Thursday, May 31, 2012

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V152: Costume Analytics: Pehr Hilleström, Kitchen Maid

This week on Costume Analytics, we'll be looking at a wonderful painting by Pehr Hillestrom, entitled "En piga höser såppa utur en kiettel - i en skål," or something along the lines of "Maid Dipping Soup Out of  a Bowl." (Swedish speakers, please help if I've got that wrong!)

This is a great painting because it shows so much, but it is also confusing.  For one, I can't find a date for it.  The artist lived 1733-1816, so my best guess on this painting, based on his years and what the maid is wearing, is sometime in the 1770s.  Her clothing is also very posh for a maid, don't you think?  Let's take a closer look...

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


V151: Vintage Mexican Dress Day

It's been 151 days of livin' la vida vintage, so far this year. least celebrating in some way, big or small, something old and cool every single day, via this blog, and today it's a celebration of this awesome dress my mother bought in Mexico about 25 years ago.

I need to get a cool leather or woven belt instead of this black one, but it's all I had this morning
I know it's hard to swallow 25 years old as "vintage," but the technical, museological definition is only 15 years!   At any rate, I love this dress for so many reasons, one of them being that some lovely little old Mexican lady embroidered this dress completely by hand.  The dress is completely home made, and was made specifically to sell to tourists like my mom, which helped support the families of these amazing craftswomen.
embroidered by hand! This would take me, like, 7 years!
So now it gets a new life in my closet!
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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V150: A "Tudor Tailor" Kirtle in Progress

So it became apparent that a glorious new Elizabethan noble ensemble just wasn't going to happen this year, so it's back to my good ole trusty red jacket I've worn for the past two years.  I do love this jacket, and I love changing the look up - the first year it was aspiring middle class with a tall hat; last year it was lower middle or upper lower, lol, with a wool "Elizabethan ski hat."  Fun times.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

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V149: Taking Stock of Stockings

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know I've been asking around about stockings.  What material, what color you like, etc.  Some more questions are to come, but first, let's look at some gorgeous extant stockings from years gone by.
Bata Shoe Museum
When I say "stockings," I don't mean 20th century nylons, but instead the lovely leg-confections of the past.  I find it ironic that ladies wore such colorful and exciting legwear when most of the time their legs were never seen, and in some periods the glimpse of an ankle was taboo.  Yet the decorations are always on the ankles!  What teases those ladies of the past must have been!

Men wore fanciful stockings too, though, and some of these I will show you are for men, and some for ladies.  See if you can guess which are which. :-)

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

V148: Vote For the Winner of the Poly-Pompadour Contest!

So it's Sunday on a holiday weekend - I hope you're all either out doing awesome costume stuff, or in sewing awesome costume stuff.  If you've got a minute, cast your vote in the Polyvore "Historical Hottie" Pompadour Contest.  Here are the entries (click to see larger version)

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

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V147: Gowns a la Pompadour - 1740s - 1750s

Madame de Pompadour by Boucher, 1759
The 1740s and 1750s in France was the time of large, beautiful Robe a la Francaise gowns, made from stunning textiles, and decorated in all manner of beautiful laces, passementerie, and trimmeries.  Here's what Madame de Pompadour would have sported in her time...

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Friday, May 25, 2012

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V146: Red 18th Century Petticoat with Vandyked Hem

Okay, nothing brilliant today, just wanted to share a finished mini-project with you.  Last weekend I made a petticoat to go with The Revolution Dress.  I found the same red silk still at the shop, a year later, so nabbed some for a matching petti to the polonaise.  I'm pretty bad about making matching ensembles, but they're growing on me...what do you think? too much red?

This is also the first item I have ever sewn entirely by hand!  I'm not sure if I like the profile in front - flat front, pleated back - but I need to put it on with all the proper fluff n' stuff underneath, before the final verdict.

I'm considering taking the lace 1780s style collar off the polonaise and using what's left of the red scraps to pleat a neckline decoration.  Then it will be, like, the reddest gown ever.  What do you think?
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

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V145: Costume Analytics: Madame de Pompadour, c. 1750

It's been a long time since I've done a "Costume Analytics," but now is a good time to bring it back! This time we'll be looking at the famous Madame de Pompadour's Robe a la Francaise, gushing with lace, bows, and ruffles.

What I love about this painting by Boucher, c. 1750, is that it is not the typical Madame de P. portrait, of which there are many.  This painting is loosely painted, in a wonderful limited color palette, and is very "alive."  It helps that Pompadour is wearing an awesome dress, too! So let's take a look at this gorgeous green gown.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012


V144: Pompadour Shoes Giveaway Winner - Gwenyver

Wow! You guys entered the Pompadour French Court Heels giveaway 335 times!

...but there could only be one winner.

Selected by Random Number Generator, at, the winner is...


Gwenyver, I please contact me at [email protected] (or I will track you down), and I'll get you sorted out with your choice of shoesies.

