The Return of Mademoiselle Guimard

This time last year I was excited about a project I never completed. Let’s rather say I just haven’t completed it yet.

But I haven’t forgotten, or gotten over my interest in this incredible painting of Mademoiselle Guimard, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1790:

Mademoiselle Guimard by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1790

A year ago I started and failed at this costume. I had deconstructed my blue Lacma Sacque-ma to use the silk for Guimard’s robe, but alas it was not to be. Way  back when I dyed the silk brocade, weird things happened, and the fabric took on a strange life of its own that made it really hard to work with. I was also too excited hasty and cut it all stupid and it just didn’t work out.

A year later, Guimard has come back to me. I’ve been thinking about what to make for the Costume College gala this year. Last year my dress was huge and sparkly, so it’s difficult to not feel pressured (self-pressure) to somehow top that this year. I know that’s nonsense, but the gala is that one big event of the year to really hammer down on a fantabulous costume. In thinking about this, the bright colors and many layers and textures of Guimard’s costume came to mind.

I also have quite a lot of the fabrics still waiting patiently. Here’s my sketch:

I’ve broken down the costume into three main piece:

1. The puffy poof pants. We can’t see what Guimard is wearing in the painting, but this fashion plate of a very similar costume shows harem pants. Mine will be bright coral pink and enormously poofy.

More about The Orphan of China and The Sultana – click through 

2. The gown. I will make this as a garment all its own, most like a Robe a l’Anglaise, but since this is a theatrical costume, I plan to make the skirt short and one side split, so I can pull it up the way Guimard has done in the portrait.

3. The robe. Blue silk lined in green silk, trimmed on the edges with brown faux fur. This will be constructed like an open robe or polonaise, cut all in one at the back with stacked box pleats and a train.

Accessories – a wide silk sash and red belt; turban; some really interesting shoes (of course!)

So that’s the plan! This time I’m starting with the poofy pants and working my way out. The most challenging piece will again be the robe, but I have a much better plan, more skill, and non-weird-grain fabric to work with. I’m excited!


  • The Quintessential Clothes Pen

    February 13, 2016 at 1:13 AM

    Interesting project! It's nice to go back to something that was never completed and actually finish it. I look forward to seeing progress on this ensemble!


    • Lauren Stowell

      February 13, 2016 at 8:07 PM

      I have some things on my "normal/vintage" sewing list to check off first, but I'm hoping to get started on this project sooner rather than later. I know that Costume College deadline will be upon us quickly!

  • L. R. Stern

    February 13, 2016 at 2:37 AM

    Hooray! I made poofy pants for the first time this fall, and they were a ton of fun to wear. I hope working on this is immensely satisfying!

  • Theresa in Mèrida

    February 13, 2016 at 2:04 PM

    This is utterly fabulous. The richness of the fabrics combined with the embroidery makes me drool. The print makes me want to make the outfit, don't worry I'm not going to. I can't wait to see the final results.


    • Lauren Stowell

      February 13, 2016 at 8:08 PM

      Thank you! I have some embroidery on my gown fabric, but the embroidered edges might take some thinking through…I can omit them or come up with some options. I don't really want to hand embroider it…

  • Amanda

    February 13, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    I just love 18thc European Turkish (well, "Turkish", haha) costume…I think this is a splendid idea for the gala!

    (Also, I started a Turkish costume of my own in, um, 2012, and got to the smock and the trousers before I wandered off, so you're doing better than I am, LOL! And now of course I think they're rubbish so I have to start over anyway…)

  • Joy C

    February 14, 2016 at 1:42 AM

    How inspiring! I love your sketch so much–it's fun to peek "behind the scenes" of other people's designs. Thanks for sharing that and all of your excellent posts. And as others have said, I'm really looking forward to seeing the final ensemble.

  • Colleen

    February 14, 2016 at 4:21 AM

    I'm kind of horrified that you deconstructed that fabulous blue gown. It was the first project I saw of yours and it was exquisite! But can't wait to see your new project. 🙂

  • Colleen

    February 14, 2016 at 4:21 AM

    I'm kind of horrified that you deconstructed that fabulous blue gown. It was the first project I saw of yours and it was exquisite! But can't wait to see your new project. 🙂

  • Chicken

    February 15, 2016 at 7:21 PM

    I think I will be on pins and needles (sewing pun intended) until we see the finished costume! Oh how I wish I could make it to CoCo!!!


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