Well, it's that time of year again--the Navy Ball is in a couple months, so it's time for me to pull out the sewing machine and challenge myself with a modern gown inspired by historical fashions.
Last year I created a gown based on 1930s evening-wear, with a modern twist. This year I want to try something based on one of my favorite epochs in fashion, the 1870s-80s, that, unfortunately, I have very little cause to create clothing for. Unlike other time periods, there's not a lot happening in my area that warrants whipping up a late Victorian re-creation.
However, the period provides tons of inspiration from which to create a modern gown.
The elements I plan to pull from the inspiration gowns, however, are characteristic of the time period:
1) Bustling. No, there won't be a wire or other heavy-duty support underneath, but I intend to create a "bum poof" of draped fabric. It remains to be seen if the fabric will support this on its own, or if I'll need to face the inside with some tulle for stiffness.
2) Neckline. Note that all three necklines featured in the inspiration board have wide v-shapes, narrowing over the shoulders (specifically the black-and-white fashion plate). I plan to drape a chiffon over-bodice to mimic this look, but show the strapless neckline underneath for a modern twist.
3) Front Drape. Another characteristic element, particularly well-shown in the peach-colored gown, is a drape across the front. I plan to extend the chiffon over-bodice down into a draped skirt--how, exactly, this will drape will have to wait until I get the basic construction done and can play with the fabric. I'm not ruling out poofs or cascades of chiffon.
A few notes on odd elements in the inspiration board:
1) Sapphire: I like the color, I like the subdued opulence, I like the hard edges and soft sheen. It's a nice metaphor for the gown, with its simple, straight underdress and softly-draped overdress.
2) Ostrich Plume: Nope, I don't plan on using any feathers. But the feathery, soft drape reminded me of how I wanted the chiffon to look.
3) Blue Fabric (background): This is about the shade I plan to use, in a heavy-ish satin.
4) Building with Columns: Last year I included an interior shot of the location of the ball for inspiration, an ornate, luxuriously painted and decorated foyer. This year I'm struck by the architectural columns--the subtly detailed simplicity producing an elegant look.
I'm heading to a dear friend's place this weekend for a sewing bonanza--I'll see how much I get done on this project, between fits of giggles and cooking delicious meals together. I'll try to take pictures of the project in progress--I'll update next week!