Now, it's okay, I know you're really sad you didn't win the Pompadours of your dreams, but you can still purchase a pair for the sale price ($115 instead of $135), and support our pre-order.  Remember, we have to sell at least 100 pairs to run the style at all - right now we're at 66 pairs sold.  Pompadour needs your help!

If Pomps aren't your thing, the purchase of any other shoes or accessories in le shoppe also helps fund Pompadour, ivory Kensington, and new styles I haven't even told you about yet (but you will be very excited, promise!). Go to le shoppe to have a browse around:

Congratulations again to Gwenyver!
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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V143: Madame de Pompadour in "Dr. Who"

As some of you know, Madame de Pompadour made an appearance in 2006's "Doctor Who," Season 2, Episode 4, "The Girl in the Fireplace."

Is it just me, or were the gowns in this production ridiculously awesome for a TV show?  I appreciate that they took the time to get it right, right down to the winged cuffs on one of Pompadour's earlier gowns.  Go, BBC Wales!

Here are a few screenshots from the episode.  Enjoy!

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Monday, May 21, 2012

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V142: Enter the Pompadour "Historical Hottie" Contest on Polyvore

Are you a Polyvore addict?  How about a contest?

Show off your rococo style using the new American Duchess "Pompadour" shoes, your choice of black, white, or both. Winners will be chosen by popular vote, in one week!:

1st - $15 coupon for
2nd - $10 coupon for
3rd - $5 coupon for

Tell your friends! You can make as many sets as you like, for as many chances to win, just remember they must include the Pompadour French Court Shoes somewhere in the set.

Pompadour - Are You A Historical Hottie?

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Sunday, May 20, 2012


V141: 1865 Gown Remodel DONE!

Once upon a time I made a mid-Victorian gown that didn't really fit.

So I started to remodel it, and got some of the way along, but then stopped.

(How many of you know this story?)

Well, I've finally...finally...finished it.  The Kit Carson Rendezvous is coming up the second weekend of June, here in Northern Nevada, and I thought it was high time I get this refashioned bodice done.  All it needed was a different collar, and finished cuffs.

Luckily I'd found a lacy collar at Sacramento Antiques awhile go.  These are pretty common at antique fairs and stores, and add a great bit of vintage flavor to your costumes.

I pleated the ribbon around the cuffs by hand, and now I'm already thinking it needs more frou-frou, like the inspiration dress from "Costume in Detail."  ... but that is for another day!  For now, it's done, it's wearable, I'm happy. :-)

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

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V140: New Vintage Camera: No.2 Folding Cartridge Hawk-Eye Model B

While in Astoria, Oregon, Carolyn and I visited many an antique shop.  I was delighted to find a whole case full of vintage cameras, many of them folding cartridge styles like this one.  The prices were great, so then it was just a matter of deciding which one.

I didn't have internet access on my phone in the basement of the antique shop, so I had to make a guess as to which camera would be the best choice.  I knew vintage Eastman Kodaks, while very common, are always decent, and there were many to choose from.  I looked for overall condition, then condition of the bellows (the foldy-outy accordian part, often cracked or torn in old cameras), and if it had a functioning shutter.

I decided on this little baby, the No. 2 Folding Cartridge Hawk-Eye, Model B.  This camera was on the market from 1926 to 1934, and you can still buy 120 film for it.

One of my geek-out favorites is taking functional props to historical events - sure, it's cool to carry an original camera around at The Gatsby, but it's far cooler to actually take pictures with it! /geek-squee!

Hawk-eye needs a bit of a cleaning, and a little more oiling of the bellows tracks, but then I'll be ready to pop some 120 black and white film in and take some snaps (all 8 of them, on the roll, lol) at the upcoming Lake Tahoe Gatsby picnic, in August. :-)
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Friday, May 18, 2012

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V139: Costume Painting, Week 6 - Lance the Hunter, 1870s

Last night was the last session of costume painting at the Nevada Museum of Art.  We had a great model, Lance, a hard-core re-enactor.  He talked all about the little authentic bits of his attire, fascinating stuff, from the cut of his trousers, to the off-center set of his collar.  I enjoy listening to him, and painting him too, very much.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

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V138: Early 18th Century Shoes

The met, 1700-1720
Ladies, here is a look at the shoes that inspired "Pompadour."  I spend a lot of time studying extant footwear before we start development on a new historical style, and I look for the "hallmarks" of a certain decade, or span of time.

Have a look with me. :-)  The hallmarks of late 17th century and early 18th century shoes are:

  • Pointed toe
  • Large Louis heel
  • Latchet OR tab closure

The heels of the early 18th c. are often quite high, and actually get shorter further along in the century.  They are broad, chunky, and "waisted," some quite a lot, and some not so much.
Let's compare and contrast...

For Pompadour, the heel we developed is exclusive to American Duchess, and you can expect future mules and latchet Pomps using this same characteristic heel and pointy toe.

So here are the inspirations!...

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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V137: Pompadour Court Shoes Giveaway!

It's that time again! It's Pre-Order time for Pompadours and ivory Kensingtons, which means it's GIVEAWAY time here on le blog.

