All I need is green velvet, white faux-fur, some red and white striped thigh high socks (OK, and a wide leather belt, a red feather and some red trim for the hat).

I have a friend who says that if I ever make him an Elf costume, he will wear it to every Holiday Party of the season, including the Office Christmas Party. I should really get around to making him one. I can just see him in it, dancing next to the secretarial pool.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Costume at Victoria's Secret 2009 Fashion Show

On Tuesday, CBS presented Victoria's Secret Annual Fashion Show. I know many gentlemen (and ladies) watch this for the lingerie, but I like it for the costumes and wings!

So, in no particular order, lets look (and possibly drool) on some of the fabulous accessories used to outfit these designer bras and panties.

Note: All pictures were borrowed from Marie Claire UK for illustration and costume study purposes. Also, I would love to credit each of the models, but I don't know them, so I do apologize for that.

Love the clockwork wings here. They are so Steampunk!

It's Little Red Ridding Hood! (And I will now restrain myself from making R rated jokes about the Big Bad Wolf.)

I like this one: it has a sexy Ice Queen feel.

Is anyone else getting images of Milla Jovovich as Leeloo (The Fifth Element - 1997)?

This just reminded me of Art History classes: Nude Descending a Staircase, a 1912 painting with both Cubist and Futurist elements by Marcel Duchamp.

If there was such a thing as "Peter Pan's Lost Girls", flying over the clouds, that is what I imagine they would look like.

I loved the wings of this one. Can you say "Bird of Paradise"?

Another nice wing getup, but this one should probably be called "Lust Angel". It's the red.

Clearly a 90's Techno inspiration here.

This one is probably my favorite (I know, I said no specific order, but it's fun to keep the best for last). You know me, blue and green always catch my eye. But here, it feels like a mixture of Ancient Egyptian influence (Lapis Blue, Malachite Green and Ruby Red) and Stained Glass work such as what you might find in a Cathedral. And are those Peacock feathers I see trimming the wings?

The funny thing about all of these outfits is that they are considered very sexy by the general public, and yet it is no worse than some of the costumes I have seen at Anime Conventions!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Peppermint Candy Cane Geisha

Live from Gwenyver's never ending Costume Wishlist, here is another Food themed Geisha by Sera Gencarelli, a.k.a Halflingsera:

Peppermint Candy Cane Geisha by Halflingsera

She wears a red and white, diagonally stripped Kimono with green lining, a white Nagajuban with thin red and green stripes, a red Obi, white Obijime with candy cane brooch, white Tabi socks, white Zōri with red Hanao. Her hairstyle resembles that of an Oiran with her many Candy Cane hair sticks set on each side of her head. Dressed this way, she is ready for Christmas!

I know I've said it before, but I will say it again: I love Sera's Food Geisha series!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs

Oh, this is exciting! The Art Gallery of Ontario is having an exhibition on King Tutankhamun from November 24, 2009, to April 18, 2010: King Tut - The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.

Anyone who might be interested in Ancient Egyptian Costume (and can get to Toronto before April 18, 2010) should take the time to go. After all, after actual clothing pieces, the next best thing to study a costume is art, and Egyptian art is so beautiful and colourful.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Movie Monday: Red Cliff

I just found out about a new movie coming out on Friday: Red Cliff (2008). It is a Chinese movie by legendary director John Woo that came out last year in China and is now coming to us North Americans.

I don't know about you, but I do enjoy Chinese Epic movies. Just think of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Hero (2002), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006). All had beautiful costumes, wonderful art direction and breathtaking cinematography.

Red Cliff is set in 208 C.E. and is based on the Battle of Red Cliffs and other events from the end of the Han Dynasty.

Zhang Fengyi as Cao Cao and Takeshi Kaneshiro as Zhuge Liang, Red Cliff (2008)

Less I be mistaken, costumes worn in China at the time were the traditional Hanfu. Now be careful not to mistake them with Kimono; to our modern, western eyes, they might look the same, but the fact is Kimono were derived from Hanfu.

Chiling Lin as Xiao Qiao,Red Cliff (2008)

Don't worry ladies, there are some women in the movie (Hanfu for us too!).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Victorian Christmas at Sir George-Étienne Cartier's

Guess what I did today? I went with my parents and Daughter to see the Victorian Christmas exhibit at Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada (that's in Old Montréal by the way). I had been wanting to go ever since I found out about it last year. We even got sit for "The Art of Entertaining" presentation, where butler Thomas Vincent told us how a Victorian Christmas dinner (and other period dinners) would happen, what would be served, what was considered polite, etc. It was interesting... But I have to admit, I was a little disappointed.

Dinning Room - Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada

First of all, I learned that I already knew most of what our guide told us, and on some subjects even more, because some of the things he said made no sense. For instance, he kept comparing food and services with previous periods as well as the present) and he kept saying that in Medieval times, people only ate soup with made from whatever they could find, which might have been somewhat true for the poor, but as he was comparing this to what a wealthy Victorian family would serve... It's like comparing apples and sushi.

And second (since this is not a Food blog), I saw barely any costumes! The butler was in full Victorian getup, complete with gloves, vest and tailcoat, and he did first come in with his apron and sleeve protectors, but, you know, I always want more.

Living Room - Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada

The exhibit was nice. I love history, so it was great to see antique Christmas decorations as well as the house's rooms furnished decorated as if it was really Christmas 1865 (oh what I would give to do a photo shoot of a Victorian costume in one of these rooms - it would be the perfect backdrop). It is only 3.90$ to visit the house and exhibit so if you're in the neighborhood and love history too, you should definitely go.

And now, for the few costumes I managed to take pictures of to bring to you. I have to quickly mention that I just had time to snap pictures before the "The Art of Entertaining" activity began, and once it was over, they let us visit the house quickly before closing for lunch, so dummy me, I didn't read the cards explaining what each costume was. I'll have to give you my best guess (which shouldn't be too off).

This represents Sir Georges-Étienne Cartier whose house we were in. For those of you who have never heard of him, he was Prime Minister of Canada East from 1858 to 1862 and is a Father of the Confederation. Here we see him in a double-breasted Frock Coat, a typical Victorian Men's Jacket.

Cassock and Shoulder Cape

The Catholic clergy had a predominant place in French Canadian (Québec) culture until the 1960's. Now I'm no expert on religious clothing but from what I could gather in my quick research on the subject, this is a cassock and a shoulder cape, complete with pectoral cross. Since the whole thing is purple, this is most likely a Bishop's costume.

If you know more on the subject would like to add anything, that would be great.

Soldier's Uniform and Victorian Day Dress

Once again, I'm not very knowledgeable about soldier's uniform, but I can tell you a little about the dress: it is a Victorian Day Dress, and I'm guessing, from the shape, that it is probably circa 1860. You know it's a day dress because the bodice has long sleeves and a high neck.

Gwenyver and Daughter in front of the Pretty Costumes

I do want to thank the staff at the Sir George-Étienne Cartier National Historic Site of Canada for letting me take pictures, and a special thanks to the "Butler", Thomas Vincent, for his patience with my Baby who made cute noises during his entire two hour presentation (he even reacted to her sounds, patting her on the head for agreeing with him). Same goes for the other guests who never uttered a word or a sigh. Thank you very much.

And even though I'm a pain for being difficult about the information I was given, I did enjoy his presentation quite a lot. He was passionate about his subject and that always keeps me attentive.