Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Chainmail jewellery

Y'know those funky, sparkly chainmail headdresses you see at Ren Faires and maybe the occasional SCA event?

I sorta like them.

But they're not period.

At all.

I'm not exactly sure when people first got the idea to make chainmail jewellery, but I think the 1980s had something to do with it.  Certainly no one in the Middle Ages or Renaissance tried it... or if they did, they somehow failed to allude to it in any text or artwork anywhere, ever.  

Middle-Eastern chainmail jewellery didn't exist either.

Wear it to the goth club.  Wear it to Fairycon.  Wear it to the Conan the Barbarian Appreciation Society.  But please, really, don't wear it when you're reenacting.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Help for Eastern Costuming

This is the best site I've found so far explaining the myths and giving advice for the Near East/Middle East region:

Middle Eastern Garb Do's and Don'ts

There's also:

SCA Near Eastern Garment Myths

There is very little period documentation online. The first site does link to a bibliography of print sources, especially for Persia.

If you know of any other useful links or any online documentation, please add it in the comments!

Fuggic Knotwork

Wow.  The shit that passes for 'Celtic' these days never ceases to amaze me.

Now, I have no problem with people taking inspiration from Irish/Pictish/Anglo-Saxon/Gallic/Viking/Whatever-else-have-you knotwork and making some sort of fantastical pastiche.  We've been doing it since the 19th century, and without it neither Art Nouveau nor LotR Elven architecture would have been the same.  But I do have a problem with how it's advertised.  

First off, must people keep calling it 'Celtic?'  The term is very general and not associated with any single culture or ethnicity; it is used by linguists to describe a particular language group, and all other definitions are hotly contested.  In addition, people have a tendency to apply it to all knotwork of northern Europe, forgetting that the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, whose languages were Germanic, not Celtic, have inspired more modern knotwork designs than the Irish!  

Secondly, is it too much to expect that reenactment sites, which claim to be historical, would try to provide believable examples instead of total fantasy?

Apparently it is.  If archeological digs have turned up any tiaras, they were planted there by time travelers.

Um, what's the point of a penannular brooch with a pin that doesn't function?  And given that this thing's sporting a foliate pattern that looks more Byzantine than northern, I'd like to know why it's called 'Celtic' at all.

This was in the Celtic section.  Yes, the Celtic section.  Because mixing modern fantasy dragons with Anglo-Saxon knotwork is so very Celtic!

These little gems come from Chivalry Sports, which makes a lot of noise about being your One Stop Shop for all things Ren/Medieval.  But all too often, its products are absolute crap.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Fuggelalter Kostueme

I had high hopes for Mittelalter Kostueme.  After all, they pictured real Medieval illuminations on the splash page.  But one glance at their offerings makes it clear that they spent no time looking at said illuminations.  Tips for twits: it's a really bad idea to post period images when your own sewing doesn't measure up; it'll show us exactly how many mistakes you're making!

Now, I have seen mens' tunics slit in the front and back and I've seen them slit on the sides.  But slit in four places?  I don't think so!  I guess this is just what happens when reenactors use so little yardage that doing things the right way would look even more bizarre.

I think we've got four way slits again.  And what is the deal with the shoulders?  If this were a good tabard, there's no way the fabric at the shoulders would stick out that far.  If it were a good tunic, there'd be attached sleeves.  Either way, this looks idiotic.

Oh, brilliant.  Let's throw a gown with minimal fabric over a much fuller underdress.  Are they going for the fishtail effect?

Not limiting themselves to skirts that are too narrow, they've also got skirts that are way too short!

They call this a houpelande. I thought these were houpelandes, but perhaps I was mistaken.

Contrasting top, contrasting hanging sleeves, split overskirt... how exactly is this historical?

Oh, joy.  Ugly, unperiod brocade and some of the most bugfuck seam placements I have ever seen!

In short, the garb here is frequently silly, and about as period as Holy Hand Grenades.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Dubious Deutsch

I'm starting to really dislike it when seamstresses don't give their sources.  It means that when I see something weird, I need to trawl the net looking for precedents.

Like this thing.  The Italianate bodice made me suspicious at once.  I combed through all the German Renaissance portraits I could find, and saw no evidence that women ever combined scooped necklines with landsknecht sleeves.

Now, there may be some obscure source that I've missed.  But if it's so hard to find, it really would be nice to document it.

Update: a helpful commenter has found it! More information in the comments.

Holy fuggin' shit!

Someone on Ebay is calling this a Viking costume.

Words fail me.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Fugly Gowns

Welcome to an irksome little website...

The creator of 'glory gowns' thoughtfully fails to provide examples of her own work for anything but her Renaissance section.  So, what are we left with?  Fantasy clothes based on the LotR film's Arwen.  Okay, fair enough, though I'd like to see some of her own much-touted velvet dresses instead of what looks like a CD cover for the movie soundtrack.  But then, oh dear, we've got Medieval clothing based on Eowyn.  So, let me get this straight.  She's taking designs for two different genres from the same source, which is unabashedly a fantasy film.  If she thinks Eowyn's dresses are any more Medieval than Arwen's, she is very much mistaken.

