Whiskey’s White Gown from Dollhouse, Epitaph One

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So I did a Dollhouse-themed yoga getup earlier this year during Season 1, at which point I was enjoying it well enough to keep going, but maybe a little dubious, and I still liked Firefly better. As the season progressed, though, it kept getting better and better, ending with the unbroadcasted episode Epitaph One, a depressing preview of the Dollverse’s future. Now we’ve seen where the show is going, I’m dreadfully curious to find out just how it’s going to get there; luckily Fox renewed the show – unexpectedly, I should add – and the second season started yesterday, although I’ll be watching on Hulu tonight (yep, I’m one of those coveted new media viewers).

Epitaph One had Whiskey wearing this dress, although I hope it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that the hem really ought to be blood stained and I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it tonight. So far I’ve really liked the costumes for Dollhouse – I bet it’s got to be fun picking out what to wear for all the different assignments. (There’s a sort of meta-costuming aspect to it, too, as we’ve seen a huge costume warehouse in the Dollhouse itself. I would guess that there is some sort of costume director position in the Dollhouse, as I somehow can’t see Boyd picking out those crocheted thigh-highs for Echo…)

So, it’s the 26th, let’s talk Halloween. Like I did last year, I want to do a month’s worth of Halloween costumes. I really like the idea of four “themes,” a new one for each week, and I got a lot of great suggestions, so now I’m putting it up to a vote! This is just for what I’ll do for the first week, so feel free to give me more suggestions for weeks 2-4.

By the way, no one has guessed my favorite Prismacolor yet…

1778 Light Blue Robe a la Polonaise with Rose and Flower Trim Inspired by Fanny Burney’s Evelina

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So I recently finished listening to the Librivox recording of Evelina by Fanny Burney, which is not a book I knew of before browsing the Librivox catalog but I’m quite glad I put in the sixteen hours necessary to listen to it. I don’t recall Evelina being referenced in any of the Jane Austen novels, but I believe a couple of Fanny Burney’s other novels are mentioned in Northanger Abbey. Certainly Austen would have read Evelina, and her characters might have secretly wished for a Lord Orville like everyone seems to wish for a Mr. Darcy these days. It’s about a timid and innocent girl, who is overly both, I think, for modern sensibilities, but still a sympathetic main character. Her situation was so precarious (she has a “mysterious” background and no powerful friends looking out for her interests) and she always seemed to be getting into so many misunderstandings that I had to look the ending up on Wikipedia to make myself less nervous about the possibility of her being deceived by a rake or exposed to ridicule in a way that would destroy her reputation forever. (Having recently come off of The Age of Innocence, and having abandoned Ruth after skimming its Wikipedia page and finding out that things didn’t end well, I couldn’t sink hours into listening to another depressing novel.) I think, though, that it’s a very fun novel even if I fretted over the heroine and her perils. Sir Clement Willoughby is a tremendous bounder and it’s quite satisfying to despise him, and Evelina’s family and acquaintances are all colorful even if they’re mortifying to her. It might remind a modern reader of Austen, but the feeling that something is always about to go wrong makes it more salacious. Elizabeth Bennett was never caught by Mr. Darcy in the company of disreputable women, that’s for sure.

The book was published in 1778, and there aren’t any time references inside the book that meant anything to me, so I’m just going to go with what its readers might have worn although the book perhaps was set a couple years earlier. Corbis has, for some reason, a great number of fashion plates from 1778 (just search “1778 dress”) and I was struck by how different many of them appeared from what I think of from the late 1700s, the robe á la française and the robe à l’anglaise. The style that struck me is apparently the robe à la Polonaise, and even if perhaps Evelina is supposed to be set a couple years earlier than 1778, I will comfort myself with the thought of her wearing many of these dresses after the novel ends. Don’t ask me about the hat. It didn’t quite work out, but the first draft ended up with antennae and a windmill so this is sort of an improvement.

Incidentally, I was a little surprised to find Evelina mentioned in a recent article about the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, as it boasts “literature’s first shopping spree”. Yeah, I’m probably not going to see that movie, even if it has clothes like this unholy concoction of neon ribbon and dalmatian fur that beg for paperdolling. I was reading an article a while back (couldn’t find it, sadly) talking about how in this economic climate, over-the-top chick flicks like Shopaholic might be edited so that the protagonists learn a couple convenient lessons before the end, which made me think, yeah, I’d probably fork over $8 to watch a movie like “Confessions of a Shopaholic” if the main character ended up like Lily Bart.

