Monday, November 16, 2015

The Making of a Crimson Peak Inspired Ballgown

As mentioned in my previous post, the San Francisco Edwardian Ball is coming up in January.
This gives me plenty of time to make something new just for the occasion, and Crimson Peak is full of inspiring material.
Over the weekend, I was able to track down a lovely synthetic duchess satin that didn't break the bank, at $4.98 per yard. Though I wanted so badly to buy silk, I need to be frugal this year. On the plus side, since it's synthetic it will be easier to wash after an evening of revelry!
The other nifty thing about this particular weave of fabric, is that it behaves like a heavy silk and while slightly springier, it's without the overly shiny surface many polyester or acetate satin fabrics have. I'll just need to really utilize some good shirring and tacking stitches on the bodice to get it laying nicely if I do any pleats or gathers for texture.
Initially I planned on finding a nice pale gold, but the only thing I found that I liked, and was bright enough without being too saturated or dusty, was an expensive silk. So blush it will be...

Indeed, I could just do an all-out cosplay and make a copy of her ballgown, but there are things about it that didn't really woo me. The fit and length of her bodice for one. This gown is the one costume in the film I feel that could have been tailored more appropriately for the era it was set in. Everything else about it was lovely; the minimal straps were fine for the era, including the pearl decoration and that spectacular matching evening cloak.
Additionally, I kind of want to do my own thing with this.


After comparing a warm, super pale blush color, to a candlelight ivory (both similar to Edith's ballgown in the film) I decided to go with the ivory.
I also want mine to tell a different story. It's one that follows Edith's dreams after her escape from Crimson Peak; incorporating the stain of blood red on snow and skin, and her waltz with Sir Thomas. How does a person just walk away from a traumatic and heartbreaking experience like that, and start over? Simple answer; you don't, not completely. It haunts you, and like some sage advice given to me once on the subject of grieving and trauma, "You carry it with you. The trick is *how* you carry it".
Edith indeed has a strength and resiliency that we don't see much of in female leads, particularly in historical drama and Gothic romance. But while she will obviously be able to carry on and be happy, how have her dreams changed when she closes her eyes each night?

As you can see in the above on-set images, the color of her dress changes with the light; sometimes almost ivory and other times more pink, it's warmed by the candlelight in the room. Hers was a very soft ivory blush duchess silk satin, and the photo of my blush fabric isn't quite accurate either, and more pink due to lighting.
This is another reason I wanted to go with as pale a color as possible, like the candlelight ivory, to keep me from resembling a walking Valentine's day card. I'm combining it with a rich red velvet, and a few other details I'll divulge later.
Since I don't have a nice evening coat or cape earlier than 1940, I'd like to try and make a version of her cloak, too. Especially with that amazing shirred stand-up collar!

As for the patterns I'm basing this gown off of, I've decided on two by Truly Victorian.
The 1903 trumpet skirt (works for 1901 too) and possibly the 1890s ballgown bodice, the latter of which I'll alter a bit to fit my needs and be more Edwardian. I may not need it at all.
I nearly went with the 1893 Bell Skirt, but after having made that skirt up before, I realized it's a different silhouette than the sylph-like lines I want for this gown.

The paintings by Boldini were a big inspiration for me, and I imagine nearly all the gowns shown in the ballroom scene of Crimson Peak. If you look at more of Boldini's works featuring women, a good portion of them were represented in that one scene in the film. Particularly Edith, and the rival ladies vying for the attention of Sir Thomas. Even works by John Singer Sargent such as this one, acutely resembling the rival's mother.
It's always interesting when life, or in this case film, imitates other types of art in a wonderful way.


1 comment:

  1. These dresses are looking very pretty and seductive dear. Well, I also have already purchased the dress for my wedding and now I am going to book a finest wedding venue New York for my special day.


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