About the Prize:
The winner of this giveaway will have her choice of a pair of dyeable white or black Pompadour Court Shoes, OR a pair of ivory Kensington Colonial Shoes.

The Pompadours are our latest, stunning historical style, based on extant footwear from the 1680s through the 1740s.  The hand-sewn pointed toes, and custom-made Louis heels would make Madame de Pompadour herself proud, and you can even change the look of your shoes with various ribbon and decorations at the tabbed ties.

How to Enter the Drawing:

1. Blog - Write about this giveaway on your own blog. Feel free to use any of the images and information. Leave a link in the comments section of this post. If you've already blogged about the Pompadour and Kensington pre-sale or this giveaway, you can still enter, just leave a link in the comments section. (anonymous comments, please leave your name and contact method)

2. Tweet about the pre-sale or giveaway - be sure to leave a link to your tweet in the comments section of this post, so you are entered into the giveaway.
3. Facebook about the pre-sale - Post a link to on your Facebook page, and leave a comment on this post to enter the drawing.

4. Pin on Pinterest - pin any images of the Pompadours or ivory Kensingtons from here on the blog, this post, or  Leave a link to your pin in the comments section, to enter.

 5. Share in ANY other way - share a link to using any other method, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Google+, etc. Leave a comment on this post, so you are entered in the drawing.

*If you do all of these things, you will be entered each time, just leave as many comments on this post as places you shared. 

The winner will be selected by random number generator on May 23rd - one week from today, and will be sent their shoes in early August, when the new shipment arrives.

*Please note that if the Pompadour style is canceled due to not enough support, the winner of the giveaway will not receive her shoes. :-(
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

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V136: Butchart Gardens, The Empress Hotel, and Costumery in BC

The Sunken Garden at Butchart Gardens, planted 100 years ago in a quarry.
The last day of my cruise with Lady Carolyn was spent in gorgeous Victoria, British Columbia.  We visited Butchart Gardens, AKA Paradise, and stuck our heads in the exquisite Empress Hotel.

The Empress Hotel, truly stunning
Carolyn and I dressed 1920s for the day, she in her adorable sporting togs, and I in my tennis dress.

Carolyn - doesn't this thing go any faster!?
This pathway at Butchart Gardens felt like we'd been transported to Middle Earth

Only one gratuitous flower picture, promise!
A little watercolor painting in the Japanese Gardens.  The whole place was overwhelming - photos and paintings (at least not mine) don't capture it
For the last evening, Carolyn decided to go out with a bang, and don her enormous bustle gown.  She brought it, why not wear it!  I wore a brown 1950s cocktail dress I made earlier this year, along with the large fur musher's cap I found in San Francisco.

It was sad to leave the wonderful world of our floating hotel.  We ended in Vancouver, but didn't get to tour any of the city - straight to the airport and home to Reno, for us.  What an experience, though!
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Monday, May 14, 2012

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V135: Pompadour French Court Heels Pre-Order, and MORE

Back to work! It's time FINALLY for the Pompadour French Court Heels PRE-SALE! (big cheer!)

I've been working on this shoe for what feels like forever, getting the toe just that right amount of pointy, and really spending a lot of development time perfecting the super-swoopy Louis heel.  These have been custom made just for these shoes, and have all the balance and style of the originals from the early 18th century.
The original design for Pompadour
So come and get 'em!  Here are the particulars:

  • Pomps come in dyeable ivory or black jacquard, with a matching leather-covered heel.
  • They close with tabs, with a ribbon - we've provided one with your new shoes, but lace any color, width, or design ribbon through, to change up the look whenever you like.
  • The heel is 2.5 inches, and properly flared - you won't be sinking into grass in these.
  • The toe is very pointy, just right for the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
  • The pre-order price is $115, and the regular price is $135
  • Get them on sale May 14th - June 1st.
  • We need to sell about 100 pairs to make the production run, so if you need these shoes in your life, please share the news with your costume buds.  If we don't meet the minimum, all orders will be refunded in full, and the Pompadours will not be made.
  • Estimated delivery is early August 2012 - we've implemented a whole mess of systems and measures to improve our speed of manufacture as well as quality, but if we have a delay, I'll let you know right away.

Guess what else?

Ivory Kensingtons, 1770-1780s, are also available to pre-order now, for the same $99 price as the red and black Kensingtons earlier this year.  These are dyeable calf leather, with that lovely French heel and pointed toe.

And what's more?

Other stuff is on sale!  We're making room for new shoes, so it's time to clear out the old stuff - Georgiana silk, and Devonshire dyeable leather 18th century shoes are on sale - $85 and $99 respectively.  We're not running these styles again, so if you like that wider fit and rounded toe, grab yourself a pair or two of what's left.

Get your Georgies and Devvies on clearance here.

And finally - FINALLY - Astorias are here.  After all that hullabaloo, they've arrived and we're shipping them as you read this.  We have plenty available in both black and ivory, so if you've been waiting for them to come in to stock, now is your time.

Okay, Lovelies! If you have any questions, drop Chris or me a line at [email protected] .

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