Monday, October 31, 2011

Miss Havisham Halloween Costume: The Result

This is my Miss Havisham costume. I tried it on the night before the party and was satisfied. But I decided not to use the cobwebs since I couldn't find a way to attach them without sewing them onto the fabric, which I didn't want to do.

I wasn't barefoot at the party, though. I had no luck finding a pair of white slippers or ballet flats (winter is coming and shops are pretty low on these kind of shoes), so I ended up wearing a pair of white lace stockings. 

This was the final result

And here is a close-up of my makeup and hair.

I was trying to create a ringlet hairstyle similar to the one above, but my stubborn hair refused to stay curly. But, in the end, it worked well enough since Miss Havisham should have a general air of negligence about her. I've also applied some baby powder to my hair to make it look gray. It's a good trick, but you really need a lot of powder and even if you set it with hairspray it tends to slowly disappear. 
I loved putting together this costume and the evening was a great success. Though I was slightly annoyed that nobody recognized me. It may be due to the fact that no one at the party has ever read 'Great Expectations'. Can't wait to start working on my next year's costume. 

Happy Halloween!

Fancy Dress Ideas Victorian Style

Source: La Mode Illustree, France,1887 
A dragon fly, a little Japanese girl and different (board) games.  

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fancy Dress Ideas Victorian Style

Source: La Mode Illustree, France, 1888 

An Incroyable, a little gypsy girl and Empress Josephine (Regency lady).  

Great Halloween Ideas from Take Back Halloween

My Halloween costume was good and ready by Thursday night and, just when I was happy with what I was going to be, I came across this.

Ada Lovelace Costume from Take Back Halloween
I want it!

Not many people know who Ada Lovelace is, and that's a shame. She was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron. And she was the mother of programming. That's right, she was writing the first programs for the proto-computer created by Charles Babbage.

This costume is from an amazing website called Take Back Halloween: A Costume Guide for Women with Imagination. The idea behind the site is that it has become increasingly common for women to dress up in 'sexy something' costumes. While there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to look nice or sexy on Halloween, most of these ill-fitting polyester numbers are silly, demeaning or downright offensive. And some are just bizarre. So, the folks over at Take Back Halloween came up with this great costume resource  honoring some great women of history: activists, queens, heroines, goddesses and stars.    

I've already picked two costumes for next year's Halloween 


Emma Goldman 

A few other great Halloween costumes ideas: Jane Austen, Pele, Nzinga, Josephine Baker, Sappho.    

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Miss Havisham Halloween Costume: The Makeup

The secret to a great Miss Havisham costume is, of course, the make up. Though she is often portrayed as an old hag, Dickens's notes suggest that she is only in her mid-fifties. However, living without active pursuits, sunlight or happiness can leave one looking much older than one's years.

There are many great 'aged' makeup tutorials online, so here are just a few of my favorite ones.

This is really great and easy to do.

Miss Havisham Halloween Costume: The Look

Miss Havisham's look is eerie and Gothic. There are many ways to bring this character to life and my initial idea was to use this for inspiration
Source: The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes
This is the crone's dress from Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow (1999). It's tattered and old and spooky, so it would have been perfect for Miss Havisham. The veil is also a nice touch. It obscures the face and makes the whole silhouette more ghost-like. 

But I decided not to use a veil since they tend to get really cumbersome at a party.  I am also going to use my Mom's dress and I don't want to shred or dye it to get this tattered look.    
The Crone's Dress, bodice detail
However, I do love the cobwebs, and I will hopefully achieve something very similar with my bag of decorative spider webs. 

In different film versions Miss Havisham has very different hair. 

There is the crazy, puffy hair that makes me think of  late 18th century.  

There is a more sweet and girly 'Victorian' look with curls that reminds you that this old, bitter woman was once young and carefree.

In one of the more recent films, which was clearly trying to match the costumes to the time frame of the story, there is a more sophisticated and polished hairstyle to go with a regency wedding gown. 

But I think, my own hairstyle will largely depend on how much time I'll have before the party. I will probably go with a very simple up-do of some sort and add a few flowers to make it look more bridal. This way I can spend more time on my makeup.   

Miss Havisham Halloween Costume: The Prep Work

When it comes to fancy dress, Miss Havisham is a very easy character to bring to life. Here are the bits and bobs that will help me embody this bitter, vengeful lover of vintage and cobwebs.

A watch
Miss Havisham's world stopped the moment she had heard of her fiances's betrayal. In fact, she ordered all her clocks to be stopped at that exact moment - twenty minutes to nine.  

I don't have a real pocket watch, but I do have this lovely little necklace from H&M. The clock face is just a picture inside a frame, so I made a new picture with the correct time, aged the paper with tea to give it a yellowish tint and attached it to the frame.

The paper flowers I got from a local crafts shop and I'm planning to wear them in my hair. I'm not going to have a veil so I thought they would give a nice 'bridal' feel to my costume. But since Miss Havisham has been wearing these flowers for decades, I aged them a bit with some watercolors.           

