Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Majestic Mantua

I'm about to start doing regular posts on the Maid Marian costume, which I made for the 2012 Costume College Gala. However, I've gotten a head start on next year's Gala costume! This will not be a secret project. It's hard to keep records of secret projects. And I love sharing progress and getting feedback along the way.

 Onto the Majestic Mantua!

It started early last week. I was clicking through the entries on my Google Reader, being rather behind. Reading this post on the National Trust Treasure Hunt blog, my eye was caught!

I'm not sure why this caught my eye. It is a striking portrait, and I suppose it appeals to my love of bright but rich color, mix of textures, and overall impact.  The biggest reason is the nearly 6 yards of taffeta I got in the garment district this year, with no project in mind.

It's absolutely perfect. Bright tomato/cherry red shot with white, and a bit of gold or tan.

Before the Automobile said this would be "majestic," so I promptly christened this project "The Majestic Mantua."  Although it's not actually a mantua at all... more on that later! Research on this project has been absolutely fascinating. 

But what makes this a Gala gown?

The Maid Marian this year was such a hit, for me and for others.  It was Golden Age Hollywood, it was from an iconic film with gorgeous costumes, it was really really close to the inspiration (I can admit it now!), and it made an impact.  I'm an introvert, but honestly, I really appreciate that, at least at the Gala.

For me to really be happy with it, the 2013 Gala gown should really do two things:

1.  Make an impact. I'm too tall to easily blend in, and the Gala is justification for carrying off ambitious or unusual things.
2.  Have at least some connection to the year's theme. Maid Marian was Old Hollywood, with a bonus tribute to the previous year's Medieval theme.

Does the Majestic Mantua qualify? (I think the answer is obvious, or I wouldn't be posting this!)

1. For me, and judging by some friends' opinions, I think this will have an impact! It's definitely an unusual period. It's also an unusual gown for the period. (I'll get into that later.)  The vertical emphasis is also one I can carry off well.

2.  For 2013, the theme is Pirates and Cavaliers.  Cavaliers are mid-1600s, so this gown is a little late. However, the 1690s were still rife with piracy. And here's a crazy coincidence!  One of Rafael Sabatini's adventure novels, Captain Blood, is a pirate book set in the 1680s.  Furthermore, in 1935 it was made into a movie starring - you'll never guess - Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland!
So the Majestic Mantua is close to the Cavaliers and has several Pirate connections, with bonus reference to the previous year's Golden Age of Hollywood. It's perfect!


  1. Oooh! It's going to be fabulous! It looks like I'm going to be able to go to Costume College next year too! I've been pondering gala outfits but nothing's gone beyond the thinking stage.

    1. Thank you! I'm really excited about it. And yay, that you're going! I know, it takes a long time to think of something gala-worthy. Are you thinking of anything in one particular direction?

    2. I'm not sure yet. I'll probably do something vintage or 1910s since I am going to be making 1910s corset and undergarments.

  2. Fabulous plans so far! I'm looking forward to reading more of your ideas and research and seeing it in person next year!