Oh, and her Renaissance gowns are truly a marvel of shimmery chemises, strapless overdresses, and lace-up arm treatments.  She has, in addition, offered them in faux-suede and corduroy versions.  I'm left wondering why she doesn't just admit that these are Renaissance-inspired fantasy whatsits, in a sort of upscale take on the wenchwear tradition.

Or is it possible that she thinks these things are accurate?  If she does, I'd really love to see her sources.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Faux Pas!

Found on Ebay...

Contrasting front panel with lacing.  Princess seams.  Gathers at neckline.  Modern prints.  Crushed velvet.

Gothic, maybe.  Renaissance / Medieval / SCA?  Hell, no.

Best of Ebay, vol 5

I found the Scapa whiskey, I found the Scapa! One lasht posht of the ebay results for the search 'medieval'.

Yes, that is a t-shirt. No, I didn't upload the wrong image by mistake. Yes, it was labelled medieval. No, I don't know why.


Best of Ebay, vol 4

At least these are dresses and not lingerie, right? That's good, right?

Maybe not as good as it could have been. This is the fug that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends...

Best of Ebay, vol 3

I have to admit, I did not expect this to take a turn for the raunchy.

I need a drink to forget. Why isn't there anything to drink around here?

Best of Ebay, vol 2

Oh, Ebay. You so crazy. Found by boldly searching 'medieval':

It's not that I don't have better things to do with my time, because I certainly do...

Best of Ebay, vol 1

Oh yes. I did it. I typed 'medieval' into ebay and looked at the results with my bare eyes.

Meet the 'best' results!

To be continued if I don't develop a drinking problem first.

Word Soup

I would just like to offer my thanks and gratitude to online costume suppliers for their clear and helpful labelling. It makes the job of finding nonsense and separating it from (reasonably) accurate medieval costuming much, much easier.

Anything labelled with three or more terms such as 'SCA-LARP-Renaissance-Faire-Fantasy' (actual example) will be junk.

There are some very impressive and unlikely label combinations out there, too; I think the 'MEDIEVAL RENAISSANCE VIKING SAXON DARK AGE' shoes I saw on ebay is the funniest one I've found so far. Comment with the best combinations you've seen!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Museum Fuglicas

I've never been impressed by the garb offerings at Museum Replicas, but lately they've really taken a plunge into the crapper.  

"The splendor and beauty of ancient Greece has never been more apparent than in this stunning dress." Clearly they've never seen Nike of Samothrace... much less looked at the details of her clothing.

This is their take on Anne Boleyn.  A cursory study of portraits would tell them that the Tudors did NOT wear sleeves like this, the waistline of the bodice is Baroque, not Renaissance, and the split in the overskirt is way too wide.  Since I've ranted about smaller details of Tudor tailoring so many times before, I won't do it again.  I'll just say that the embroidery is not historical AT ALL and looks like what you see on modern dresses from India.

They call this period.  I have no idea what period, and I don't think they do either.

Oh god.  Princess seams.  Modern lace.  Silver wrist ruffles.  Oh, and sleeve 'slashes' made of flimsy ribbon trim. 

Behold the Cantebury Gown.  I have no clue where Cantebury is, but judging by those sleeves, it must be somewhere in Italy.

No surprise, as they confuse real, historical Italian gowns with the English as well.  They say their Lady Jane dress "could easily be seen traversing the royal court of King Henry VIII." But in reality, it's a replica of the burial gown of a duchess of Florence (albeit a bad one; Sofi's Stitches did a better job).

I guess I shouldn't boggle.  Museum Replicas used to sell functional, tempered steel weapons and garb that was, at worst, too simple in design and stingy with yardage.  But then they decided to do things on the cheap and sell crappy swords.  Not long after, their clothes slumped from acceptable field garb to barely being larpworthy.  I'm surprised they're still in business at all, now that their weapon selection is so scanty.

It's ranty time!

Maybe the spelling of 'Ren Faire' has got some people confused.  It is, in fact, not the same thing as FaerieCon.  Sure, it's meant to be fun and not totally obsessed with accuracy, but it's generally agreed that you should give a nod to historical ambiance.  Wings aren't really in theme and should at least be worn with semi-period costume.

But some people didn't get the memo...

Save it for the Goth club.

I hope you've waxed.

This costume has no practical application in combat!

Another rare species: the little-known Period Punk Faerie.

Aww, didoo think this was a D&D convention?


Monday, 4 May 2009

Faire or Foul?

Winner of 'best artist costume' at a Renaissance Faire:

That she showed up to a Ren Faire in this costume shows me immediately that she has no idea whatsoever what medieval or Renaissance clothing looked like, and has no interest in finding out. That she won a prize for it tells me that the Faire organizers also have no idea and no interest. I am left with only one question: why did they use the word 'Renaissance' when naming their event?