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The Costume College Gala 2016

Oh my!  My first Costume College has come and gone, and with it, my first Costume College Gala.  Oh, the joy!  Oh, the frocks!  Everyone looked amazing.  The theme was ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

I have a couple hundred photos of the night, but, with much hand-wringing, I managed to narrow it down to a few favourites.

The Gala starts with a ‘Red Carpet’, and an announcer.

Waiting for the red carpet is quite fun too: it’s a more relaxed time to see everyone’s frock, and to make delicious discoveries, like finding out that your entire group, quite without any planning, has shown up in coordinating pastel frocks (aren’t they delicious!):

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

The red carpet is a chance to get photographed and complemented, and then you are shunted through to other end, where everyone else who has already walked is mingling and admiring and waiting for the Gala ballroom doors to open.

There are more delicious discoveries, like finding out that someone’s outfit is as amazing as your hair:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

(That’s Chris of The Laced Angel and her hair is a thing of beauty and a joy forever).

And that Kaylee came to the party!

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Most though, there are just fabulous frocks to photograph.  I loooooove this blue 1870s!:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Including Cynthia of RedThreaded’s already-justly-famous Worth recreation:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

And The Lady Detalle‘s bee-covered Napoleonic court gown, and Gloria of In the Long Run in her 1800s court gown:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

And Before the Automobile’s Edwardian evening gown.

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com13

Once everyone had made it through the red carpet, we sat down to dinner.  There were meat (the Athenians), vegetarian (the Fairies), and low allergy (The Craftsmen) options.

I’m a really slow eater (well, ok.  I just talk too much instead of eating…), and when I was finally done with my salad and ready for the vegetarian main the hotel realised they had mis-calculated and run out of the vegetarian main.  I said I was fine just having the meat main without meat, but instead they brought me out an awesome vegetarian pasta.  I’m pretty sure it was the Donkey option, and it was a leetle bit scary to eat in my dress, but it was delicious.

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

It wasn’t quite as exciting at the standard Vegetarian option, which, much to everyones amusement, was a pie approximately the size of your head:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

After dinner there was dancing, which I would usually be super excited about, except that I can actually dance elsewhere, and I can’t seriously historical costume geek with that often, so I pretty much just admired and talked all evening!

Favourite post-dinner moments include Wearing History’s gorgeous red-silk 1790s dress:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

And standing behind the photoshoot area, getting very anachronistic but fun photos of ladies in amazing frocks capturing other ladies in equally amazing frocks.  This is Ginger of Scene in the Past, photographing Taylor of Dames a la Mode and Jenny Rose.

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Ginger’s dress was one of my absolute favourites:

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

As was Jen of Festive Attyre’s 1790s gown with triangle trim (there is a proper name for it but it’s late and I can’t remember…), in part because it was gorgeous, and in part because every time I saw it I couldn’t help making monster jaw arms!

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Aubry of A Fractured Fairytale’s evening robe is giving me serious costume envy, because it’s gorgeous, petrol blue, and the fabric (which I’m pretty sure is a discontinued silk from Burnley & Trowbridge) is so close to this dress at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Both Aubry & Jen are wearing Dames a La Mode jewellery.

And, to finish off, a favourite photo, and a favourite dress.  Natalie of Frolicking Frock’s recreation of the 1890s dress from Janet Arnold is so perfect, as are all the fabulous things going on in the background of this photo.

Costume College Gala Night 2016 thedreamstress.com

Laughter, admiration, happy conversations everywhere!  It was the perfect night.

A favourite Costume College moment (and a preview of my gala dress!)

There were SO MANY wonderful moments at Costume College this year, and I’ll be blogging lots of them, but for now I just want to share a little one that really shows how fun and fabulous the event is.

There is a tradition among many costumers of taking ‘shoe shots’: images of everyone standing in a circle, pointing their toes inwards and showing off their shoes.  I meant to take some, but forgot all weekend!  (I’ve definitely seen ones from other costumers from CoCo).

