Cut! – Finding Neverland – Mary’s gold and black dress

Costume poster

After so many boring beige/off-white costumes from the Cut! museum exhibit, this one is FAR more interesting to me!

This dress is the gold and black dress worn by ‘Mary’ (played by Radha Mitchell) in Finding Neverland.  (Yeppers, another Johnny Depp movie!)

Although the Costumer’s Guide doesn’t have a separate discussion of this dress, there are photos (from the Cinematic Couture show) on the website.  Likewise on the Neverland Costumes website, there are a few screenshots and photos from the same exhibit.

From the poster (click for a larger version), the film is described as:

“The story of J.M. Barrie’s friendship with a family who inspired him to write Peter Pan  Set in London, 1903.”

The costume is described as:

“The wife of Sir James Matthew Barrie wears this gold and black textured silk evening dress with a black satin bodice overlaid with tulle and trimmed with beaded fringe.  Bugle beads in a circular motif decorate the side of the dress.”

Mary’s Gold and Black dress

The dress is very dramatic, but also feels a bit disconnected to me – the bodice reminds me of something  out of Titanic, while the bottom reminds me more of Erte’s designs from the late teens and early 1920s.

Mary’s dress – bust detail

Insane amounts of beading cover the bodice, including the under-arm area, which seems really impractical and uncomfortable.  Still, very glamourous!  I love the dangling ‘shelf’ of bugle beads.  Although the description says that the bodice is black satin, overlaid with tulle, it looks to me more like nude satin overlaid with tulle, since there is a distinct colour difference between the ‘black’ bodice and the black skirt.

Mary’s dress – bust

My suspicion of the nude satin seems to hold merit when you look at the dressform fabric through the sheer sleeve – it’s the same colour as the bodice…

Mary’s dress – hip detail

Here you can get a really good idea f the textured gold silk.  The black on the other hand is very matte in comparison, which works well to highlight the circular beaded motifs.  The beaded appliques on the skirt don’t really jump out to me though, which is probably good, because I think the focus should really be drawn to the sequined and beaded hip instead. I photographed the hip in more detail below.

Mary’s Dress – hip

Unfortunately, I didn’t see this dress in the trailer, but nonetheless, here it is!

The volume is terribly low, so you’ll need to turn your speakers up!

Cut! – Howard’s End – Meg

Costume Poster

Another costume from the Cut! exhibit that I took some photos are from another movie I haven’t seen yet – Howard’s End which is from 1992. The movie is set in England in 1908-1910, and the poster describes this costume. (Click the image for a full-size version.)

Emma Thompson steps out of her roll as an enlightened bourgeois and humanist free thinker to step into the role of step mother dressing for her step-daughter’s wedding. This black dress with white lace bodice grew from the director’s desire to make the world of Howard’s End seem genuinely inhabited and the costumer’s wish to show ‘real clothes made in an authentic way’. It illustrates how original pieces of detailing such as the lace on the bodice can be blended with new but period-correct fabrics to make an outfit which looks exactly as it would have in 1908-1910. The skirt of this dress is cut on the bias and was draped on Emma to ensure that the folds fell correctly on her and looked natural. Mauve velvet flowers at the neckline and a straw bonnet with a cream silk crown complete the ensemble.”

Meg's costume from Howard's End

I couldn’t really get a full-length shot of this dress, so this is the best that I can do!  It doesn’t really show off the bias-cut skirt very well, but it gives a decent idea of what the costume looks like.

Meg's costume from Howard's End

A close up of the lace at the bodice.  I found the cut edge really interesting – how it looks as though it’s part of the bodice, and yet separate at the same time. However, looking at the size of the netting connecting the embroidered/couched motifs, the netting in the overall netting looks much larger than the net where the flowers are.  This shot also shows a bit of the pleating at the waist on the black silk.

Meg's hat from Howard's End

I was much more interested in the hat for this costume than the dress itself – a straw hat with a wide black velvet trim at the outside edge and black hatband.  Then the hat’s crown is covered in ivory silk –with how poofy the silk is, I imagine that there’s also a tulle support under the silk.  The description calls this a ‘bonnet’ – however from what I understand, a bonnet has ties to hold it on.  This one doesn’t have ties, but I’m not sure if the ‘ties’ thing is accurate or not.

Meg's hat from Howard's End

In this shot you can see the black hatband, covering that the poofy ivory silk is actually gathered onto a small band of ivory silk.  There is also a ivory silk… flower?  (with the black stem) I don’t entirely understand this… or perhaps I’m just not seeing it right.

Meg's hat from Howard's End

I also really wanted to get a shot of the underside of the hat, but unfortunately it doesn’t give me quite as much as I would like.  I had thought if it was unlined, I’d be able to see if this was just built on a straw directly (since I could see the straw crown), but since the hat is lined, I can’t really see anything – other than the ivory (silk?) lining.