Fingerless gloves  
Fingerless gloves make me think of old-fashioned weddings. Also I own a pair. Sometimes it's tough to find a legitimate reason to wear them. Luckily, there's always Halloween.

Miss Havisham is a very wealthy woman, so it would make sense that she would wear her best jewels on her wedding day.

Cobwebs and a spider 
Miss Havisham has lived as a shut-in for many years and I imagine her sitting for hours without moving, staring off into space, wrapped up in misery and letting spiders weave webs around her.

This is the most simple cobweb you can get form any costume shop. It's usually used for decorating the house but I thought I could add it to my costume to give it an old, withered look.

A dress
Miss Havisham has not changed her clothes since she had been left at the altar. So, naturally, she should be wearing her wedding dress. My trip to several second hand shops yielded no results, so I decided to use my Mom's old wedding dress.

The image does not do it justice. It's a lovely off-white silk dress that acquired just a hint of yellow over the years. It has a diamond pleat around the wrists and on the shoulders. The neckline is very high and there is a frill around the throat. The neckline and the pleats make me think Victorian, even though it was made in the early 80s. Unlike many wedding dresses that are worn once and then never again, this one has served me faithfully over the years as a base for many Halloween costumes.

What I'm missing....
A shoe. Just one. Miss Havisham wears only one because she was in the process of putting her shoes on when she heard that her groom-to-be had run away. I pair of ballet flats would be perfect but I don't have any and I couldn't find a pair that wasn't black. I might just have to go shoe-less.  

See also, Miss Havisham Part I

Fancy Dress Fashion Plate, 1900s

Fancy dress, 1900, source missing

Cowboy, 15th-16th century lady (possibly Margaret from Faust), ballerina, Egyptian queen, Polish peasant girl(?), dragonfly  

Apparently, dressing little boys as cowboys and little girls as ballerinas has been around since early 1900s. Shouldn't it have gotten old by now?

Victorian Fancy Dress Fashion Plate

Source:  La Mode Illustree, France, 1889
Flower girl, flower and star  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Bad-Idea" Masquerade Costumes

Wastepaper Basket 
Source: Fancy Dress Described, 6th ed., 1896  
We all have one of those friends who takes a silly idea and runs with it. 

A Lady Gardener 
Source: Fancy Dress Described, 6th ed., 1896
Apart from being the most impractical and cumbersome dress for an actual gardener, even a lady one, one would think that the rake and the watering can would be very much in the way at a ball.

Source: Fancy Dresses Described, 5th ed., 1887
If your little girl wants to express her love for the British postal system this Halloween, help her wish come true with this not-at-all silly costume idea.  

A Gleaner 
Source: Fancy Dresses Described, 5th ed., 1887 
Yet another one in the line of terribly impractical 'work' costumes. Perfect for anyone who owns a sickle.  

Source: Masquerades, Tableaux and Drills, 1906
If you're suffering from a gambling problem and don't quite know how to let your friends and relatives know about it, why not opt for this charming costume? 

Source: Fancy Dresses Described, 5th ed., 1887
If the fanciful Bat Lady costumes from one of my earlier posts is not quite your cup of tea, you can always go for something a tad more traditional. With a different headdress this costume could also double as a "zebra". 

For more wonderfully silly Victorian costumes visit Historical Fancy Dress blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two Ladies and a Child in Fancy Dress

Source: Godey’s, 1866
This little girl is dressed as a Spanish Lady, next to her is a Lady Hussar and the young woman on the right decided to attend the party as a photo camera. She will certainly take home the prize for the most creative masquerade costume.

Isabel Parreno Arce, Marquesa de Llano,

Marquesa de Lliano shown here as a maja - a sort of Spanish gypsy. 

Isabel Parreno Arce, Marquesa de Llano by Anton Raphael Mengs, 1773

Portrait of a Lady in Turkish Fancy Dress

Portrait of a Lady in Turkish Fancy Dress by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, 1790 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Batgirl Halloween Costume Time Travel

'Sexy' Batgirl, 2011

Alicia Silverstone-inspired Batgirl, 1997

Retro Batgirl, 1960s

Vintage Batgirl, 1882

Victorian Batgirl, 1887

Nineteenth Century Medusa Gorgon

Horrible Idea. Punch Magazine (1869) lampooning ladies' twisted chignon hair style by suggesting they include a stuffed snake to their up-dos.   

It may be a bit impractical as an everyday style, but it would be a wonderful idea for Halloween. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

ROCOCO - an animated short by Marylène Pourcelot

Oh, what delight, what pleasure it is to stumble upon something so pretty and cute in the vast galaxy that is the Internet. 
But, be advised, do not watch if you are easily offended - SPOILER by nudity.