By the way, mark your calendars for the 22nd, a week from now: I’m going to be liveblogging (livedrawing?) the Oscars. I don’t know precisely how that will work, but it’s going to be fun.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses (A Christmas Tale), Day 1: Perdita’s Red Gown with Rose Embroidery and Gold Trim

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Once upon a time, a king and twelve princesses lived in a distant land far in the north. Some of the princesses were his own daughters, some were adopted, some were cousins of varying distances, but they were all kind, merry and if not all wise, at least exceedingly smart. The king, whatever his other faults, loved them all dearly and considered all of them his own, but this affection, no longer tempered by the wisdom of the queen who had passed on in their childhood, led to over-protecting his precious girls. For he had read the story of the man who became Buddha, but managed to glean the wrong lesson entirely from it. “Such a wise man the Buddha’s father was, such sound ideas of child-rearing,” he thought, and therefore the princesses were brought up with the utmost care. They never knew even a mild cold, much less contact with bitter poverty or death; even balls were forbidden. “You would get chilled to the bone just leaving the castle,” insisted the King, “you would have to travel for hours, and goodness knows what kinds of people you might meet at one of those sordid affairs.” Instead, when a suitor came to call, he would be forced into a game of chess with the desired princess, the King standing behind her, smiling gleefully as his daughter beat the stuffing out of the flabbergasted suitor.

For the princesses were all very good at chess, having played each other for hours on end. As a matter of fact, they were accomplished at all one might learn or do without leaving the castle, for they were smart women and hated being bored. Perdita, the eldest, was the cleverest and the best at chess, but they all had their specialties. For example, Camellia was the wisest, with the personality of a judge and a few books about the laws of her country and child rearing under her belt, while Juliette had perfect pitch and a knack for playing about any instrument she touched.

Winter in this kingdom was much like any other season there, but the princesses felt even more restless than usual around this time of year. They had no Christmas parties to look forwards to, no way to help the less fortunate, no one to carol to except the castle residents who had heard all their songs before. They would do things like read Christmas stories to each other and decorate the castle to within an inch of its life, of course, but it wasn’t really what they hoped for. They pleaded for a change of some sort, as they had every year, and their father was getting quite tired of all their petitions and complaints. Then, one day near the beginning of December, the petitions suddenly stopped.  The King — not, frankly, a very introspective man — thought they had finally learned that whining got them nowhere.

He was very angry, then, to learn that the silence didn’t stem from obedience, but from subterfuge. For after luxuriating in the silence for a week, he learned from the royal cobbler one morning that the princesses had all requested new slippers recently. This seemed a trivial fact to him, and he was prepared to scold the cobbler for bothering him with nonsense, until the cobbler patiently spelled it out for him.

“Your Majesty, it seemed strange to me merely because the slippers are so new, I made them just two months ago, but now they return to me so very worn. Usually the princesses’ slippers last for a good deal of time — well, except for the twins’ shoes.” The king frowned, obviously preparing to scold, and the cobbler went on quickly. “So you see, these shoes have seen a great deal of use as of late…”

“Use? What do you mean?”

“I mean,” stammered the cobbler, who was a wise old man who was a little embarrassed about having to explain something so obvious, “that they are walking more, perhaps, or dancing, or leaving the castle. Nothing else can account for how worn the slippers look in such a short time.”

“What?!” roared the king, jumping up from his throne. “Dancing? Leaving the castle? I knew it! I knew they were being too quiet,” he said triumphantly, although he had known nothing of the kind. He snatched the worn pair of shoes from the cobbler and stormed down the hallway to the princesses’ chambers. Throwing open the door, he boomed, “Whose shoes are these?”
(To be continued…)

This dress belongs to Perdita, the oldest at twenty-five. She’s the cleverest of all the princesses and the best at chess. She’s very close to Camellia, the next eldest of the princesses, but all of the girls look up to her and respect her. A placid woman, she usually accepts her father’s ideas and orders, and enjoys her life in the castle, where she can practice chess and write stories (in secret) to her heart’s content. But she’s only placid as long as she’s content, and if she feels put-upon and frustrated she can be hard to deal with. She loves the color red and roses of every color.

Halloween Costume Series Day 5: Green Princess Gown with Pink Rose Trim and Gold Lace

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So what if “princess” is possibly the least imaginative costume for anyone past second grade? It’s pretty, and if there’s anything I like in this world it is pretty dresses. I believe, now, that I may be the foremost non-Disney expert on what makes a dress princess-worthy, for these are the kinds of things one thinks about when one draws lots of paper dolls.

I don’t know much about the owner of this dress except that she does like her roses, and I would be surprised if she cultivates them herself as the owner of this pink princess gown does. No, this princess is a bit of a terror, and she insisted that her dress should lend her a sort of mature innocence, that it should be both heavy and light, serious and frilly, and highly becoming to her porcelain complexion and rich brown hair. It it is no coincidence that her dressmaker took a very long vacation after its completion. But this, I think, is not the kind of princess to worry too much about the anguish of such people. I for one hope the dressmaker got far enough away not to hear about the princess saying, at her next ball, “Oh, this old thing? You like it? It’s just an old rag I had lying around in my closet.”

The veil should be cut between the gold part and the white fabric, such that the doll’s head can be slipped through and the gold band goes around the forehead while the veil flutters behind.

Take my new poll: