The Duchess

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2 years ago
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2 years ago
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The Victoria and Albert museum- Wedding Dress Exhibition
My most recent trip to the V and A was to visit the Wedding Dress exhibition. It held a whole host of wedding dresses dating from as early as 1775, here is the link to the official site: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/wedding-dress-1775-2014/ . This exhibition covers a whole host of interests, from historical costume to current fashion designers such as Viviane Westward, John Galliano and Vera Wang. What’s wonderful about this exhibition is the descriptions given with the garments, these small snippets of information are filled with useful details. Such as, the gradual change to wearing a white gown, and how the orange blossom became tradition for brides to wear during the Victorian era.
In terms of my research it was interesting to see the reality of what brides where wearing during this period, I was shocked by how early white was becoming the colour of favour. White was up and coming and very expensive, this was a period before beaching techniques were established, therefore, both achieving and maintaining the colour white was still only set aside for the prosperous. An idea used some many years later by no other than the great Queen Victoria for her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840.
Considering only affluent and fashionable characters were likely to commission a white gown, I think white is a strong contender for Georgiana’s wedding dress. Georgiana would have taken keenly to such a display of fashion on her wedding day. It is important to remember, however, although white was becoming more popular, some of the most commonly used colours during this time were ivory, sand, light blue, blue-grey, silver and pink. All these colours fit perfectly with my colour plate plans, the pale nature of these colours would still require the same amount of attention as white in terms of maintenance, and therefore would make a satisfactory alternative.
This is a must see exhibition as it’s full of glamour and history I’d implore anyone with an interest to visit the exhibition. It’s cheap to visit especially for students, costing me only 8 pounds! However, no photos or sketches can be taken unfortunately, so do take extra money for a leaflet or the book!

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2 years ago
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Versailles
I was lucky enough to take a trip to Paris in the course of the holidays, during which I went to the magnificent Versailles. This palace has to be one of the most spectacular visits I’ve ever been on! The Rococo and late Baroque style been one of my favourite movements, meant I was in ore throughout the entirety of the trip. The architecture was simply magnificent, its grandeur and ostentation a clear symbol of the Kings absolute power. The Hall of Mirrors was breath taking, the elegance of the chandeliers a perfect depiction of 18th century wealth, gold trimming add to the finesse of the hall. The Queens apartments have been decorated to replicate Marie Antoinette’s bed chambers, it was scrumptious and fussy... but I loved it... her room was the embalmed to everything I’ve envisioned for Georgiana. The concept of sugar on sugar, details on top of details will be the driving force for my design. Let hope this reflects in what I produce!

2 years ago
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2 years ago
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Here is Marie Antoinette’s room, where I will be drawing my colour pallet from; the Rococo pallet is ridiculous in reflection of the themes within the film such as, betrayal and violence. The juxtaposition of light-hearted colours against malicious themes is full of irony, it’s a reflection of idolism as opposed reality during the eighteen century. We romanticize over the gowns and the flamboyancy but the truth is cruel and far from the fairytale visage presented to us.
Versailles has sooooooo much to discuss but I’m afraid I’d never stop once started! So here is a link to the official site... http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover-estate although the website has some beautiful images it’s difficult to truly capture the majesty of the palace!
Although not directly linked with this project, Marie Antoinette estate within the grounds of Versailles is breathtaking; the history behind this world makes a thoroughly interesting read! Please if you’ve the time look at her sanctuary on the link above. Within her estate was Petit Trianon, the Queen’s Gardens, and her Hamlet; these collectively were her safe haven from the spectacle of court etiquette at Versailles. To this day the atmosphere is idyllic and tranquil. Although a million miles from the magnificence of Versailles, Antoinette’s estate is magical within its own right. If after looking at the domain you’re as enthralled as I am, Stefan Zweig biography of the Queen makes an excellent and well informed read!

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2 years ago
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The Louvre
Whilst in Paris I visited the Louvre, it might come as a shock but the exhibitions at the Louvre far exceeded anything I’d ever seen, even at Versailles! The furniture and art were so well preserved, everything was pristine and as though I’d stepped through a time capsule. Yes Versailles was magnificent but parts were rather shabby, I was shocked at the conditions, particularly of the first rooms you viewed. Were as, the Louvre only displayed its best preserved ornaments and lavish furniture, making the finery of eighteenth century gentry easy to envision. Everything was polished and proper, in particular was Napoleon III apartments an exception portrayal of Rococo interiors. This is an environment I can easily imagine Georgiana been surrounded by.
Not forgetting that this accomplished museum had been the Kings residence, from the 12th century till 1674 when King Louis XIV moved to Versailles. Because of this the building itself is rich with fabulous displays of architecture, every crevice full of pattern which could be easily translated into prints or embroidery for my designs. The hall holding the crown jewels is a manifestation of pattern and decorative ideas, a designer’s haven! Not that this takes away from the dazzling jewellery within the room itself, these few jewels epitomise the prosperity of the time. If I could replicate even a glimpse of the glamour they radiate, my designs my well live up to the fashion ester and celebrity Georgiana was.
A note to anyone planning a trip to Paris and the Louvre, please get an audio as a lot of the displays don’t have an English translation!!!!!!!!! I later had to research the origin of many pieces id photographed whilst there, something I find acutely disappointing when in the moment admiring a piece of art.
Chatsworth
I realise you also cannot be ignorant of other interpretations of Georgiana, and so with this in mind I’ve visited Chatsworth, which was one of the locations where the Duchess was filmed. Chatsworth has also been the home of 16 generations of the Cavendish family and where Georgiana sort solitude for several years following her exile. In the film we first see Georgiana in the grandeur of Chatsworth at her wedding ceremony in the Painted Hall, as she descends down the grand staircase to be married off on her seventeenth birthday; the scene is minimally lit by candle light. This lighting could be conscious decision as it allows the costumes to shine... literally! The jewels and the metallic threads on Keira Knightlys dress shimmer in the low light, a concept used for Princess charlottes wedding dress in 1816 (and as discussed in my Pride and Prejudice tackk). Yet candle or mood lighting could instead be a reflection of the desolate and hostel ambience to follow in the rest of the film, and subsequently Georgiana’s turbulent marriage to the Duke.
Notwithstanding, the Painted Hall is an exquisite location for this scene to be shot in; with its blooming colours, marble black and white flooring, and its powerful ceiling paintings depicting the ascension of Julius Caesar. It’s a vivid display of wealth, largely presented (in my opinion) by the rich colours and sheer scale of the room. Although quite different to how the hall would have been during Georgiana’s life time, it’s still a spectacle to behold and I believe the most impressive room in the House.
So, in its original form the great stairs came down at either side of the hall in a horse shoe like shape with a continuous balcony circulating around the room, therefore although the Hall in its current condition is majestic, a double staircase surely could only have taken one of Georgiana’s entrances to the next level.
The exterior of the building is just as imposing as the interiors, from the ornate water fountains to the glistening gold leaf window frames; which recently put the Cavendish family back 16 million in repairs, a part of this was adorning the south front in more gold leaf but boy was it worth it! The building glistens again with wealth reflecting the opulence within. A sweeping pathway leads to the stately home, taking you through beautiful landscaping; the sheer scale of Chatsworth grounds makes the ultimate crescendo to the magnificent 16th century building.
But what will I take from this experience? Well there’s the majestic Gainsborough painting of the Duchess at Chatsworth painted between1785-1787. In my opinion, this is the most well know painting of Georgiana, and is very informative in terms of how the Duchess was perceived. Here she looks sensuously fashionable with her hugely oversize hat, and the magnificent hair which she’s so greatly known for. Her dress looks rich in fine laces but is already beginning to adorn a more naturalistic form, with a neoclassic soft line and drapery. She also holds a rose which could be portrayal of her gentle and nurturing disposition. Likewise the rose could simply be an idealistic pose as a similar paint was commissioned by French Queen Marie Antoinette some two years previously in 1783. This idea doesn’t take from Georgiana’s character, rather it reinforces Georgiana’s impeccable taste, moving with the times she’s taking note of fashionable poses and painting styles. After all Marie Antoinette was the pinnacle of fashion during the late 18th century. This painting gives a great sense of character and fashion, to create an accurate depiction of Georgiana these ideals need to go hand in hand.
From Chatsworth’s as a whole I’ll enforce the majesty and stateliness of the manner house within my design, after all this was one of Georgiana’s homes. The building is sumptuous within its own rights, but by no means was Georgiana lost in its splendour! This is something I must be conscience of whilst designing. Note to self: Chatsworth is full of rich colours, my colourful Rococo interpretation of the Duchess will mean ill have to carefully consider my locations so there isn’t a clash in colour palates.

2 years ago
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The Victoria and Albert Museum- Hollywood Costume Exhibition
Whilst on the subject of other interpretations, there was a superb exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum... Hollywood Costume, this was 100% the best exhibition I’ve ever seen! I went three times! Now although this is no longer a running exhibition the book is lucky still available and well worth a purchase. I understand this is depending on your budget, still there is still plenty of information online, especially on the Victoria and Albert website just visit the following link: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-hollywood-costume/about-the-exhibition/ trust me however you view the exhibition you won’t be disappointed. Its absolutely bursting with awe inspiring costumes covering a vast range of costuming methods, genres and styling.
The reason I’m mentioning this within this tackk is the amazing display if Marie Antoinette’s costumes from the film Marie Antoinette. There simply exquisite! I was in awe of them! Here is an image of the costumes, just by seeing this image I hope my direction becomes clearer.

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2 years ago
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2 years ago
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Referring back I realise I've not made a link to Chatsworth so please visit the sight! It's well worth a gander! .... http://www.chatsworth.org/

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2 years ago
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