Saturday, November 23, 2013

Portrait of a Lady review

It has been forever since my last post. The holiday season is upon us in the retail world, and it just keeps on getting crazier and crazier with each passing day. My days off have been recently spent traveling and trying to finish some cross stitch projects (more on that in another post), but I did finally get around to watching a costume drama piece that has been on my watch list for forever (not kidding on this one).

The Portrait of a Lady is a film adaptation of the same book, written Henry James, and is directed by one of my favorites, Jane Campion. After waiting nine months (yes, nine) for a copy to come in at the library, I rushed home to watch it, only to be very disappointed.

It's very rare for me not to like a costume drama, and I had high hopes for this one since Campion was directing and it starred Nicole Kidman, who is also one of my favorite actresses. The story itself though was downright dull, none of the characters were likable in the least, and the overall pace was about as fast as my shower drain with a giant hair clog.

While I have not read the original book, I read through the synopsis via Wikipedia and it seemed like a fairly close adaptation of the original content. Supposedly James' story is supposed to examine the themes of "betrayal, personal freedom, and responsibility." About the only the only thing I got out of the 2 hours and 20 minutes I spent watching this film was some finished cross stitch.

And then the costumes. These are the main reason I sometimes watch my costume dramas. Lighting was often so dark it was hard to get a glimpse of what the dresses even looked like, and the few you did see had maybe less than a minute of screen time. For example, the lovely confection on Kidman here:

Was visible only long enough to make me want to know more about it, for the simple reason that I couldn't see enough of it! In my attempts to discover more, I have found there are very few movie stills from the film to be found. Unless of course you're searching for the image where it looks like Kidman is fighting a massive migraine.

Yeah, I would probably look like that too if I had to watch the movie again.

Movie - 1.5 out of 5
Costumes - 3 out of 5

Friday, November 1, 2013

September and October Shopping Finds

It's been a "busy" shopping period, and I'm not just talking about the one we've been having at work. A lot of little things have sort of popped up and I just couldn't resist getting them as well as starting to stockpile a few things for the next costume projects (since I apparently don't have enough already).

To begin I had purchased one of the Windham reproduction fabrics a couple years ago with the intention of making it into a late 1850s/early 1860s dress. When I looked up the pattern requirements, I found 7 yards was - surprisingly - not enough. It has taken almost two years, but I finally found a vendor that I can purchase a few extra yards from and then maybe get cracking on the project next year sometime.

My hope is to have this made to fit my circular hoop skirt, for which I have my own pattern that lives in my brain. The top I want to make into a pagoda sleeve style bodice that was popular during the late 1850s. Right now I'm debating whether or not to use the pattern I already have, the Simplicty costume from the Wisconsin Historical Society (#3727), or Heather's version from Truly Victorian (TV440). I would definitely have to do a few mockups, but right now I'm leaning for the Simplicty pattern.

Simplicity 3727

Truly Victorian TV440

Also added to the fabric stash is a lovely steel gray/blue dupioni silk that my wonderful mom picked up for me at Mood Fabrics in Los Angeles. The fabric actually has more blue in it and looks much better in person.

I already know that I want to use this for an 1890s evening dress, similar to this beautiful specimen designed by Worth.

I already have the patterns for this costume, 1892 Ballgown Bodice (TV490) and 1893 Bell Skirt (TV292), from the Truly Victorian pattern stash. When I pulled the bodice pattern out a few months ago, I started drafting a few changes to the pattern I wanted to make right away, but that's as far as things have gotten.

Onto book finds. I made a couple of trips to some of the local Half Price Books stores in the areas and found some greats books!

The one I'm most excited about is the American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs. This has been on my wish list, but I could never find a copy for a decent price. This one was only $5 and in great condition. Altogether my book haul was only about $35. If you aren't shy about getting used books, I definitely recommend seeing if there is a store near you or buying online. They always have great deals on some hard to find books.

Last but not least - TIARAS! We've had a couple pretty ones come in at work for homecoming season and the upcoming holidays. I took advantage of my employee discount and purchased this one.

Along with a headband that is designed to look like the one Michelle Williams wore in The Great Gatsby. For $10, I don't think it looks too bad. I may head to the fabric store though to see about replacing the elastic band with some satin ribbon so that it ties on.

*          *          *
With payday this week, I finally got around to ordering some corset/boning supplies, so hopefully I'll be able to finish up my new 1870s bustle soon.