Monday, August 9, 2010

Ode to Peacock Blue, Part Two

It's a funny thing, that sharmon mentioned in the comments on Saturday's post that peacock blue is a color she uses to indicate a certain kind of character, because that's precisely what I intended to write about today. I hadn't realized I did this until I got my fabric and started planning the gown, but there is a peacock blue gown in each of the novels I've written.

The first is more significant than the second--a peacock gown as a wedding ensemble in the now-shelved Linden Hall. Despite my adoration of eighteenth-century clothes, I only went off the deep end twice in this project with the clothing descriptions which, given that it was set in 1780s Charleston, probably the most fashionable city in the Americas at the time, was quite a feat. This was one of them; as you can see, the clothing becomes a bit of a symbol by the end of the passage (the kind of significance a good gown deserves, really):

"Will you tie my necklace on for me?” Marjory asked. Anna obliged, tying the silk ribbon into a neat bow. She had expected Marjory to look different, to somehow bear the mark of her disgrace. Instead, she was characteristically stunning, wearing a peacock blue taffeta gown over an ochre petticoat that matched her amber jewelry. There was a frond of a peacock feather pinned into her dark curls. The iridescent eye of the feather winked in the light as Marjory turned her head. She was tightly laced beneath her fashionable gown, Anna noted, and wondered whether this was medically sound... Marjory sighed, and regarded her reflection in the mirror. Suddenly, she grasped the pin holding the peacock plume in place and tore it from her hair, flattening the feather onto the vanity beneath her open palm.

The other, in December, my WIP, I held back on, leaving only:

“Well, how was it?” Gloria had changed into a dark teal cocktail dress with a corsage pinned to it. Emily wondered who the flowers were from.

Yes, I say dark teal. What I have in my head....peacock blue on the greener side.

The really funny thing is that these two characters have a lot of similarities, and not just that they'd both look incredible in peacock blue. Marjory is a classic Southern beauty, but eighteenth-century style rather than Victorian--so she's spicy and witty and not at all retiring. Gloria is a chorus dancer in 1940s Chicago. Both are beautiful, but what's more, they know that they're stunning and use that to their advantange. In the end, both end up a bit crushed by the machinations of men they had hoped to manipulate (who both figure in the scenes, oddly case you didn't discern from the limited verbiage, Marjory is pregnant, forcing her into the world's most elegant shotgun wedding, and the flowers Gloria wears are from a slimy theater producer). I've a feeling neither will be kept down for long, though. After all, they're the sort of lady who wears peacock blue.

So what does it say that I'm currently obsessed with the color? Probably not much--as much as I'd love to pull a coquette move once in a while, it really isn't in my nature. However, I do find myself wanting to dress like my characters--imagining those fantastic 1940s ensembles makes me wish we still had that degree of class in our dressing, that we still wore hats and gloves and got dolled up to go out to dinner or dancing.

Any colors, clothes, or other outward trappings that surface in your writing? Any ensembles you've read about in books or seen in movies that made you want to acquire them for yourself?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'd love to dress like the little newsboys of the 1920s. Ha - how's that for not fitting in?

I love the way you contrast the clashing eras. :-)

- Corra said...

Lovely writing in Linden Hall. Why is it shelved? It sounds intriguing, not least of which is the fact that it is in Charleston--aahhhh. Just got back from Savannah and Beaufort this June and it's too wonderful.

Rowenna said...

Corra--you should totally go for the 20s newsboy look--all in the accessories, wouldn't you say? Jaunty cap, battered leather satchel? Perhaps a vest?

Sharmon--thank you! Shelved because, well...long story short, made the agent rounds, got great feedback, don't think I can take it to the level of immediacy and conflict it needed. Maybe someday :) For now...onward and upward!

Anonymous said...

I had never thought about thisn until I read your blog, but yes . . . in the first two novels I wrote, I seemed to have a pre-dilection for coffee-coloured silks, shot silk that vacillated between amethyst and chocolate, earth colours. It may have been that the femal protagonist had wild red hair, but I could 'see' her in theses colours and I could see the embroidery likewise, which had to be the fruits of the hedgerows and the insects, things from the stumpwork that I emebroider myself and which look wonderful on a piece of coffee silk.