Monday, August 28, 2017

New Video Detailing the Ritual of Dressing

The Lady Lever Gallery in Liverpool has commissioned a video detailing how well-to-do women dressed in the eighteenth century.  The seven-minute long video produced by Pauline Loven and made by Crow's Eye Productions leaves no one pondering why getting dressed (or undressed) required the help of another person.  To think, it only shows dressing, and not even other daily rituals such as styling hair or cosmetics; it makes me feel much better about how long it takes me to get ready in the morning!



I love this video for its portrayal of a rather mundane activity that is often forgotten about when we look at portraits, such as the Lady Lever Gallery's own Mrs Peter Beckford by Joshua Reynolds. My one critique is that as the narrator begins talking about pockets, the model is handed what looks like a giant popsicle stick and slips it down her stays between her breasts.  Quite a loud omission in my humble opinion!  The item in question is a busk, which added additional structure to the stays.  According to dress historian extraordinaire, Elisabeth Gernerd, they were often decorated with love poems due to being 'worn next to the heart' (I may or may not have questioned her anatomical accuracy was when she told me that).  Busks aside, this is a fantastic video to provide you with a better idea of just how intensive and time-consuming it was for privileged women to dress every day.




6 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing the video. I costumed and produced the film which was made by Crow's Eye Productions for Lady Lever Art Gallery. We didn't do the VO though. I have addressed the omission in my blog: http://www.periodcostume.co.uk/getting-dressed-in-the-18th-century/

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    1. Thanks for letting me know, I'll update my post so that you're properly credited!

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  2. I loved the video. My only critique (besides the busk being left out), as someone who has dressed this period, earlier than this period, and later than this period is that 1) it did not take them that long to get dressed. They went agonizingly slow. I also didn't appreciate the Slate article where I first saw this because they made it sound like the process of dressing was "exhausting." As I shared in other places where people were complaining that corsets were torture, and agreeing that it must be exhausting, it's really no different than today. We wear things for fashion and their outfit was built around their foundation (their corset). I liken it to us cramming ourselves into Spanx nowadays. Frankly, Spanx are more torture to me than a well made, properly fit to me corset. I'd take a corset any day of the week.

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    1. That's the abovementioned Elisabeth's big complaint too. Stays were custom-made so they were a lot more comfortable than...probably the bra I'm wearing now!

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