Eleanor through the ages

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 A slightly different post –  mostly to honour one of my most loyal customers – or, to be precise, a customer who, though the years of stitching, fittings, events etc, has became a very close friend. Eleanor now has a rather full wardrobe of Prior Attrie outfits, from medieval to Victorian –  and  I am going to present some of them below.

 The first contact was made through Ebay – Eleanor wanted to purchase one of the frocks i was selling – but needed it shorter..

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the houppelande on offer…

Shortening the gown was no problem, so we met at one of the markets and I have sorted it on the spot.. and that’s how it started… that is also how I met Ian from Black Knight Historical – but this i think will be another post… 🙂

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the gown on Eleanor, as Margaret Paston here

 12th century

 A gown fit for a queen – clothes for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine

kirtle in silk, dress in silk with ornamental borders, veil and wimple

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 13th century 

 middle / lower class kirtle and dress in wool

Image and another early 13th frock, here at the fitting – wool with embroidery

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14th century

 a surcoat in cloth of gold – another queenly garment…

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 and a bit more modest, a nun’s outfit – 13-14th century

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15th century

 most of the work here was either kirtles for the camp or burgundian gowns – i have made 3… some of them below…

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at Tewkesbury

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Tewkesbury Abbey

16th Century

 here we started with an upper-middle class merchant’s wife..

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at kelmarsh

 a bit posher…

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at Blickling Hall, with a silk kirtle

and a silk velvet gown, for Peterborough cathedral

Image  An  early Elizabethan outfit – loose gown over a silk kirtle ( the same kirtle as above btw – it is reversible, plain gold on one side, brocade on the other….., coif and a cap

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  17th century 

 alas, nothing as yet…. i think…

 18th century

 a pair of brocaded stays, silk petticoat and brocade jacket. event blog here

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 19th century

 Regency – a gown in silk – here as a Mrs. Bennett, with me as her daughter – more details of the event here

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 Victorian

 a schoolmistress/egyptologist just a jacket by me. my first ever Victorian item too!

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 was a 1883 suit for my wedding – Eleanor was my Matron of Honour:-)

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then the mourning gown – work at Holkham ( blog  here)

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1885 mourning gown

 and a 1884 evening gown, also worn for our Spectacular Ball

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 I even did a Halloween corset and skirt for Eleanor – here worn for our Steampunk dinner at Coombe Abbey last autumn – not a best photo but we were too busy eating and having fun – so it is almost the only one I think…

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  and for the time being – that’s it! Many thanks to Eleanor for being a perfect client and a perfect friend – hope you enjoyed the journey too!

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Victorian Delights in Leighton House, Hondon

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Victorian Delights  take place in Leighton House, London in May – the event is a part of a nationwide  themed events called Museums at Night, when museums stay open after hours and provide some additional entertainment. Prior Attire has been honoured to participate in the event for the second time this year – though this post will share the impressions from both 2012 and 2013 events.

2012.

  Our first time in Leighton House – and what a spectacular place! We were hired to provide background characters for the Victorian Themed event – and the 3 of us:  our friend Eve, my husband Lucas and me, made our way to London on a rather rainy Friday afternoon. Our job was to mingle with the visitors, pose for photographs and generally provide inspiring conversation and serve as a Victorian eye candy.

 we all dress ed the part – Eve, was happy to wear her new dress I have just finished for her – in bright colours, a start contrast to her usual black – Eve often works as Queen Victoria, hence the mourning… on this occasion, she adopted a different character – a garishly dressed wife of a Nuveau Riche  – a stair rod seller.

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  Lucas and I however at that time did not have much of a choice as far as Victorian garb was involved – we both wore our wedding outfits – very suitable since a bride would be wearing her wedding satins in the 2 years following her nuptials, when she was visiting relatives etc. still, the clothes worked well, and I even aquired a proper Victorian sketching pad and a pencil – I do draw and since Leighton House is all about art, it was a suitable think to carry – and use, and it served very well as a conversational gambit.

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 The  hours passed quickly on chatting, drawing, posing, more chatting – altogether a very good time was had by all.

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Lucas and Noe, the chap in charge of the museum and the event

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at the end of the day it got a bit informal- even unpinned my train as the staff demanded the full view:-)

 Altogether, a lovely event and it was great to be involved.  The following year, with a few mprovements, we vowed, would be even better.

