There are dozens of gorgeous historical items to be inspired by for the HSF ‘Eastern Influence’ challenge, it’s cold, and I’m feeling slow,and the only things that are inspiring me are warm and wooly.
How about an early 20th century wool suit/frock with chinoiserie influences?
I’ve got this gorgeous delft blue wool – beautifully warm, gorgeous drape, and combined with black and white it would look very striking:
Problem: there is only 2.5 metres. Not a lot for an early 20th century ensemble. Hmmmm….what if I picked a design that incorporated lots of appliqué and open space, and used that to stretch my wool?
I went looking for inspiration:
I like the shape of this, and the teeny-bolero would be helpful, but the colour is insipid, and the fabric too light:
Oooh…closer! Still a bit too spring-y though, for all that it is wool. Also, do I have 5 years to do that open cutwork? Sadly, no:
And this is too heavy, and suit-y, and winter-y, and would take too much fabric:
Ditto this, though the skirt decoration is fetching:
I love the chinoiserie of this Jeanne Halleé frock, and the colour combination is getting me thinking though the silhouette is a slightly later date than what I’m going for,:
Wait, wait, wait….ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner:
Turn of the century silhouette, wool, a teeny bit of a train (that wool just needs a train, 2.5 metres or not!), and an intriguing use of positive and negative fabrics in the bodice.
I like it! (also, how much do I love the LACMA for telling us not just what garments are made of, but what parts of garments are made of what, and what weaves the fabrics are. So much!)
And the Eastern Influence? Where is that coming from?
Things like this:
I’ve been intrigued by the appliqued borders on Chinese robes and jackets for decades. When I was just 14 I bought this mid-20th century Chinese (Hong-Kong) jacket, and carefully inspected the borders where one was coming un-stitched to see how it was constructed:
In university I filled sketchpads with designs for garments that incorporated the distinctive twisting borders, and pored over the Chinese textiles at my university’s museum. Imagine my delight when I found an (extremely damaged) late 19th century Chinese ‘cloud collar’ in the East Bay Centre for Creative Re-Use’s rag bin:
These cloud collars were worn for special occasions, particularly weddings. I’m going to use the basic ‘cloud’ shape as a repetitive motif in my garment, to create a distinctly Chinese aesthetic to a classically Western dress. It won’t be based off of an actual historical example, but based on the Halleé frock, and the popularity of Chinese textiles in early 20th century America and Europe, it’s certainly plausible.
Still, that’s only going to be rough inspiration. I need some more specifics. How about a sketch:
(I know! How long has it been since I’ve taken the time to do a proper costume sketch?). I still need to colourise it, but basically the skirt will be blue wool excepting the appliquéd border, the upper sleeves will be blue wool, with borders of black satin and lower portions of black silk or black wool gauze (or a white or cream fabric?), the ‘cloud collar’ will be black satin, and the strips coming down on the bodice will be blue wool, framing areas of black silk or wool gauze, with a black satin belt. Probably. We’ll see what happens when I cut and drape!
So, big plans – I just hope I can get them done!
First up: a skirt, and a trip to the Asia Gallery, in hopes that they have another black silk obi, because I used the last one on my Midnight Garden corset.