Friday, August 31, 2012

Dress of the Week: A Midsummer Night's Dream Costume

Do you like theater? I adore it! And after my theater group had successfully performed a production of Shakespeare in the Park, my head has been full of theatrical costumes. So, this week we shall look at this lovely frock worn by Helena of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1914.

Theater Costume, 1914, British. Source: Victoria & Albert Museum 
Theater Costume, back, 1914, British. Source: Victoria & Albert Museum 
Date: 1914
Artist: Norman Wilkinson
Materials: Crêpe-de-chine, fringe and beads
Techniques: Sewing; Macrame
The dress was made by Norman Wilkinson for director Harley Granville Barker who earned himself a place in theater history books for his creative approach to stage and costume design. Unlike his contemporaries who tried to recreate historical costumes and 'realistic' sets, Barker went for highly stylized scenery and costumes that suggested period dress but were influenced by the fashion trends of the time.

Barker lucked out with his production of A Midsummer Night's Dream since the 1910s were a time of Empire Revivalism with its linear silhouette and interest in ancient Greek and Roman styles. This was perfect for a play set in the woods near Athens.

The dress above was made for Lillah McCarthy who played Helena and was worn by her for the final scene of the play. It is white crêpe-de-chine with pink stenciled flowers that give it a more folksy feel. The outfit was was worn with mauve shoes and red beads and a wreath of flowers decorating Helena's hair. I love how this dress imitates Grecian style yet still remain very 1910. The stenciled flowers add a bit more color and make it very fun.  

Source: Victoria & Albert Museum 

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