Friday, May 4, 2012

Dress and Dinner Commemorates 100th Anniversary of Titanic: Or How We Were Determined to Not Go Down With the Ship!

The Captain and I had the good fortune to attend a Marvelous dinner recreating the menu served to the First Class passengers on the last evening of the Titanic's Fateful maiden voyage. Determined to make a splash--in her Entrance, not in the North Atlantic, Yours Truly decided to whip up a divine confection of a gown that the famous Lady Duff Gordon AKA "Lucille" would have envied. Photographs, fabrics, and fantasies were perused and examined. And then, reality dawned. Just HOW was this extravagance going to be realized?

Fortunately, the talented Mrs. Chancey at "Sense and Sensibility" (a well-named enterprise, to be sure!) offered a solution in the guise of her 1910 Tea gown pattern. From this template Yours Truly would construct the gown of her dreams!

Although sewing machines were the predominate means of creating dresses in 1912, in 2012, Yours Truly opted to utilize the most basic of tools of her craft: the needle, thread, and her own dimpled, thimbled hand. Why? For the better to be able to sit on the couch and watch Costume Epics, my Friends! 
The result of two months of work was a dress Green Satin overlaid with Black Lace and embellished with Caviar Beads and Sequins.

Sartorial Splendor was completed with the Captain wearing his Hospitaller Order of Saint John and a beaver top hat that dates from the 1890s.

Photographs taken in daylight at The Plantation show details not visible at the Event itself.

We are particularly proud of the Hat trimmed back when We were a mere Schoolgirl. Ah, the chapeau hasn't aged a day, although We Cannot say the same for Ourselves!

As to the Evening Itself, we had a Splendid Time! The meal was a never-ending succession of courses--10 in all--with vintage wines and champagne as accompaniment.

Never was Yours Truly so thoroughly stuffed as, alas, we did not do a very good job of pacing ourselves through the meal. Furthermore, We simply HAD to taste EVERYTHING! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Little One is Getting Bigger!

We are discovering daily one of the Truths of Life: babies do not stay babies for very long. They quickly grow into Toddlers whose desire to Run and Explore far exceeds their ability to remain Still and Quiet. These factors must need be considered when planning to take said Toddler to a historical event, particularly when period dress is desired!

As was documented here in March 2010,
we had sewn an infant gown for the Little One in advance of her arrival. When she last wore said garment, she was still, indeed, an Infant. Now, no longer limited to sitting and cooing at events, her clothing had to adjust to her growing form. While her Mama is adept at sewing tucks and was thereby able to shorten the skirt and render said dress wearable to this small event, she did not think to Plan ahead and all this flurry of activity took place in the family vehicle only minutes prior to everyone’s arrival on the scene! All was successful in the end, but, alas, the infant gown, sized for true infants, will likely no longer fit in the bodice by the time of the next Occasion. Yours Truly must now contemplate the design and execution of a new outfit.

Ah, the timeless challenge of dressing a growing child!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jane Austen Society Conference comes to Texas!

Miss Elodie must confess that she does not much care for crowds. However, when large numbers of people, even Strangers, come together to celebrate anything of importance, she often will make an exception and attend.

This October the Jane Austin Society of North America will hold its annual meeting in Fort Worth, a lovely and quite cultured community not too many hours north of where Miss Elodie currently resides. Although she may not be a Stalwart Janeite, she is certainly an admirer of the Lady's Literary Works.

Miss Austen's novel "Sense and Sensibility" turns 200 years old this year and will be the theme of the conference. Yours Truly believes "Persuasion" to be her favorite, but will admit that "Sense and Sensibility" is a near runner up.

Perhaps we will see you in Fort Worth this Fall?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Little One in a State of Grace

Events seem to occur on or near holidays in our family. We discovered that we were to become a Mother on an aptly named "Good Friday," our Little One was born just before Thanksgiving, and this year, we finally brought her into God's good graces by baptizing her the day before All Hallows Eve. Such occurrences are not unusual. Yours Truly was herself Christened on Valentines Day. In this part of the world, however, the weather is usually more clement in late October than in mid-February and, true to form, the sun shown beautifully for the Great Event and the day resonated with joy.

It so happens that the maternal grandfather of the honoree is a minister and so he performed the Christening with water from the River Jordan. His contribution was but one in a day full of family significance. The baptism took place in the front hall of the Big House built by our daughter's great-great-great-grandfather in the very spot where, in 1901, her great-grandfather was himself baptized by the first bishop of the newly formed Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. This clergyman later became the Presiding Bishop of the whole national church. Although such a Future isn't expected of the maternal grandfather as he has retired from active ministry (he does, however, still serve at a church), he was pleased to perform the ritual on his first-born grandchild.

