Monday, May 30, 2011

{Textiles} Belle Epoque/Gilded Age Wedding Gown

I'm not planning on getting married anytime soon. But I was struck, out of nowhere to attempt a design for a wedding gown of the Belle Epoque era. The Belle Epoque and Gilded Age eras were one and the same, and given different names based on region: the Belle Epoque was the era in Europe and the UK, and the Gilded Age was its counterpart in the United States. They were the last years of the rule of Queen Victoria, and the beginning of King Edward's rule: the late 19th century through to World War I. They were years of tight corsets, large bustles, flowing skirts, and elaborate hats.

I was thinking Scotland when I designed this garment. In my research I found most brides of Scotland wore exactly the same fashions as those in England, except perhaps with the addition of tartan. Obviously this gown lacks tartan, but I still had Scotland in mind. I also was aiming a bit more towards the late Victorian end of things, but the end result was more that of the Edwardian years.

I wrote a few notes on the dress on the sketch page, but I tend to have horrid writing, so I'll repeat them and elaborate here. *eyes the notes* It seems some of them are incomplete, at that. That's what I get for sketching sleepy.

The base fabric for the corset and skirt is a pale cream satin. The skirt has a petticoat of many layers of soft fabric or lace, as well as the bustle (which is not near as extravagant as some of the time). The skirt's overlay, the corset stomacher, and the rest of the bodice is of pale cream chiffon that has been richly embroidered, decorated, and beaded. The designs of that decoration are rather generic on the bodice and skirt overlay, but the stomacher has a more specific pattern of decoration to it. The corset edges are bound in shiny satin ribbon. The sheer fabric of the bodice is gathered into a high necked collar, which is of gathered lace attached to ribbon.

The veil is of simple cream chiffon, edged in perhaps the same embroidery and beading as the skirt and stomacher posses, but otherwise plain and unadorned. It is long, but does not trail, and attaches to the hair by two flower pins/combs that attach to the side of the head. THAT is likely not nearly so period-accurate (I did not research the veils), nor is the bodice fabric's sheerness, but I liked the way it looked. The hair is left down underneath, or perhaps has some at the top twined into some half-updo to give the pins a base to be attached to. There are two curls left down on either side of the face. This wedding dress is meant for early/mid Spring and outdoors, and so some cover to the skin while still allowing for air is ideal.

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