Initially created for a Halloween ball held in NYC- this gown combines Venetian Opulence and Victorian sensibilities. I planned for this dress to be a hybrid of Rococo styling and the Victorians affinity for all things black, dark and gothic. I loved the opportunity to make this dress because it allowed me to experiment with elements of a period while remaining within the strict confines of a color. I always find that my creativity flourishes within boundaries.
Gown is construction of black silk taffeta in a rarely seen Robe Francaise and Robe Anglaise combination. ( I have only seen a few extent version in museum collections). The neckline is cut extra low and filled with antique Chantilly and Valenciennes lace dating to the late 19th century. The gown closes center front and is adorned with Victorian french jet buttons. French Jet shines incredibly beautifully in the candlelight. The back of the overdress falls in 'Watteau' style pleats from the neckline. For structure- underneath the gown I am wearing Panniers, a Quilted petticoat and full stays . The sleeves are finish in a winged cuff decorated with antique jet bead trim. Lace in cuffs (engageants) is a combination of antique Chantilly lace and antique tatting sewn to cotton mesh. I love how the ivory inner lace helps to highlight the airiness of the Chantilly. The skirt and bottom of the overdress are intentionally unadorned to create strong geometric lines.
Shoes are a modern adaptation of the 18th century chopine. To create the shoes- I took a modern shoes and stripped it of all of its parts, recut the parts and then rebuilt it. They are easier to walk in than they appear !
Outfit is adorned with an antique french Jet capelet and authentic Victorian onyx and gold mourning brooch and earrings. Black, mauve and deep purple feathers adorn my hair. Hairbows are made of vintage french ribbon. As this was for halloween- My painted nails and make up are inspired more by the 1920's vamp than the 18th century courtesan. In case you were wondering- despite being filled with sand- the dress did survive its dip in the ocean!
Photos by Aimee Dodds. 2015