Titanic Gown Planning
I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it here, but I will be attending The Last Dinner on the Titanic event in April. I haven’t started my dress yet, which is sort of scary since it’s only about a month away. I do know that I want beading to be a big element of the dress and have even done some minor tests on tulle:
Sunday, at the Alameda Point Antique show, I stumbled upon this dress. It was literally the last thing I saw as I was walking out (the vendor is right next to fence and sells clothing that she has refashioned from older garments. She told me that she had just bought it and she was probably going to cut it to make a skirt and top.
Let me tell you something about this dress: It’s almost in perfect condition. There are no rips, discolorations, spots and holes. Nothing. The only defect is that the waistband underneath is brittled and some parts are coming apart. This can be easily fixed by reinforcing it on the other side of the band.
There were two reasons I had to buy this: One, I couldn’t let it be made into something new. This dress needs to be preserved. And two, it fits me — even without a corset. The waist is tight, but with a corset, it should be fine. It wasn’t cheap. I paid $150 for it. That’s sooo much more than I ever pay for something at Alameda (other than furniture), but considering its condition and history, I couldn’t resist. How often can you find a hundred year-old dress like this in almost perfect condition?!
And now, here’s my dilemma. Actually, not a dilemma — simply a project that needs a creative solution. This dress, though beautiful, is not suitable as an evening gown. It’s far too casual and works as a day dress. For my Titanic gown, I want to incorporate this into my finished garment, but I also don’t want to touch the thing at all. I basically want an over/undress that will work with the existing piece.
First, here are some photos of the dress:
As far as ideas go, I have seen two dresses online that seem like a good direction.
The first inspiration is this Lanvin green dress that’s part of the collection at The Kyoto Costume Institute:
I love how vivid the colors are! By making a very bright underdres/slip to wear under my Alameda dress, I could pop up the color. And my sash could be beaded as the highlight of the dress. This still leaves me wondering what I could do to fancify the neckline.
The second inspiration also comes from the Kyoto Costume Institute:
Oh my goodness, this is a gorgeous gown. And, though time-intensive, probably an even better solution. If I was to make a top jacket and belt, I could keep the dress as is (but I do need to wear a slip underneath.
I think my solution will lie somewhere in between: bright color underslip and beaded jacket/overdress.
Anyone have other suggestions?
Update: Here’s a rough mock-up of what I’m thinking. I’m just using some random fabric in my stash, so ignore the color and type (although, I actually do like this fuchsia, I’m thinking more of a turquoise or orange). Imagine that the sleeve caps (thanks, Colleen for the suggestion!), belt and bodice collar are all beaded and the rosette/rosettes are a little more put together than that pinned mess. There would be a train. The only question I have now is whether the sash should have a back train of some sort.