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Old Hair News


I completely forgot to blog about this as it happened when I was on a blog-break.

Some of you might have noticed something in my Birthday Masquerade pictures … No hedgehog.  In fact, it was quite bouffant in a more Marie Antoinette style, wasn’t it?  Well, that’s because I don’t have enough hair to hedgehog anymore!

After a couple of months of not being able to shake the idea, I had my hair cut into a crop:

Sorry it’s just a quick photo the Gent took – I really should get a better shot of it!

Anyway, since I had it done some very generous people started making Audrey Hepburn comments (ha, I wish I looked like her!), but it did get me watching some of her films and I’ve discovered a love for her!  Hence the current obsession with late 50s/early 60s clothing.

Maybe next time I get it cut, I’ll got a bit more BIG, like her wonderful hair in How to Steal a Million (a really fun caper – watch it if you haven’t already!):

What's that, I'm the most stylish woman in the world?

Why yes, I suppose Peter O'Toole is rather handsome.

And it doesn’t show her hair any better, but I do just love this photo:

Funny coincidence – I only saw this film for the first time the other day as it happened to be on TV, but Audrey wears a black lace mask in it.  Of course, hers is far more stylish than mine, but my masquerade mask (back in November) was black lace too … strange!

I’ll leave you with the old school trailer for the film – so different from today’s trailer style!

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I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this when I first saw it – clearly I had a lobotmy that week – so here it is now and my gushing about how much I love it:

Yep, I said it – I don’t mean her (nothing against Lily Cole, it’s just not her I’m in love with), I mean her costume in this scene of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, specifically the pair of stays she is wearing.  Annoyingly, there are very few pictures around of the outfit:

Really, these pictures do the stays no justice – they’ve got this fabulous flowery/fruity thing going on and would make a great fae/goddess/woodland spirit type costume, or go for grapes and get ready for Bacchanalia!

Either way, I love the stays and want them.  I think I’m going to have to buy the DVD and get some screen captures.  The whole outfit is a nod to the 18th century, with that hair and the shift and the pantaloons she’s wearing could either be a Victorian lady’s bloomers or a 17th or 18th century gent’s breeches fancified.

If you haven’t seen the film, do have a looksee: it’s a lot of fun and if you don’t enjoy it, then you at least get to see these stays as they’re right at the beginning!

And yes, it says ‘part I’ up there – I think I’m going to give some film costume love every once in a while, so look out for more as and when the whim strikes me!

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Follow the link for a taster of an embellishment tutorial in the book.

Wow, I must be a bit psychic (that, or it’s a coincidence, but that’s not so fun, right?) as my new book (The Party Dress) was waiting for me when I got home on Friday. I read it cover to cover that evening and here are my thoughts (having only read it, not tried it out):

Positive

  • The dresses are great – there should be something here to suit everyone.
  • There are good ideas for personalising the dresses and making different variations on them.
  • It’s written in a very positive way – he has an upbeat, friendly and encouraging tone, which is exactly what a beginner needs.
  • Gorgeous colour photos throughout with some fun photoshoots (giant white rabbits, anyone?).
  • Embellishment tutorials that you could use on many different projects.

Negative

  • I’m not convinced his examples are perfectly-fitting (there is some wrinkling) – surely this should be the priority in a book about how to make dresses that fit you perfectly? I suspect taking greater care and being more of a perfectionist would help.
  • The instructions aren’t always clear – sometimes I was reading them and couldn’t fully understand what he meant and the photos do not always help. I generally use more than one book when reading up on techniques, anyway.
  • I would disagree with some of his recommendations on what suits the different body shapes – for example, that short people should wear longer lengths, in fact they often make you look even shorter and tend to dwarf shorter ladies (I speak from experience!). I’m not saying short women should never wear long gowns, but you have to do so carefully!

And this point is neither positive not negative, but something for anyone considering this book to be aware of:

  • It does contain four dresses (and a basque top, which is used as the bodice/pattern for the dresses and can be made up separately). Considering the prices of patterns, you wouldn’t be able to buy four patterns for the £10 the book costs (I got it cheaper on Amazon Marketplace, so look out for copies there!), so I consider it a good deal for that alone (plus the block, bow and fabric flower tutorials), but some people might expect more from a book that is specifically about creating ‘the perfect’ party dress. Having said that, I do think that whatever your figure, at least one of these styles should suit you, and Simon Henry does give ideas for variations, so you could make four different takes on the same dress.