 And you know what?

 It was…

 2013

 This time it was arranged for a bigger scope – and the event had a much more structured feel to it.  Again, Prior Attire was hired – as was Eve, in her traditional capacity as Queen Victoria.  Eve’s husband, Steve  assumed the role of Sir Henry Ponsonby, the Queen’s private secretary, and our friend, Eleanor, was her Mistress of the Robes.

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  Lucas and I were a part of the retinue – again mingling and chatting, mostly talking about Victorian etiquette and manners, especially important as the Queen was holding an audience, so it was the responsibility of us all to make ure her Majesty is addressed properly . I also delivered a talk on the secret language of the fan, demonstrating how a simple fashion accessory can be instrumental in sending  messages to eligible men….

 The  evening was great – lovely weather, lots of interesting people flocking into the Hous, period music playing in the background, people queuing for the caricaturist, discussing art, manners – or shady medicinal knowledge with the quack…  and evening not to be forgotten!

Image Also, this year the staff dressed up too – and I was happy to provide some of my gowns for hire. here girls in all their finery!

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 at the end of the day, traditionally, we indulged in a little photo shoot – enjoy!

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Eleanor in her Prior Attire frock

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The staff

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the girls and the fans!

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Lucas being suave…

 my new gown definitely went well with the surroundings! more on the gown’s creation hereImage

 and so, after another  successful night, we are hoping that  next year it will be just as good – or Better! 🙂

Victorian Commission part 2: Kiddies’ stuff!

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  Following the first part of that exciting commission, when 7 Victorian outfits from 1865-1885 were made, a follow up order for children’s clothing was placed. Once again i was delighted to be working on the project – especially, since just like with the first one,  apart from generic guidelines, I had more or less free rein as far as the embellishment etc was concerned.  Basic parameters established – size ( age), cut, inspiration pictures, fabrics etc – it was time to get sewing!

 btw – I also did some research,and learnt a lot – one of the best sites was this one – http://www.victorianlondon.org/cassells/cassells-15.htm – with lots of original text outlining the children’s clothes, notes ad pictures  and other useful info – recommended!

1. a dress for a 3-4 year old girl, in cream moire, with a petticoat in cotton and a pair of bloomers – all with the same lace. the undergarments would also go with the next dress

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the undies!

the detail of the fabric and the pintucks – pintucks were perfect fr adapting the skirts as the girl grew – you simply undid them. Flounces  and other decorative items were often used to cover the seams where a skirt had a panel added to lengthen it – very clever:-)

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 I was lucky enough to secure a model for this dress as well – a bit too young, so the skirt is a tad too long and the bodice too big, but little Cobi’s debut as a model was a success!

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2. a dress for a 5-6 year old, in blue/grey cotton with blue silk taffeta decoration – loosely based on the picture:

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and the rendition:

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3. a dress for a 7-8 year old girl, in pink and navy silks to match the 1885 adult costume

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the inspiration picture for the girl’s dress:

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and the result:

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dummy too big – so not buttoned up to the end! 😦

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side view, with the little bustle at the back:-)

and the undergarments for this dress and the next – another pair of bloomers and a petticoat

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  the next 3 dresses were based on the frocks in this picture:

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4 – a dress for a 9-10 y.o. – a summer affair in lawn with velvet ribbon decoration – and interpretation of the  outfit on the left.

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worn on the bloomers and petticoat shown before

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5. a dress for a  11-12 y.o – in green cotton, with navy velvek and checj ribbons,  inspired by the dress of the other standing girl, on the right.

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the dummy is getting too small now..

this dress  will form a match to the adult dress in similar colour:

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6. and the last one,  for a 13-14 year old – inspired by the sitting girl. A polonaise in black velvet with contrasting skirt, decorated with ribbons and antique lace. Again, note the pin tucks and the velvet guard ( and the dagged trim in the original) – all clever devices to allow for lengthening the skirts:-). forgive the quality of the pics – had a bran new phone and was still trying to get to grips with the camera! 😦

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 underneath there was another petticoat, much more suited to the Natural Form era, and closely mimicking the styles of a grown up lingerie:_)

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this particular frock was a match from this, a bit later, adult dress:

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 Altogether, an immensely enjoyable  and at the same time educational commission – cannot wait for the pictures from the studio – will be great to see them being worn by mothers and daughters! 🙂