Wednesday, August 28, 2019

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Coco 2019 Gala - 1830s Explosion!

For this year's Costume College gala, the theme was "The Opulent Streets of Venice," which can be, well, anything really!

Abby, Chrissy, and I decided to be opulently wide and fluffy, so we donned our 1830s silk dresses. We originally made these gowns for Dickens Fair last Christmas, so Coco was only the second time wearing them for me and Abby, the third for Chrissy.

me, Chrissy, and abby  - we're nothing if not colorful! I brought back some Venetian masks from our trip last October and have been stashing them for this event all this time.
We tracked down Anne Lister! Cathy Hay attracted the attention of many an 1830s lady that night.
It's a p.i.t.a. to travel with bonnets by plane, especially really huge 1830s ones, so Chrissy and I opted to make ridiculous barbe caps - or "lizard caps" as we now call them. Both of our caps are made from vintage cotton organdy and trimmed in broad ribbons.

Chrissy's lizard cap is extra. EXTRA with more extra thrown in.
I made a mistake on mine which meant the ruffles weren't as big as intended, but Chrissy's came out *HUGE* and *FABULOUS*! If you'd like the gridded pattern for this cap, it's available over on our Patreon.

My favorite view of 1830s dress is the back because those sleeve are just beyoooooond

Abby's gorgeous plaid gowns. I just love this thing.
We had a great time bouncing down the Red Carpet, then we headed over to the nearby mall for dinner. There were Bird Scooters on the way, so naturally, as one is really obligated to do in historic dress, we spent a few moments zipping around the mall like hooligans.

All-in-all it was a fabulous evening of fluffy-puffy-silliness, and now we're all off on a bender making more 1830s gowns to do silly things in. Stay tuned for shenanigans! #gigotgirlgang
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Friday, August 23, 2019

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Photo Shoot: An Afternoon in the 1890s

Abby Cox in 1890s splendor in Virginia City, Nevada
A little while back, Nicole and Abby got dressed up in late 19th century attire and we dashed up to Virginia City, our local olde westy historical towne, to take a few photos.

The gorgeous costumes are two made by Nicole, beautiful woolen creations with gobs of embroidery, soutache braid, velvet and faux fur trim. It's hard to decide which one I like better - the chartreuse suits Abby perfectly, and Nicole slays in her burgundy and cream design.

Nicole Rudolph and Abby Cox in 1890s attire - Virginia City, Nevada

Tavistock Button Boots, one of our most popular designs.

For being the high desert, we managed to get a quite rainy day in Virginia City, which - to be honest - was no bad thing. It meant that this normally tourist-rammed location was essentially empty, the light was soft and flattering, and it wasn't roasting hot.

Live Music!

Check out the details on Nicole's incredible gown.

Gibson Victorian/Edwardian Shoes paired with our Edwardian Silk Stockings.
We try to make photo shoots a regular thing, especially when we have new shoes or boots (or we've, uh, never actually photographed an older style...uhhh....). It felt great to play dress up and go take photos in a place that, for once, we didn't have to "mask" and pretend was 18th century France. Virginia City is a wonderful, original silver mining town, and is fun to visit on any day, but is always made even better by historical dress.


I hope you enjoy these photos! Here's the details:

Models - Abby Cox & Nicole Rudolph
Gowns - Nicole Rudolph
Shoes, Boots, & Stockings - "Tavistock" Victorian Button Boots and "Gibson" Edwardian Shoes from
Location - Virginia City, Nevada
Photography & Videography - Lauren Stowell & Jenny Smith
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Monday, August 19, 2019

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Event Announcement: 18th Century Hair at National Arts Club, NYC

News! Abby and I are back to the incredible National Arts Club in New York City on September 13th, 2019, to do an 18th century hair demo and talk all about the Hairy Styles of the Georgian era.

This event is free and open to the public so long as you RSVP. Space is limited at NAC, so don't wait to register. Last time it was standing room only!

The particulars:

American Duchess: 18th Century Hair
September 13, 2019
7 pm

The National Arts Club
16 Gramercy Park S
New York, NY 10003

Free with RSVP, which you can do on Facebook or Eventbrite.

There will be a bookseller there with a limited number of #ADBeauty books, and we'll happily sign them for you!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Coco2019: Our Lore Olympus Cosplay

Back again with more sharing from Costume College 2019!

Each year there is a pool party on Thursday night to kick off the Costume College weekend. The theme for the pool party this year was "Garments of the Galaxy," which could mean any number of things, and opened up of creative opportunities. There were Star Wars and Star Trek characters, nebulous vintage dresses, Dr. Who and Marvel outfits, and so much more.

Somewhat on a whim, the AD crew decided to go as characters from a favorite webtoon called "Lore Olympus." (This was Nicole's fault; she was going to low-key go as Hecate and not tell anybody, but she let it slip at dinner one night, and it was all downhill from there).

