Dressing Queen Victoria

Eve as Queen Victoria-6

This one was a very exciting commission – a friend who often works as Queen Vic needed a new corset.. and a  new bodice and a train to go with the skirt she already had.

After a session of looking at different portraits and photographs of the Queen, with Eve pointing out which features she’d like to include in her bodice or train, we got some sketching done…

Fabric was next – and here we were lucky as got a length of beautiful silk brocade from Quartermasterie – all that i need to grab was silk taffeta for lining and pleats and some lace and buttons….

The corsets was made first –  and it is a rather jazzy affair,  so wont be shown here to preserve the dignity of the monarch, but i bet now a few people who’d meet Eve at work would be wondering what  lingerie secrets her clothes hide ;-0

Eve as Queen Victoria-5

Bodice was a lovely blend of the 1880ties and earlier fashions – sporting a version of pagoda sleeves, apparently quite a favourite of the queen. we also added detachable under sleeves, for colder days .

The lace was simply lush, though applying it took some time, and the underside of the pagoda sleeves was also trimmed with lace, a  more modest version.

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The train was just fun.  The construction was simple – a slightly shaped rectangular fabric, plasted and with tapes and buttons to allow the wearer to bustle to up if needs be. But it was  recreatingthe pleated trim from one of the original photos that was interesting….

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The train has a baleyeuse ( the dust ruffle) made of black cotton lace  buttoned up  – they were  a truly delightful frilly affairs that made life so much easier –  you wash only the ruffle as your skirts are protected.

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The pick up day was also a shoot day as we offered Eve a mini session –  the results below! Hope you like the final result:-)

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train bustled up, no undersleeves

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Train flowing loosely, under sleeves attached

Eve’s  page is here – enjoy browsing!  Queen Victoria

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 Christmas at Holkham Hall

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 For the last two years we were lucky enough to be working at Holkham Hall during their spectacular Christmas events – again organized by  Black Knight Historical .  The venue, located on Norfolk coast, nearby a lovely beach is simply stupendous – indeed it has been used in a few film productions ( The Duchess was, I believe, one of the most recent ones). The Coke family still lives there and it is a real privilage to be able to work in such lavish environment – our favoirite room was the  South Dining Room.

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The room set up for Christmas dinner.

 In the 2011 we spent a weekend  there – and since it was just a few months after our Victorian Wedding, we assumed roles of a newly wed couple on their visiting round. Our task was to interact with the visitors, chatting about  Victorian wedding customs, fashions and dances. We were also scheduled to do a short public talk about Victorian dances and do a Vienesse waltz demonstration.

 

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the Christmas tree in the upper hall

There were lots of interesting things happening around the venue: the kitchens were busy preparing festive food ( lovely stuff by  4and20 Blackbirds), and at noon Her Majesty Queen Victoria ( eve from  Live’n History ) arrived in style.

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 The Queen had a good look around the Hall, and then sat down to tea – and to spend some time chatting with the children.

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Her Majesty, Eleanor as the MIstress of the Robes and two brave girls asking for a position at court no doubt!

 

Altogether two very busy days, in great company and fantastic surroundings. So when we were approached to participate in the 2012 event, for two weekends, we did not hesitate!

 One thing was clear – I needed more frocks! My wedding gown, worn already on several occassions  needed a rest – and I now had a perfect excuse to make some new  Victorian  outfits!  I have decided to wear my 1885 Riding habit on one day, and make a warm 1877 polonaise and a walking dress for the other days.

 The polonaise was based on a fashion plate from Harpers Bazar and I made once before – for one of my bridesmaids. this time i wanted to make one in wool, with decorative border.

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1877 promenade dress in wool

 the other outfit was also based on a fashion plate from the same book.

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autumn costume,1883

 This time the whole of the house was open and the decor was absolutely amazing. the rooms were transformed – and one corridor was made into a lovely winter’s paradise, complete with moving animals!

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the wintery paradise

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 There was a different Christmas tree in every room – my favourite was the one made from the antlers shed by the stags from the local deer park.

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unusual tree!

 

 A different room was set up for the feast, all being prepared by a  an army of servants in the kitchen, and the laying of the table supervised by a dashing butler.

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the maids

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 The yard and the museum were alive with entertainment, Victorian market, photographers carriage rides and storytellers – a little paradice for the kids! Inside the little ones could visit  The Green Man ( the Victorian Santa!). The entrance was guarded – we all felt extra safe with sucha  sentinel!

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 Each room had different interpreters entertaining the public. Lucas, Eleanor and I were in the South Dining room; my role was to talk about the secret language of the fan, Victorian ettiquette, manners and customs. What we did talk about ranged from fans to railways, toys manutacture, corsetry and post cards – absolutely everything, so we had an extremely interesting time – and we talked to  over a couple of thousands people each weekend!

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antique fans at the ready!

 altogheter an action packed  4 days were had – and we did enjoy wearing our new frocks! Here’s Eleanor, resplended in silk taffeta

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Eleanor in her new mouring gown, 1885

  and my promenade dress, which turned out very christmassy and very cosy! – more pictures here

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1877 polonaise

 Am very happy at how wellthe welking outfit turned out – called now The grape dress due to the pattern and the colour of the silks. again, more pictures on my page, here.

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the grape dress

  and , just a few silly pictures of what was happening after hours…

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some were naughty and needed a bit of discipline

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the boys being up to no good no doubt

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corsets? what corsets, all I need is a bit of exercise to keep my waist trim! as if…

 

   And the good news is – we are back for the Victorian Christmas 2013!!!!