Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Love Letter

Miss Wendy again!
I have a few hunks of fabric that really want to be gowns, one a very pretty pinky peach love birds silk damask and the other a lavender silk taffeta. I’d planned the lavender to be a sacque, so I figured it was off limits to me for the Garden Party since we’re doing very serious, very specific research for this event (it’s not enough to say “well, it’s her mother’s old gown” in this case. We want to document everything...). I’ve been having trouble finding a damask I like to copy, though, original or portrait. Then I came across this:

This is a portrait by Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard, “The Love Letter.” I haven’t found out who the girl in the painting is, I’m not sure that anyone knows, actually. The portrait is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is dated circa 1770, which is perfect for me! The girl is pretty young and that silk is gorgeous and depending on what image of the painting I look at I think it’s light green, light blue, grey, or even lavender, so my silk will work wonderfully!

Before I can even think about making this gown, though, I’m going to need to decide what I need under it. The only shifts I have are pretty coarse, not to mention the longer seams are machine done. I also have to figure out if I need pocket hoops or hip rolls for this.

Then there’s that cap. I think I want to copy the portrait exactly (Maybe I’ll pose for a photo recreating it! I don’t think that dog is a shih tzu like my family’s dog, but I could still use our dog for it!), so I need to work out that cap and hair. I don’t know anything about doing hair other than a plain bun, so that’ll take a lot of practice (and/or help!).

The great thing about this gown is that other than that cuff, I can’t see any of the trim. That means I get to trim it however I want! I’ll have to look at other silk gowns and get ideas. Plus, until I started thinking about this specific painting, it had never occurred to me to notice how much trim is on the sleeves versus the front of the gown. Can I have more on the front than the sleeves? Or does knowing that the cuffs are pretty simple mean the front should be too? So I’ll keep looking through books and start paying attention to trim ratios.

Now that I have a look to copy, my next step is to come up with everything I’ll need to recreate it and figure out what I have to get my hands on!

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