Sunday, 15 June 2014

HSF14 Challenge 11: Politics of Fashion

I was really happy when I saw this coming up as a challenge, since I had planned to finish my1787 revolutionary costume in June.

I had hoped to get a nice photo shoot done today, but the last few days I've been down with a really bad cold. The kind where you just want to curl up in the sofa and do nothing else, so the photo shoot has been postponed. Instead I'll bring you some pictures of the outfit on my dressform. The dressform isn't wearing my proper underpinnings since I can't adjust it to my measurements when I'm wearing stays and bumroll anyway, so trust me when I say that the fitting is better on me than on the dressform.

First something about my inspiration though. My revolutionary gown is based on this fashion plate from 1788, the tag in the blog says 1787 because I was mistaken when I made it and I don't want to to break the links with the tag so I haven't edited.

I started the project because I fell in love with it. I was also quite inspired by having read, seen and listened to Les Miserables and wanted to do something, but since I don't like the 1830s fashion I preferred going back to the original French revolutio. I had read up a bit on the women of the French revolution nand to me it looked exactly like something that I would expect Theroigne de Mericourt to wear. Theroigne de Mericourt was very active in the early days of the French Revolution, she agitated for full civil rights for women, and was known for dressing in a red riding coat.

The fashion plate conveys a lot of political statements in itself as well. It is an outfit that is a proof of the democratization of fashion in the late 18th century. It is a stark contrast to the stiff and heavy court gowns that were worn by the aristocracy in the earlier decades. It should also be noted that during the Reign of Terror it was not wise to go dressed in silks and brocade unless you wanted to be accused of being a counter revolutionary, and thus risking to loose your head at the guillotine.

 The basis for the whole outfit is the chemise dress, which in itself is probably one of the most revolutionary fashion statements in history. The revolutionary years would also see an increase in militarization of the fashion, including the women's fashion. Here the red redingote with gold trims, as well as the waistcoat, is a clear nod to military uniforms and male fashion. The hat has been trimmed with feathers, which was also used by women to show their support of the militant revolution, even though the hat itself is a big fashionable late 1780's hat.

Finally there is the colour scheme. When the traditional of colours of Paris, blue and red, where combined with white to create the classic French tricolore, it became an instant political statement to dress in that colour scheme. Blue, white, red elements and cockades showed that you were a true revolutionary, believing in democracy and progress. If you wore purple it was a sign that you preferred l'ancien regime though. I've chosen to increase the tricolor theme from the fashion plate by making the waistcoat and lining of the redingote blue as well.

My gown à la revolution consists of four parts and here are links to more detailed posts about them..
1. The gaulle that I made for the HSF14 Challenge 9: Black and white
2. Blue linen waistcoat with white lining
3. Red wool redingote with linen lining (going to make a write-up on that one soon)
4. The megahat

I''ve also added a fichu, but I think I need to make one in some other shape to get the right pigeon shaped silhouette..  Everything except the gaulle  and the cap has been made within the time frame of the challenge.

The outfit also has some proper blood stains, very fitting for a revolutionary gown. Two days ago I almost cut the tip of my finger off and when I was dressing the dressform the wound burst and bleed all over the dress. I'm really glad that the gaulle is all made with cotton and linen, and I've prewashed everything and finished the seams properly so I should be able to put it in all in the washing machine before wearing it.

Anyway, here are the pictures.

Just the facts

The Challenge: Politics of fashion
Fabric: The main pieces are from cotton, linen and wool. The hat is buckram, cotton velvet and silk taffeta.
Pattern: The hat is from Lynn McMaster's Universal Round brimmed hat, the gaulle, redingote and waistcoat are selfdrafted.
Year: 1788-89
Notions: regular sewing thread, satin ribbon, buttons, hook and eye tape..
How historically accurate is it? Accuracy differs a lot between the elements. The waistcoat is handmade with authentic materials, the redingote is made from wool and cotton, but I've used a sewing machine and poly trim. The hat is probably not accurate at all. In total I would give 90% for the look, but around 50% for construction.
Hours to complete: The whole outfit has taken me the whole spring, but the hat, the waistcoat and the redingote took around a week each.
First worn: For the photo above, but I'm hoping to make a proper photo shoot with it soon.
Total cost: The total cost for the whole ensemble is going up towards $250, if you also include the shoes and the stays that I made for it.

What I've learned with this project.
This project is one of the most fun I've done. I've loved learning new things, like making the hat, and I've also for the first time made garments all by hand. At the start of the year I wrote that I hoped to maybe one day make a handsewn garment, and with this costume I've already accomplished that since the waistcoat is all made by hand. I've also learned more about drafting and draping to make my own patterns. I think before I'm going to start a big historical project again I am going to take some time and make a basic bodice block for the 18th century, I've already used the bodice block from the gaulle a lot but it's a bit late in style.

No comments:

Post a Comment