Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Victorian, Edwardian, and Modern Costumes from CUT!

Yesterday I showed you some of the earlier era gowns from the Bowers Museum's CUT! Costumes and the Cinema exhibit. Here are the post-Romantic era costumes:

Once again, underpinnings are important. Have a cage crinoline. 
And a lobster tail bustle. 
I love it when they put in details nobody's likely to see, like the lace and tiny tucks on these drawers. 
Structure underneath the gown is required to get the amount of poof in Carlotta's dress from Phantom of the Opera.
Although this seems to need another petticoat, judging from the line going across the skirt.

The back of Carlotta's dress.
I'd never heard of The Land of the Blind, but this is a Red Dress, capital letters deserved. Ridiculously difficult to photograph, though. 
A bit less voluminous: classic bustle gown from Portrait of a Lady

The frilly back.  
More smocking goodness, from Miss Potter
Scarlett's Johansson's dress from The Prestige.
If ever a dress looked like a wedding cake, this would be it. 
Moving onto the Edwardian era: Uma Thurman's military-inspired outfit from The Golden Bowl
I believe this was an original Edwardian piece layered over a new underdress. Oh, that pouter pigeon front! 
Kate Winslet's dressing gown from Finding Neverland
First thought: absolutely breathtaking. Second thought: good golly, that must be a beast to move around in. 
Seriously. That. Detailing. 
Maggie Smith's dress from Gosford Park and a beaded gorgeousness from Mrs. Dalloway

Teens era. This coral dress could be from Downton Abbey, except that it's actually from In Love and War.
The most modern thing I took a picture of: a gorgeous teal-gray bias cut gown, but I don't remember what movie it's from! I want to (and Mr. Cation wants me to) make a gown like this so badly. 

For an aspiring costumer like myself, it was like two hours of heaven. I took so many pictures, hoping to capture all the exquisite details, but unfortunately the dim lighting made some of them quite fuzzy. Next time, I'm bringing a sketchbook! It's funny, since I've become interested in costumes and historical fashion, I've gone to so many more museums (and been more interested once I'm there!). From the De Young's Gaultier and Nureyev costume exhibits, to the Legion of Honor's Cult of Beauty exhibit, to the incomparable V&A, and of course the FIDM museum's yearly award-winning-costume exhibits, an interest in clothing has given a focus to my museum attendance.

Even a scrimshaw exhibit has fashion bits in it! Look at that classic Romantic era gown. Apparently, whalers used to use Godey's Lady's Book as source material for their carvings. Who would have thought?!

See, I've always believed strongly in the importance of museums; my dad started us young on going to look at art and science museums, but there was never really anything I particularly wanted to see of my own accord. Now, instead of cursorily checking out museums because I should, I actually enjoy going (what a revolutionary thought!). Costume exhibits are especially fun, but even having a rudimentary grasp of historical fashion has given me a framework to hang actual history on, if you know what I mean. I'm learning so much more about world history now that I need to research things like the textile industry, peasant life, and political statements through clothing color. If only I had discovered this earlier, who knows, I might be a history teacher instead of a science teacher! This just gives me more reason to keep incorporating things beyond the curriculum/textbook, because one never knows what might catch a student's eye and inspire more learning. Here's to not being a lazy teacher! 


  1. SO NEAT!! Thanks for bringing a taste to those of us who don't have things like this to go to. Love all the details that you were able to capture.
    I totally agree that fashion sewing lends a whole new and interesting light to history.

  2. Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing. I wish I could make it to this exhibit!

  3. These are beautiful- I'm envious that you got to go! I totally get what you mean about fashion and history. I'm an architecture student and the program I'm in has an "Iconography" course which is a big mash of history, philosophy, cultural studies, and art history so I can tell you it works the same way with architectural style and the political/social happenings. It seems like the more layers you have to hang things on the more "real" it all seems.

  4. Awesome!! As a museum professional it makes me so happy to hear that you have found a reason to enjoy and seek out museums!

  5. It's official, I need to start wearing a corset. Look at all those teeny little waists! I'll skip the cage thing though--that thing's kind of creepy.

  6. More wonderful photos! Thanks again for sharing the exhibit with us! So many wonderful dresses, I don't know which one I like best!

    If you ever want a list of good costume history/research books, let me know. I've got a library of great ones. =)

    ~ Brooke

  7. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the pics!

    The detailing on that bias-cut gown reminds me very much of a article I read recently in Threads, telling how to do a crossed-looking detail in a silky bias-cut gown.

  8. And more loveliness. Can't wait to see you in your remake of the grey dress :)

  9. Amaaaaazing! Need all of those! Especially the one from The Prestige! Love that movie!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing these (and yesterday's) - they're just breath-taking!

  11. Oh my! What lovely dresses for my morning reading.

  12. I just found your blog through the sew weekly challenge (which i also just found) and it's wonderful. I've been tooling around on it for an hour - should be working, but I still have to read "things I wish I knew" - love the stuff you make, love that cat, so glad you live in TCOCC, funny, very funny

  13. These are great, thank you so much for sharing! I always love looking at historic pieces and costume!

  14. Every time I look at the cage crinoline I see a Dalek. ;)

  15. Wow! You must have had a great time! These are all amazing dresses, though I have a distinct preference for the grey bias cut gown: the lines are amazingly simple and purely beautiful. Thank for sharing these photos!

  16. To avoid writing a report on Shakespeare in H.S. I was given the go-ahead to do an Illustrated clothing rundown of the period. Darn if I didn't learned so much and remember it all. To this day, I don't want to know the dates things happen, but what where people wearing at the time. The morphing of fashion makes a better historical mental frame than an old dry political date. I know you agree, 'cause you are hooked!


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