Saturday, 28 March 2009

Pure Fantasy

Romantic-threads is an EBay seller with some absolutely gorgeous gowns... but don't for a moment think that they're historically accurate!

I covet, covet, covet this dress!  It would be perfect for playing my sidhe character from White Wolf's Changeling.  But the seller claims it "will suit a variety of styles including Renaissance, SCA, even medieval..." and the simple fact is, it won't.

The basic lines of the dress are clearly Tudor inspired, but every semblance of accuracy is destroyed by both the pattern and the fabric.  Let's start with the accessories.  The belt and bodice festoon look more Elizabethan than Tudor, and though I'd give them a pass, most bodice detailing examples I've seen have been actual necklaces, tacked to the dress front.  The necklace I'm not so sure about.  That sort of draping looks Victorian to me.

On to the bodice!  That little frilly ruffle around the neckline isn't Tudor either, and the top edge of the bodice should be straight instead of scooped.  What we have here is Victorian detailing, also evident in the seams that curve over the bust.  Tudor seams, for the 23532th time, were straight.  

Another work of fantasy: the sleeves.  Tudor sleeves were quite different and the 'bells' began much higher up the arm, with seams instead of gathering and ornate cuffs below them.  The idea of a gathered, flaring cuff is Rococo, and during that era it would have begun around the elbow and been much shorter.  Exaggerating the cuff and edging it with lace instead of adding layers of lace beneath it is a modern Gothic development.  The higher gathering around the shoulders and upper arms also owes more to Goth than to period costume.

The skirt looks gathered too (a big no for Tudor, and I believe the Elizabethans used pleating), and it comes with a hoop skirt.  Have a look at Catherine Parr.  Or is it Jane Grey?  There's some debate, but one thing's for certain.  This skirt doesn't curve like a hoop skirt.  It angles much more steeply toward the ground.  

Now for the fabric choices.  The trim and lace look very modern to me.  They aren't nearly stylized or angular enough for Tudor, though they'd probably work for Victorian.  And the dress is crushed velvet.  High end crushed velvet and not the cheap lycra stuff, but still, the Tudors would take one look at this thing and say it was lying smashed in a chest for too long.

Y'know, we really need some society that dresses up in tasteful, high quality fantasy gowns and plays at being fae nobility or something.  For that I would wear this dress in an instant.  But for Ren Faires, I would not subject the general public to my flights of gothdom... and it's too damn posh to wear in normal life.  For $1250, I'll have to give it a miss.



    For that, it had better come with diamond-edged undies. You can get a similar dress custom-made for much less than that... okay, a lot of money still, but less than that.

  2. It's not so bad. That's the buy-it-now price, and bidding starts at 950.

    But yeah, my mom could make it for maybe 250, if I could ever get her off her ass to actually *do* it.