We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the inspiration behind the Angelica Gown.
Every Scroop + Virgil’s historical pattern starts with research. We look at extant garments in private collections and museums. We assemble huge inspiration boards of items from online databases, noting details and similar design and construction elements.
Then we start parsing and sorting.
What elements are commonly seen together? What aesthetic features do we really want to include? What construction features do we really want to include? Is there a particular garment that is the starting point for the whole design, or are we mixing common elements?
Here’s what we ended up with for the Angelica Gown!
View A Front:
This was an easy pick! I absolutely love the neckline of this gown, and the waist edge, with its sharp curve and truncated point. This shape shows up on other extant garments, and in fashion plates, so it was a great starting point.*
I’m fascinated by the tabs on one side of the bodice. What’s the story there? Why only one side? I rather hope someone makes an Angelica with those silly tabs!
View A Back
The closest inspiration for the View B back is an Italian Gown that Amber was able to study and photograph in person. Unfortunately we aren’t able to share those photos with you. But it wasn’t the only dress we used as a basis:
We really liked the high back neckline of this Italian gown from the met, and the way the side-back panels match the straps – such an elegant design feature!
However, the very narrow back point panels of this dress are rather tricky to sew, and didn’t work well when graded out to a range of sizes. So we looked at other gowns, with side-back seams with more exaggerated curves, set further towards the sides:
This Italian Gown is right here in Wellington, and it’s one I’ve been able to study in person.
View B Front:
Many of you will have recognised the inspiration behind the View B front:
Those spikey tabs!
This gown also helped inform the front-laced closure.
The long pointed front, sans points, shows up on some of the other inspiration gowns, including the silk brocade gown from Te Papa, and the chintz gown from the Met:
View B Back:
As beautiful as a four-panel back is, there are times when a simpler two panel back is just a better design choice: less seams to interfere with stripes or a print, and less work.
Look at that fabric above! Obviously you wouldn’t want to interrupt it with another seam!
In addition to having a two-panel back, 1991.204a,b also influenced the overall design of the back. We really wanted our Italian Gown pattern to have a very exaggerated, deep back point, just like this gown.
While pinning was still the most common closure method in the last quarter of the 18th century, the number of extant garments that have a hidden front lacing closure suggest that it was reasonably common. We thought that would be a really fun element to include!
(yes, the dress above is laced wrong)
We also thought it would be nice to have a one-piece sleeve, since the Amalia Jacket has a two-piece sleeve.
One thing we did keep from the Amalia pattern is the side seam. It makes fitting and construction so much easier than a front panel that wraps all the way around to the back to without a seam, and it appears on quite a few of our inspiration gowns:
Being pale coloured was not a requirement for our inspiration gowns – that’s just a weird coincidence! (the primary inspiration that Amber studied is actually a glorious red!)