Anyway, overall, I would recommend this book, though I doubt it has much to offer the more experienced stitcher except for, perhaps, inspiration.

The other weekend happening – Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical … Bloody amazing!! So, so much fun! Uplifting songs and story, amazing performances and a bus on stage – what more could you ask for? I had a fabulous time. Oh, and the costumes were out of this world – I never in my life thought I would ever watch a stage full of dancing men dressed up as cupcakes. Yep, I’m serious. If you get the opportunity, I heartily recommend this show and challenge you to leave it without a massive grin on your face!

And, lastly, back to dressmaking – the promised pictures of the wrap-over, nearly complete – the bias binding is all on now, though the hemming isn’t yet done and neither is the closure. I’ve tied a scrap of leftover bias around the waist and I quite like the effect, so I think I’m going to sew that at the wrap-overs and tie it at the back. I did originally try this with a wide strip of the blue poplin to create a large bow at the back, but this created too much bulk around the waist. My only slight concern is that adding this red bias changes the lines on the dress – does it spoil the shape?

(Sorry the photos aren’t fab – my camera is still being dead and the Boy’s one refused to work, too!  Only bad thing about my phone – rubbish camera.)

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Nottingham is a great place to be when a Robin Hood film is about to come out – May is seeing a host of outlaw-related events, with today’s being a tourney at the Castle.  I was lucky enough to go and check out Robin, his Merry Men (the good Friar being considerably more merry than the others … I think that might be something to do with the mug of ale he was sloshing about as he rode around the tourney grounds … ) and the Sheriff of Nottingham … and I managed to take some photos (though they are on my phone, so they’re a bit grainy, I’m afraid):

Robin Hood & his Merry Men - huzzah!

The Sheriff & his Men - boo, hissss!

The men of both sides rode around, seeking favours from the ladies in the crowd, which was a nice touch, though I suspect they didn’t get many as it was so bloody cold – us gentlewoman needed to keep hold of our scarves or else die of frostbite!  (Yeah, welcome to the British Spring – beautifully unpredictable!)  But I tell you, if it had been warmer, Will Scarlett would have been in luck – he was rather dashing, indeed!

BAM!!!

The final battle - a melee free-for-all - chaaaaarge!

Of course, Robin finishes triumphant!

And his prize?  The hand of the Lady Marian:

There is also a small exhibition inside the castle of actual costumes and props from the film, but no photography was allowed, alas.  I can’t wait to see the film, though – looks a bit awesome!

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I’m not sure how much this sort of thing is reported internationally, but in the UK we are rapidly approaching a General Election and last night was a historic night in British politics: the leaders of the three main parties stood up on live television and had a debate, answering questions from the audience.  OK, OK so there were quite stringent rules (for instance, the audience weren’t allowed to clap, jeer or generally react or make noise, though there was some laughter once or twice)) and the presenter wasn’t allowed to probe their claims, but it was interesting even if it wasn’t perfect.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I post about politics over the next few weeks …

Brown, Clegg , Cameron & Alistair Stewart, the presenter. Photo from The Guardian.

There has been much talk about a hung Parliament, which kinda makes sense – there’s so little to choose between Labour and Conservative, that the country may as well share their vote almost equally between the two.  Although there are dangers with a hung Parliament (that is, where no one party wins an outright majority in the House of Commons), I think it’s what a great many people in the country want.  We are all so disillusioned with the two main parties (both the same) and the political system, that we want to shake them up, perhaps even remind them that they only have their power thanks to us, the everyday person on the street, the electorate.

I thought Nick Clegg was a revelation, which is both a good and bad thing.  As the leader of the Liberal Democrats, he stands in a very unusual position in this election: many believe a Liberal Democrat vote is a wasted vote as they ‘can’t win’ a General Election, yet if there is a hung Parliament it is most likely his party that will be asked to ally with Labour or the Conservatives to form a Government. 

