Thursday, August 9, 2012

From Colonial Williamsburg: A Sack-Back Gown, c 1775

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Isabella/Susan reporting:

I have always shared a birthday (June 1) with Marilyn Monroe. Today, I'll have something else in common with Marilyn: I'm heading to the hospital for a cholycystectomy, and will soon part company with my gall bladder just as she did. (See here if you missed all my earlier drama.) I don't really have time for a real blog today, but I will leave you with one of my favorite photographs.

This is Sarah Woodyard, one of our friends (most recently here and here) from the Margaret Hunter Milliner's Shop, Colonial Williamsburg.  Sarah is not only an obliging model, but an apprentice mantua-maker (dressmaker) in CW's historic trades program, and in most cases she has made the replica 18th c clothes she is wearing. Everything is made as it would have been 250 years ago, entirely cut and stitched by hand.

Contemporary fashion plates can present a stylized, extreme version of clothing, while original garments must be treated as the fragile textile history they are. But replica clothing can show how people of the past actually dressed. Since my current series of books is set in Georgian England, I love seeing how these clothes move, and how they come to life as they define the body inside. They even make their own sound: a silk gown like this one makes a definitely crisp swish as the wearer walks.

The sack-back gown, hat, and cap that Sarah wears left are very similar to the attire sported by Daughter Anne. But while Anne's gown and hair were exaggerated as a caricature, Sarah's shows how elegant and graceful the style actually was. I especially like how the gathered and pleated dark pink silk catches and reflects the light. Imagine how it would look in a room lit by candles!

Photograph by Susan Holloway Scott.

8 comments:

Carol Dent said...

Susan - Bon courage and get well soon!

Ana said...

Be well!

ellaquinnauthor said...

Good luck with your operation. I love the gown. For some reason, I don't think of the older silks as being so shiny. It's beautiful.

Charles Bazalgette said...

Hope all goes well for you!

gio said...

Hope everything goes well and that you will get better soon!

And that's a beautiful gown.

Margaret Evans Porter said...

All best and know you'll soon be back to blogging and writing books. May your recovery be swift!

Donna Seger said...

Best wishes for a very speedy recovery!

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Many thanks for all the good wishes - they're much appreciated! :)

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