Promo photo from Howard's End from Cheddar Bay. Click for the original source.

Cut! – The Golden Bowl – Charlotte’s blue dress

The poster for the costumes. Click to enlarge

The poster for the fourth and final gown from The Golden Bowl is my favorite, and the one that I would possibly be the most inspired by.  The poster (which you can click to enlarge as always) says:

The Golden  Bowl

Set in England, 1903-1906

“Uma Thurman as Charlotte Stant

The depth of colour of this dress comes through the layering of several colours of fabric.  The top layer is black-spangled lace which is laid on a second layer of medium blue net.  The third layer is green and turquoise shot silk which “glows’ through the first two layers.  The whole is finished with black velvet trim.  The bodice is made with the same layers of fabric and has what is called a “pouched” front and full puffed sleeves.”

Charlotte's blue dress

The above (nearly) full-length photo shows the blue and black fabrics, but you don’t really get a feel for the green and turquoise shot silk, apart from a slight indication at the top right hand side near the bust/neckline.

Full length of Charlotte's blue dress. The hat in the background belongs to another costume worn by the same character.

Here’s a longer view of the dress, albeit with the poster at the bottom left!

Close up of the cuff

On the cuff there are small knotted cord decorations -as though the cuff buttoned up.  There’s also just the tiniest hint of blue netting poking through (that must have been itchy and uncomfortable to wear!) and the velvet ribbon on the sleeve hem.

Close up of the shoulder

On the shoulder you can get a better idea of all of the colours in this dress.  here you can see the black, the blue, and the turquoise, along with the velvet ribbon, and the sequined (spangled) lace.

Close up from the side of the bodice.

Although this isn’t a great photo, this shows the brighter blue showing through. From the front this wasn’t as visible.  Here you can also see the ‘pouched’ bodice and the velvet belt.

even closer shot of the bodice - showing the brighter blue under the black lace.

Here’s an even closer shot of the bodice, where you can see all of the colours of fabrics used in this costume.  Here you can clearly see that the blue net is almost certainly just blue tulle.

velvet, lace, and gathered trim near the hem

This velvet and ruched ribbon trim is near the hem of the skirt – and you can even make out the yellow basting stitches on the bottom of the velvet.

velvet fabric at the edge of the hem

The very hem of the skirt is a velvet band with scalloped lace, covered with ruched ribbon.  On the majority of the dress, the scalloped lace covers the velvet ribbon, but here the scale of the scallops is much larger (which proportionally makes a lot of sense.  However I imagine that this lace isn’t actually scalloped, so the yardage was likely cut in a scallop and the raw edge covered in the ruched ribbon to cover the edge.

On screen

As I’ve previously mentioned, I haven’t seen this movie – so I went looking for screen captures with this dress, and it’s almost certainly the “black dress” shown on the Costume Captures blog.  I find it interesting that although the dress’s multiple shades of blue and the lace come through in person, likely due to lighting on screen – the colour of this dress is almost completely black in the screenshots, with only the sequins giving texture or light.

Cut! – The Golden Bowl – Maggie’s Cream dress

The poster for the costumes. Click to enlarge

There were four outfits from The Golden Bowl (two I have shown you earlier) and this is another that I didn’t particularly care for – but I wanted to share it nonetheless. Like the others, this is set in the Edwardian era, and this costume actually includes vintage fabrics.  The poster (click for larger version) says:

The Golden  Bowl

Set in England, 1903-1906

“Kate Beckinsale as Maggie Verver

This evening dress, worn at home in the film, has a cream sheer fabric over a green silk underskirt.  Lace in floral patterns adorns the bodice and skirt and a gauze panel is seen in the center of the bodice.  A blue sash completes the dress. 

The top layer of this dress is part of an original Edwardian garment.  This stiffened silk muslin with tape and cord floral decorations was carefully lifted off its decaying lining which was replaced with an eau de nil lining shot through with silver threads.  The lace at the hem is also vintage and was added to give a little extra length to the dress.”

Maggie's cream dress

The full-length shot of the dress showing the lace fabric, the lace hem, the bloused bodice, the blue (it looks green to me) sash, and the puffed sleeves along with the necklace.

Close up of cut-work lace at the hip with green layer behind.

Although I don’t care for the overall effect of the dress, I can really appreciate some of the details themselves.  In this photo you can see the faint mint green tulle peeking through the lace.  The lace is sort of battenburg-style, with tatting as well by the looks of things.  These would have likely been individual motifs sewn to the fabric of the dress, and then the remaining fabric behind the motif would have been cut away.