After last night, I think he will have won a great many voters to his party’s cause – great, my political views are closest to those of the Lib Dems (lefty liberals) – but I fear that it comes at greater cost to Labour (historically more left wing) than to the Conservatives (traditionally more right wing), which I am worried may swing the balance.  If Labour loose too much of the vote, there won’t be enough of an even split between Labour and Conservative to cause a hung Parliament, leaving the Conservatives the outright leaders. 

To me, that’s the worst possible scenario – I dislike the Conservatives and their values and goals (for example, to re-introduce fox hunting despite the fact the majority of the country is against it.  Never mind my personal views on the issue, but to bring back a practice that the majority of the nation opposes goes against the basic principal of democracy, which is a general feature of the party – benefit their buddies and sod everyone else.) and I think their rule without the temperance of a Liberal Democrat alliance would be terrible for the people of this country.

But all that is some weeks away yet – we’ll have to wait until 6th of May to see what happens, and there are more debates and more campaigning in the meantime.  Three weeks is a long time in UK politics.

A few predictions:

  • The Lib Dems will be under greater scrutiny as Clegg has been declared the ‘winner’ of the first debate.
  • After his disappointing performance in the debate, Cameron will try to play the underdog in the next one.
  • Many will still think of a Lib Dem vote as a ‘wasted vote’.
  • Many will vote for Lib Dems as a protest against the traditional Labour/Conservative two-horse race, but not enough to make a Lib Dem government.
  • Cameron will continue to be slimy to viewers and the audience in future debates.  (He’ll continue to mention how his children go to state schools and how great he thinks the NHS is and how proud he is of it and our country, a variation on this theme is his praise for our service-men and -women.)
  • Brown will continue to be slimy to Clegg in future debates.
  • Both Brown and Cameron will be somewhat tougher on Clegg in future debates since he did so well this time, while at the same time they will continue to court him just in case there is a hung Parliament – they still want him on-side.  (Last night it was really interesting to see how deferential they were towards him – they would talk over each other, but whenever Clegg spoke up, they both fell silent.)
  • There will be drinking games in future debates based around how often they do any of the following: Cameron/Brown suck up to Clegg, anyone says “brave service-men and -women” or thanks someone for their hard work as a nurse/teacher/member of the armed forces/etc, they pay lip service to Parliamentary reform, apologises for the expenses scandal … and so on.

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Georgian Period Films


I must have been a good girl in 2009 because I was lucky enough to receive amongst my presents a voucher for HMV, which I trotted out with at the weekend and bought a couple of Georgian films I hadn’t yet seen …

As I had the flat to myself on Sunday night, I had a chance to watch both films in a bit of a mini Georgian film Festival (complete with malt loaf – I’ve decided no film festival is complete without malt loaf and I will be writing to Cannes regarding this post haste).

Suitably Rake-ish behaviour, indeed!

It’s a hard call to say which was my favourite, but I think The Duellists just noses ahead of Barry Lyndon as I found our Barry a bit tiresome at times, which is a shame, because the more exciting parts are just what I like in my stories about 18th century rakes!  Whereas The Duellists is all kinds of exciting with its (as the title suggests) duels!  I do enjoy a good duel fought with swords, and it actually was good research for A Thief & A Gentlewoman, which will feature a fair few duels, I dare say.

Touche!

Touche!

However, The Duellists did give me some concern as I found myself thinking that Keith Carradine was rather handsome … and this disturbs me as I’m used to thinking of him as a considerably older Special Agent Lundy (of Dexter fame) or, more recently, as a bit of a cad as Mr Harding in Dollhouse.

If that hat isn't commitment to costume authenticity at all costs (even at risk of looking a wee bit silly), then I don't know what is.

Disturbingly handsome older men or not, do check out both these films if you haven’t already, even if it is just for the costume porn!  (Plenty of men’s uniforms in both films and some rather gorgeous gowns and hats particularly in the second half of Barry Lyndon.  In fact, I feel quite bad for Barry – I might have to watch this again and reconsider my opinion of it.)

Pretty things in Barry Lyndon

On a slightly random finishing note – how come the German poster for The Duellists is so much better than the English one?  I would definitely put this up in my home:*

*Also, why is the ‘Special Collector’s Edition’ bit in English and not auf Deutsch?

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