You can see more of Marylène Pourcelot's adorable artwork on her deviantART page.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dance Through Time

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth…a lot more. 

Though it is rather odd that no one but white people seem to have danced or wore clothes in the last 100 years. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Striped Loveliness of the Sleepy Hollow Polonaise

As Sleepy Hollow (1999) draws to a close, our pretty protagonist Katrina Van Tassel, played by Christina Ricci, dons a lovely striped a la Polonaise dress.

Katrina's black and white gown, bodice
Katrina's black and white gown, back
Katrina's gown reminds me very much of this robe retroussée dans les poches of striped white and red silk. The pattern and cut are very similar, though the color scheme is different.

Source: Kyoto Costume Institute  
When the English enlightened habit of walking in the countryside and enjoying exercise made its way into the fashionable circles of France, ladies adopted this robe retroussée dans les poches.The skirt was pulled through the slits in the dress and arranged at the back to mimic the style of working-class women, who needed  their clothes to be comfortable and practical. The white and red stripes heighten the effect of the folds.

Yet this afternoon dress from the House of Worth from 1890s is quite similar to Katrina's striped gown. The style is quite different, of course, but it would seem that this frock also belongs in a Tim Burton film.

House of Worth, dress, front 

House of Worth, dress, back
In fact, I'm beginning to suspect that Mr Burton spends much of his time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a notepad and a pencil.        

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Worthiness of The House of Worth

This beautiful dress from the House of Worth is truly worthy of the modern genius of Mr. Tim Burton.

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Evening dress, 1898-1900, French, Silk

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail of the bodice and the pattern on the cape. Looking at this lovely frock, I can't help but think that with it's swirling tendril motif  it looks very much like fanciful ironwork.

Source: Marina Solovyova, SPB-78
The black-and-white color scheme and the spiral pattern would make this dress an inspired choice for a Tim Burton film. In fact, I feel like I've already seen something very similar in one of his works. 

Miranda Richardson in Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Lady Van Tassel's web dress
Lady Van Tassel from Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow is a very fashionable dame. This "knotwork" dress must have been inspired by the House of Worth evening gown.

Van Tassel's yellow dress
Van Tassel's yellow dress back
Though this little yellow and black ensemble also has a very similar pattern to the worthy example of House of Worth couture. The bodice of the dress is quite different since the story takes place in the 1700s, but the back with the little train is remarkably similar.

Sleepy Hollow is the quintessential Halloween film; and if one had to choose a director who has given himself over to this autumnal holiday, it would have to be Mr. Burton. This puts me in mind to dedicated a few posts this October to this remarkable servant of all that is macabre and spooky.   

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Miss Havisham Halloween Costume: The Idea

October is one of the most important months in a year mainly because that is when we celebrate Halloween. I must say, I adore Halloween - it is one of the few days when you can dress up in the most ridiculous, over-the-top get-up and no one can judge you.

This year, after careful consideration, I've decided to go as Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. 

While I care very little for Great Expectations as a work of fiction or Dickens, for that matter, I find Miss Havisham to be a fascinating character.

With a zeal that becomes such an ardent lover of Halloween, I took to the Internet in search of inspiration.

Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (1946)
This is a very witch-like Miss Havisham. Her hair and face remind me very much of the evil stepmother from Disney's Cinderella. The little flowers in her hair are absolutely inspired. They make me think of Ophelia. In fact, I am convinced that had poor Ophelia lived to old age she would have turned into Miss Havisham.

Miss Havisham with adult Pip in Great Expectations (1946)
The veil that covers most of her body has a wonderful spiderweb-like quality to it and looks old and withered. I find the dress itself a bit puzzling. I can't tell what period it supposed to be. One would think that if Pip and Estella inhabit Victorian England, Miss Havisham's dress should be from the Regency Era. But the shape of the dress and the long puffy sleeves seem all wrong for that time period. Of course, they may have been inspired  by late 1800s, but the neckline is a bit odd and it still doesn't explain the fanciful sleeves. But in a way, it kind of works. This Miss Havisham is out of place and out of time with her strange attire, musty house and rich jewelry.  

Joan Hickson in Great Expectations (1981) 
Lovely dress, love the color. The bright jewels create a gorgeous contrast with the faded fabric. The curls are really nice too. You can almost see the young pretty girl who had her dreams dashed. But this Miss Havisham doesn't look bitter. Just melancholy.

Charlotte Rampling in Great Expectations (1999)
I love Rampling's handsome face, cold expression and exquisite Regency style dress. The sheer fabric over the dress and on the sleeves make for a great cobweb effect. But I feel like this Miss Havisham is too put together. And she doesn't really appear insane, only a bit miffed.  

More Miss Havishams

Miss Havisham by Harry Furniss
Miss Havisham by Charles Green
Jean Simmons in Great Expectations (1989)
Miss Havisham
Catrin Osborne as Miss Havisham on Stilts
Catrin Osborne makeup for Miss Havisham
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