Very late at night on Saturday, at the absolute end of the Gala, I ended up talking to Molly of Avant Garb (who started the night in a near-perfect* Kaylee dress recreation!) and Meg of Nutmeg Sews** about how amazing everyone’s outfit was and which 1,000 dresses were our favourites, etc etc.  It was late, and we’d danced and posed and generally looked gorgeous all night, so, without really thinking about it, we all ended up taking off our shoes and standing there in our fancy gowns and historical stockings.

The lovely Maria, who is in the Historical Sew Fortnightly, noticed our dreadful indiscretion, and  came up to tell us we needed a photo of the discarded shoes, as an actual accurate representation of what really happens at CoCo.

So the only shoe photo I got of the night is an un-shoe-ed photo!

Gala night at Costume College, thedreamstress.com

Maria even got a photo of my getting the photo!

Gala night at Costume College, thedreamstress.com

Meg’s shoes are by American Duchess, mine are my Nana heels, altered by me, and Molly’s, I think, are commercial.

And that’s CoCo!  Four women who had never met before that weekend laughing their heads off over discarded shoes at midnight, and being super excited and inspired by each other and the whole event.  Fantastic!

* And by ‘near-perfect’, I mean an almost exact replica, not imperfect!  It WAS perfect!

** Keep a watch out of her blog in the next few weeks for an update on her francaise dress.  She had a full SHIP in her hair!

Rate the Dress: Elisabeth Amalie in black and blue, ca. 1655

Sorry!  I’ve rather dropped the ball on Rate the Dress this weeks.  Between travelling, switching time zones, and Costume College, I’ve just completely lost track of days, and my brain is too tired to remember which day of the week I ought to do it in the US, rather than NZ.

Last weeks Rate the Dress, which I posted from NZ, was a tea gown made from a paisley shawl.  It copped a bit of criticism for the use of the lavender fabric as a match to the shawl, though some of you noticed that there were definitely lavender elements in the shawl, or simply liked the unexpected contrast.  Whether or not the lavender worked was definitely the biggest consideration for rating the dress, and it balanced out at a perfectly round, if not perfectly awesome 7 out of 10.

For this weeks Rate the Dress, I have a little request:

Please don’t look at the baby.

Or, at least, please don’t include the baby in your consideration of the dress Rating.  I can’t imagine that will go well.  Spilberg was a fantastic artist in many ways, but babies were clearly not his strength.

Johannes Spilberg (1619-1690), Portrait of Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt probably with her daughter Eleonor Magdalene of the Palatinate-Neuburg (1655-1720)), 1654-55, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf, via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Spilberg (1619-1690), Portrait of Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt probably with her daughter Eleonor Magdalene of the Palatinate-Neuburg (1655-1720)), 1654-55, Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf, via Wikimedia Commons

Other than the unfortunate facial expression bestowed upon Eleonor (unless that was actually what she looked like…), Spilberg had provided a fantastic look at mid-17thc. fashions in the Holy Roman Empire, as worn by her mother, Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt.  Elisabeth Amalie, famously pious and famously blonde, is about 20 years old in this portrait.  She wears a typical 1650s ensemble, with fitted, heavily boned bodice with wide sleeves and low neckline, of black velvet trimmed in silver, with matching overskirt and petticoat-skirt in turquoise blue, with the same trim.

Though black was becoming less common and fashionable as a colour in the 1650s, it was still an expensive shade to achieve, and helps to set of her unusual (and coveted) extremely fair colouring, and her blue under-skirt probably matched her eyes.  The flower she holds is probably a rose, as camellias weren’t grown in Europe until the 18th century.

What do you think?  Is Elisabeth the ideal picture of a Countess Palatinate in her ensemble?  Regal, wealthy, demure, pious, beautiful, and, most importantly, as shown by her daughter, fertile.  Beyond that, is it an attractive example of mid-17th century fashions?

Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10