For Costume College this past summer, a group of ladies decided to make Lost Hope costumes inspired by the fabulous book and BBC miniseries, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I had already made one Lost Hope costume a few years ago, but after seeing this world brought to life in the new miniseries, I was totally charmed by the silvery gowns seen at the nightly faerie balls, as well the creepiness of the scenes where the not-quite-human moss-oak version of Arabella wandered through the wilderness in a black gown. Confused? Go watch the miniseries! *cough*youtube*cough* It's SO GOOD!
So instead of re-wearing my old gown, I decided to combine these two influences into one dress by adding some silver sparkle and a few fun accessories to my black Regency mourning gown. I found some silver lamé fabric in the clearance bin with a design that reminded me of gnarled wood. It's pretty gaudy in large doses, but when you just see glimpses of the pattern and sparkle under the sheer black fabric of my mourning gown, it fit my vision perfectly for an oak-y ballgown. The lamé undergown is a bib-front style dress, and I could also wear this gown on its own... if I ever want a disco-themed Regency costume.
Sleeveless overbodices were a popular way to dress up Regency ballgowns, so I decided to also use the lamé to make a new bodice to wear over my gown. I ended up cutting it too high in the back at the waistline, so I had to improvise and add a little peplum to cover the gap. But this turned out to be a happy accident because I think the peplum adds a fun detail to an otherwise simple garment. I had originally planned on embellishing my bodice with lots of beads and spangles and embroidery, but I ran out time, and honestly, I'm not sure how much that sort of thing would show up anyway since the fabric is already pretty busy.
I also made a faerie tiara by twisting together some plastic sprigs of grain sold with the fall floral supplies. I wanted my costume to be sort of creepy and earthy, so I added some plastic bugs to my tiara for good measure before spray panting the whole thing silver. I also loved the look of moss-oak Arabella's wavy, raven-colored hair, so I bought a long, black, 3/4 wig, and I sprayed the front of my own hair with temporary hair color to match. A simple beaded necklace and a pair of silver flats from the resale shop finished off my outfit.
Unfortunately, sunny California summers don't make the best backdrop for slightly sinister moss-oak gowns, so I've been dragging my feet about posting this write-up in the hopes that I could take some better photos in a more appropriate setting. I finally had my wish granted this past weekend, and I snuck away on the evening of Halloween to take some pictures in a muddy park after a few days of heavy rain. Then I used Photoshop to make the photos even darker and more blue to match the look of the miniseries. Much better! Now I feel like I'm finally ready for an otherworldly faerie ball.