No period gowns for this event, though the garment the Little One wore was the same worn by Yours Truly on that Valentine's Day many years ago. It was made by my own Aunt and Godmother. This very same Aunt and Godmother was able to travel from Louisiana to witness another generation brought into the community of the faithful. We rejoiced that a Happy Occasion brought us together and we celebrated for two days.

A good and blessed time was had by all.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Which We Visited the Things of Our Ancestors' Kings

...Or, How We Spent Our Fourth of July

Our Nation's Birthday was taken up by a trip to the Meadows Museum on the Campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. There we saw the exhibit of embroideries, paintings, and furniture collected by King Carlos IV of Spain and his queen, Maria Luisa of Parma.

Miss Elodie must confess that most of her knowledge of the Royal Iconography came from the not-so-flattering paintings of the monarchs and their family by Goya.

There were, however, some lovely images of the couple created during their youth. One in particular of Maria Luisa features her in a pink gown covered with exquisite lace. The dentils are rendered most carefully and thereby even a close examination of the painting reveals an accurate replication of the needlework. Miss Elodie is a particular admirer of this type of lacework and has been known to Swoon over those specimens she has been privileged to view.

As the Captain likes to remind Miss Elodie, Carlos IV reigned during the years Louisiana was part of Spain thereby enabling me to claim a bit of Hispanic culture in my Gallic ancestry. Indeed had fate not intervened otherwise, one of the subjects of the Exhibit may well have had some direct and personal contact with my Forebearers.

Near Thibodeaux, just down Bayou Lafourche from my Ancestral Lands, stands Rienzi Plantation which, rumor has it, was to be the Palace-en-Exile for the very same Queen Maria Luisa. Bonaparte set his brother Joseph on the throne of Spain and found it inconvenient to have the Former Occupants nearby. Rather than flee to Louisiana, Queen Maria Luisa traveled to France then Rome. She may not have appreciated the heat of her former colony nor the fact that the town of Napoleonville was just up the road. Ah, C'est La Vie!

The Exhibit, titled "Royal Splendor in the Enlightenment: Charles IV of Spain, Patron and Collector" will continue only through Sunday July 18th and so a visit should be planned today!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yours Truly has had an interesting life for the past year. Not only may she now refer to herself as Madame Elodie, she also uses the apellant "Mere." Yes, Miss Elodie is a wife and mother. The new arrival, a sweet auburn-tressed girl, has already attended her first immersion event (historical, that is).
The Little One behaved marvelously and seemd to enjoy herself before falling asleep in her Mama's arms.

Planning a little girl's historic wardrobe is certainly fun; hopefully the she'll be similarly enthusiastic about wearing it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Setting the Scene

Like many other of her generation and older, Yours Truly grew up watching that particular phenomenon of Southern Identity, Gone with the Wind. Although the pivotal panoramic of the train depot with thousands of wounded soldiers always causes Miss Elodie to choke up, her Favorite scene takes place at the charity bazaar dance in which Miss Scarlett refutes Dr. Meade's assertion that as a widow, she won't dance. "Oh Yes I Will!" she cries as she heads out onto the dance floor to lead the Virginia Reel in her trailing ebony weeds.

Miss Elodie has had the great pleasure of opening the Virginia Reel on several occasions, sometimes even dressed in black. However, this past month she not only danced her favorite dance in this flattering shade, but she did so in a ballroom decorated not unlike the charity bazaar from the aforementioned Epic Motion Picture.

In Chapter 9 of her novel, Margaret Mitchell described the scene:

“...[E]verywhere amid the greenery, on flags and bunting, blazed the bright stars of the Confederacy on their background of red and blue...At the other end of the hall from the platform, the ladies had eclipsed themselves. On this wall hung large pictures of President Davis and Georgia’s own “Little Alec” Stephens, Vice–President of the Confederacy. Above them was an enormous flag...The two faces looked down on the scene, two faces as different as could be possible in two men at the helm of so momentous an undertaking: Davis with the flat cheeks and cold eyes of an ascetic, his thin proud lips set firmly; Stephens with dark burning eyes deep socketed in a face that had known nothing but sickness and pain and had triumphed over them with humor and with fire—two faces that were greatly loved."

While Miss Elodie does not have any great insight into the accuracy of Miss Mitchell's descriptions of the characters of the Confederate states executive officers, those folk who labored to decorate the ballroom at the Arlington Hotel did a bang-up job and portraits of these two famous men were given prominent display. Alas, her photographs do not really do justice to the setting as they were taken while the dance attendees were partaking of well-needed refreshments.

As for Your Truly, she was, indeed, attired in black, though not in widows weeds but in tribute to her Francophone ancestry. Miss Elodie dressed rather more in the style of Ingres' portrait of Mme. Moitessier than Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton therefore she was able to grace the dance floor and lead the Virginia Reel with far less scandal and perhaps even more delight than her more famous literary counterpart!