Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Napoleon: Power and Splendor

These are trying times. The Deckard coat collar is too small and needs to come off. The prosthetic side burns failed miserably. There are two weeks left to finish some 1830's trousers. Solution: road trip. Kitty and his Drunkenness spent the weekend in Richmond, with Saturday devoted to the fabulous exhibit at the VMFA. I can't say enough good things about the museum or the exhibit. It is what history museums should be. No detail was too small: the walls are etched with French Imperial motifs, wind-tossed trees are projected around hunting displays, large gold objects get blue gel filters to make them even more magnificent. The exhibit focuses on the household rather than the man. The food and cocktails at the restaurant are also sublime.

Equally pleasing was being reunited with the Regency Society of Virginia. They took most of these photos, arranged the outing in costume, and are always welcoming. The meta aspects of touring a museum in clothing worn by America's earliest tourists gratified us. As did the obvious military influence on our fashion reflected in the paintings. Kitty's hussar waistcoat and my cossack trousers and chapeau are late 18th to early 19th century cargo pants and camo. The nostalgia of dressing up for an outing was a bonus.

The emotional aspects and the interactions with the public are unique to this outing. The time period allows for expanded roles: sketching parties, collecting insects and plants for study, recreating leisure time with leisure time.

Napoleon is on exhibit in Richmond till September 3rd, 2018. See it if you can. Make sure to call and ask if you want to attend dressed up.

The only way to exceed the ridiculousness of 1820's clothing is to venture later into adolescent America. A battle reenactment of a battle reenactment. See you in the 1830s. Hoping the skunks stay away.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

High Life under the stairs

It's been awhile. Kitty and I have been engaged in long discussions about time drag and what we want to do in the future. The amount of misogyny and prejudice in certain time periods is depressing. Guns are nice, but I'm having a hard time getting excited about recreating conflict and nothing else.

Deckard's rain coat is a welcome distraction. Kitty's Bernina sewing machine is a joy to use, even for button holes. Collar quilting became swift and actually presentable. Can't wait for the first rain storm after it's finished.

July 2nd, 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga: Always count on these folks to create a rich 18th-century environment of all classes. Their latest event included a servantpalooza of sorts. The New Englanders that made up the Rear Guard included a dozen officers. There was not quite enough help for all of them, and some had never taken on the role of servant before, but it went surprisingly well.

Kitty was tasked with feeding the servants (the officers had their own cook.) Since we were not paid, she broke into the Officer of the Day's quarters and stole from the Army payroll. There was a pleasant tension between the camp followers and the servants. If done correctly, serving is hard work. Lots of stairs between kitchen and quarters. What happens when your captain is late to a meal and the lieutenant asks you to do some sewing for him? Cleaning and polishing shoes in the dark is tedious. Without an actual economy it's hard to do things like laundry and gambling. It's also hard for 21st-century Americans to stop saying "please" and "thank you" to those below them. Maybe they were never good at it.

The right tools help. At left are the contents of a simple American servant's wallet. Clockwise, from lower left: Napkins, a rag and tin cup, "The American Crisis," wads of tow, shoe cleaning and blacking brushes, a linen cap, brick dust, a sewing kit and white ball, an oil bottle, comb, and dish washing brush, a pipe, button stick, and black ball. Not pictured: a clothes brush, apron, and a nice bottle of port stolen by the colonel's servants. This just in: prosthetic muttonchops have been delivered via post. More on that later.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018


A quick Preenacting update. Detective Deckard's coat is a strange one. Aside from the color choice, external pockets and cuffs, the outer sleeve is actually part of the back shoulder yoke. The shoulder pads improve the shape, but there is no seam there.

The yoke is also padded, and there is only one button. The shirts from this film are pretty garish, and complicated. Fortunately, the cosplay crowd gets support from some excellent vendors. Need a Skyfall suit? These folks have that and more. It's not cheap, but all clothes are made to measure. Very nice stuff.

Magnoli carries two Blade Runner 2019 shirts, both bonkers. Also two tie designs. The black shirt could use some toning down, and what better way than with Japanese dye pens. A touch of gray over the white makes a big difference at a distance. Mind you, we can't color over the pink top stitching. It's like a coloring book, a terrible one.

After a bunch of screen shots from the movie, it should be possible to make two complete outfits using the coat and trench coat. The shoes are still available. Magnoli makes sweet tweed trousers. Deckard's wrist watch is a 1970s Intel Microma that cost $200 new. The original black watches now sell for between $1,000 and $2,000 (!!!??) on Ebay. Much easier to get a steel three-button model and paint it.

For the history-minded among you beginning to despair, fear not. Kitty got us something really cool for Birthday. If you need a Federal hat (or other 17th, 18th, or 19th century one) Matt Brenckle is your man. Most of the Drunk hats were made by him.

This tasteful, understated chapeau bras is for civilians. The pantaloons cry out to be finished. Braces, a new tail coat and waist coat will also be required.