On the hem there’s a mesh fabric with lace flowers covering the same mint green tulle that backed the rest of the lace motifs, and the contrast lining fabric used for the very bottom of the hem.  This fabric really looks as though it was added to allow for additional length, but I think it was well-done.  I admit part of the reason I don’t care for this dress is that although there are a lot of interesting details, they all sort of fade away into one another a bit.  It seems really ‘forgettable’ – which might play into the character a bit.

Another shot of the hem

Above is another shot of the hem, more clearly showing the tulle and all of the different fabrics and trims used at the hem.  This also gives a good impression of the fabric shot with silver threads – giving that subtle sheen to the fabric that the lace doesn’t have.

Side shot of the dress, with a few of the other outfits in the background

From the side, it seems much more interesting to me…

This dress is referred to as the “Sheer Cornsilk Dress” in the Costume Captures blog.

Closer shot of the back, showing the belt with the rhinestone buckle.

I can’t really say that I like the rhinestone buckle with this otherwise ‘soft’ dress – what do you think?

Let me know in the comments below!

Have I mentioned recently how much I love….

Google Books?

General history

Image from Google Books

Image from Google Books. Linked from source, click for reference.

Accessories of Dress: An Illustrated Encyclopedia By Katherine Morris Lester, Bess Viola Oerke, Helen Westermann

This book has a wide variety of accessories from early history until modern times – and as luck would have it, the first part of the book that Google Books offers is on hats – both men’s and women’s hats, from early history until 1930 (when the copyright laws prevent them from showing more).  Masks, wigs, collars, shawls and more are included in the book itself, though the Google Books reference only includes the hat section.  Very fortunate for me, since that’s what I’m specifically interested in right now!

There are some very clear illustrations, however not a ~lot~ on each style… still enough to give a good impression, and a good jumping off point for further research on historical costume.
Another book with a general historial theme, although this one specifically about hats is Hats: a history of fashion in headwear By Hilda Amphlett. Again, this one has sketches of millinery from the 11th century until the 20th century.

Victorian & Edwardian

Image from Google Books.

Image from Google Books. Linked from source, click for resource

Victorian fashions and costumes from Harper’s bazar, 1867-1898 By Stella Blum

A really interesting look at fashion plates from old magazines.  There are also illustrations specifically of hats, jewelry, shawls, parasols and other items.  I would love to have (and have the ROOM to have) these sorts of resource books just for reference when costuming… but checking out the pages that Google Books has available for the time being is the next best thing!

A related reference book with fashion plates is Victorian and Edwardian fashions from “La Mode Illustrée By JoAnne Olian, also available in part on Google Books.

Next up, patterns – again taken (I imagine) from magazines from the Victorian era Authentic Victorian Fashion Patterns: A Complete Lady’s Wardrobe By Kristina Harris.  I’ve seen this sort of thing before, and there are a bunch of caveats when using these for actual pattern-making… 1) historic clothing fits differently than modern clothing 2) the patterns aren’t multi-sized, so you need some idea of grading for your size. 3) patterns are rarely included for facings, cuffs, etc.  With those caveats, seeing the more detailed patterns is a great way to see how different shapes were made, and then translate that into original drafts.  There is another book on Google Books that I found: Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques  By Kristina Harris however it mostly shows hand-sewing techniques, and although there might be more to the book…. I wasn’t nearly so excited as I was about the others.

Edwardian, Regency & the Teens

Google Books

Again, from Google Books - click away!

Everyday fashions, 1909-1920, as pictured in Sears catalogs By JoAnne Olian

More actual historic illustrations – this time from 1909-1920.  I love seeing the actual catalogue illustrations of the hats from earlier in the period – how big those hats were!

For more fashion plates (with lots of descriptive information) this time from the Regency era, they also have Ackermann’s costume plates: women’s fashions in England, 1818-1828 By Stella Blum, Rudolph Ackermann

But alas…

There’s also a book listed, with no preview at all – that I’m really curious to see more of…. Practical millinery lessons by Julia Bottomley

Oh, but there’s also…

On the topic of Google Books – although Google Books specifically didn’t have the following books, they were available through the Hathi Trust Digital Library. Millinery, by Charlotte Rankin Aiken.

From the University of Wisconsin library, there is The art of millinery: a complete series of practical lessons for the artiste and the amateur by Anna Ben Yusuf, which, I will admit I didn’t look too much at – I found it difficult to scroll through all the pages quickly to scan it… so I’m noting it for another time!

There is also Your millinery by Winifred Reiser at the Wisconsin library as well, which I also didn’t actually go through.  😦

The Library of Congress has a full digital version of A complete course in millinery  by Julia Bottomley, & Emma Maxwell Burke, which looks really interesting as well. I skimmed through this one, but think it’s worth a read later on as well. There is also a copy of Home millinery course by National Millinery Company, which covers similar material, but is less extensive.