Two Prom Dresses from Liana’s Paper Doll Boutique

Click for the doll.

So I said I drew a few prom dresses for the Boutique, and here are the first two of them! I don’t think they’re particularly based on any real gowns, but it’s been a long time…

Johanna at 18th century fashion linked to a sort of museum social networking site, Creative Spaces which is a way to tag, collect and organize works from different museums that are participating. I love this, because one of my biggest issues is, say, looking for gowns from a specific year and going through this crazy avalanche of Google image searches and bookmarks and links to sites I’ve never seen before and links to sites I’ve used before and then forgetting where I saw what. I’m sure there’s some widget I could use to fit with my stream-of-consciousness research style, but in the meantime I like where this is going. If you join up, add me as a contact and then explore the Things Liana Likes notebook!

Empire Waist Light and Dark Purple Prom Dress with Sequins and Scroll Embroidery

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

So I got an e-mail from a reader named Brittany who also likes to draw paperdolls, and she suggested that I do some more up-to-date outfits, maybe some pants, shorts, bathing suits and dresses “that are actually in this time period.” (Her e-mail was very sweet and not snarky at all, I just thought that phrasing was funny!) I wrote back to her, but for some reason the response didn’t go through, so I’ll post the reply here:

I think that’s great that you design your own outfits! (It’s fun, isn’t it? :) ) The problem with more fashionable outfits is that I, personally, am possibly the least fashionable human being in America, I wear boring clothes myself and don’t watch much TV or read fashion magazines. So when I think of what’s going on in my life that I might want to draw a paperdoll about, I don’t often think of something cool ;) But you’re really right, that it would be interesting to have more modern, stylish outfits as well, so I will consider some outfits like
that for the future. I used to draw prom dresses when I was in high school, but I haven’t paid attention to prom styles for a while… maybe I’ll start there! Thank you for the suggestion. :)

And it’s true, I mostly wear pretty but unfashionable dresses and skirts. Pretty clothes are one thing, but fashion, constantly changing clothes and adornments that send messages about class, taste and individuality, that’s a whole different animal. To me, style is like a language where my mastery is limited to asking “Is this vegetarian?” and “Where is the bathroom?” So for this particular project I’ll start with something I can get into: prom dresses. After all, it looks like your average prom dress is as far removed from catwalks and Vogue as I am.

Now, looking through prom dresses, they don’t seem too different from the kinds that were around when I was in high school — except that the pick-up skirt is a new one on me. I can see it as a design element, part of a well-balanced dress, but the full pick-up skirt that looks like a poofy, sloppy, satin pineapple? Let’s just say I think the pick-up skirt ought to get off of my darn lawn. I can sort of understand the appeal on an intellectual level, I didn’t mind this one, but it just seems that the line between “opulent and romantic” and “sloppy trainwreck” is just so easily crossed. Well, the children of 2030 need something to laugh at, I guess. Aside from that, it seems like the ball gown skirt is out, sleeves of any sort are out, fussy (aside from those pick-up skirts) is out, and a more classical look – albeit one dressed up with sparkles and pretty designs – is in. Here’s my take on one — and yes, the white paint pen is definitely a new toy.

I didn’t end up going to prom (graduated before the year was over, it’s a long story — although I doubt I could have talked my husband, then my boyfriend, into it anyways) but for those of you who did, what kind of dress did you have?

Bella Swan’s Hyacinth Blue Prom Dress from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Click for larger version; click for the list of dolls.

So I read Twilight a while back, after reading about how it was the hot new thing for starry-eyed young girls and their unappreciated mothers. (I had to go through a waiting list of about 114 people for it, too.) I admit that I enjoyed it, in the same way I’ll admit to liking Naruto — it’s definitely shallow, artless wish-fulfillment, but that straightforwardness in and of itself makes it rather sweet. Also, Edward reminds me of Brian in one respect, in that he’s always teasing me about something or another. Beyond that the comparisons are few, but between me and Bella, I’ve got the better guy.

The criticisms of the book depicting really lousy relationship behaviors as desirable, Bella and Edward being Mary Sue characters (e.g. entirely perfect — clumsiness is not a character flaw, thank you), Bella being a moron (I don’t agree with that one, I felt like she was depicted as a book-smart, classics-reading, aloof old soul) and so forth have been addressed at length elsewhere, I’m sure, so I’ll stick to what I know — what? no good dress descriptions? Bella is always wearing things like jeans and flannel, or a brown turtleneck or some such monstrosity. What’s the fun of a proper vampire romance if you’re wearing flannel? The only fancy dress she gets comes in at the end, and isn’t very well described besides being hyacinth blue and off the shoulder. On Stephenie Myers’ website is a cut first draft of the dressing for prom scene, in which the dress gets a little more attention. It wouldn’t work for my paperdolls since I don’t do see-through fabric (so Sylvia and Iris, as well as any other skin colors I draw, can both wear anything), but even if I did, even after much musing on the relevant paragraph, I’m not sure quite what to make of the description. Mostly I’m stuck on the sash at the waist, which is “paled-flowered, hyacinth fabric, that pleated together to form a thin ruffle down the left side” and then goes on to be long at the back and open at the front. Rosalie calls it haute couture, and given that a lot of haute couture is a little beyond me too, maybe the problem is on my side after all. But anyways, that dress is merely from the first draft; I decided on my own version for the paperdoll. For that is the appeal, after all, to put yourself in the heroine’s shoes and stunning gown, imagining yourself the target of slavish devotion from the perfect man. I like it that way, because a quick search through DeviantArt will show as many Bella prom dresses as there are Twilight fanartists, all the way from “her dad wouldn’t let her out of the house wearing that” to full-on medieval princess. Even the movie’s version looks nothing like the others. Me, I envisioned the dress as somewhere between a 1950s party dress and something out of Gone With The Wind, and so that’s what we have here.

I probably won’t go see the movie – I’ve got enough vampirism in my own house.

Anyways! I think the last two polls are pretty clearly over, so let’s start the Grand Halloween Showdown!