We did a makeup test a week before we left for Coco. It got weird...
Lore Olympus, by Rachel Smythe, is a creative and beautifully illustrated re-telling and re-interpretation of the myth of Persephone and Hades, along with many more of the Greek gods and goddesses and parts of their stories. The characters are dressed in modern clothing but each have bold, colorful complexions, making parts of this cosplay very easy and other parts much more challenging.

Chrissy working on her Persephone makeup before the pool party at Coco - it legit took us longer to get into this cosplay than ANY of our historical outfits.
The clothing was easy to find, much of it from our own closets. The makeup was on the complex side (well, for those of us uninitiated into the magical world of theatrical maquillage). We used Mehron Makeup Paradise AQ Face & Body Paint cake makeup in about three different shades for each color, to do the base, shadows, and highlights.

Ready to go!
Additionally, pretty heavy eye and brow makeup, various glittery products for cheekbones, and strong lip colors completed the transformations. For limbs, Abby and Chrissy wore opaque colored tights and applied the Mehron makeup to their arms. Abby went a little further and dusted herself with gold glitter, which promptly covered everything she touched, her entire dress, and began somehow multiplying in her palms.

Chrissy as Persephone, rocking her own short, curly, pink hair. The dress was a cheapy bought online, the cape made for the occasion.
Chrissy and Nicole wore their own hair (yes, Chrissy's hair is pink!), but Abby and I went the wig route. My go-to place for cosplay wigs is Arda Wigs, which offers a ton of colors. They're very easy to dye and style, too.

Abby rocked it as Hera in a a caped dress, golden wig, and tons of glitter.
For Hades I didn't have much choice (almost everything on the Arda website was sold out - con season, yo), so I didn't get the skin-top mostly-there white wig I was hoping for, but I made it work with a Kyle Classic in pure white. I have minimal experience in restyling wigs, but Arda has a ton of helpful tutorials on their Youtube channel, and I've done a smidge of this-and-that over the years with dyeing and re-shaping synthetic hair. Hades' hair is a tricky style for a full-coverage, hard-front wig - really short in back and up off the forehead in front - so I ended up with kindof a feminized version, which worked just fine short of dyeing and cutting my own hair. I mixed blue-grey acrylic paint into rubbing alcohol and brush it on with a toothbrush, to dye the white hair and give the wig some dimension. Then I cut it (experience cutting a dude's hairstyle: 0) and shaped it by clipping sections into place and hitting them with the garment steamer, which works like *magic*!

Upper left and center is the Kyle wig right out of the package, and lower left, center, and the rightmost is where it ended up with dyeing, cutting, and steaming.
Short of going on and on and on about how much fun we had and how awesome it felt to be blue all night, here's a short little video of how this all came together:

Here are some more photos. Why the heck not:
Hera and Persephone a bit at odds, perhaps.

Hecate and Hades - really hard to hold a straight face when you're blue.

Hades and Persephone - okay, so none of the angst of the comic characters, but c'mon...this was too fun!
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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

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Costume College 2019

American Duchess crew in 18th century attire - Friday night at Costume College 2019
Another year, another fabulous Costume College!

If you're unfamiliar with Costume College, it's a 5-day costuming convention in Woodland Hills, California, at the end of July each year. During the day there are all sorts of classes for historical dress and cosplay, and in the evenings there are social events. There's also a marketplace, costume display, and meetups. You can learn more about Costume College here.

This year the crew - Abby, Nicole, Chrissy, and myself - did a few group costumes. At the Thursday night pool party we all dressed as characters from the webtoon Lore Olympus (read it. do it now.), which involved a lot of body paint, wigs, and general chicanery.

Our group "Lore Olympus" cosplay - Chrissy as Persephone, Lauren as Hades, Abby as Hera, and Nicole as Hecate
On Friday, after classes, we all dressed in late 18th century attire (are these our everyday clothes now?) and did a book signing for "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty."

The #ADBeauty book sold out at the book signing on Friday night at Costume College! Whoo!
Saturday was GALA! The Time Traveler's Gala is always the high point of Costume College, everyone's chance to wear their best and boldest outfit of the year. Chrissy, Abby, and I represented the #GigotGirlGang in our utterly silly 1830s, and Nicole was resplendent in 1920s velvet and silk.

Lauren, Chrissy, and Abby rockin' the early 1830s at the gala on Saturday night.

Nicole slays in 1920s velvet and satin at the Costume College Gala, 2019
By Sunday we were all a bit fried (to be expected after a night of sleeve puffs, scooters, and shenanigans), and we had a nice low-key business lady's class, a few naps, and a final hurrah at the Trunk Show.

Abby, Lauren, and Cynthia of Redthreaded answering question at the costume business lady's panel on Sunday at Costume College.
All in all it was an epic event, as it is every year. We got a chance to see friends from all over and meet lots of new ones, and we're already looking forward to next year. I have some posts to do on our specific outfits coming up, but for now we hope you enjoy this short behind-the-scenes look at Costume College 2019. <3
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