Title: Fading Glory
Collection: The Regency Wardrobe
Garment: early 19th century woman’s Ball gown
Materials: Quilling paper strips, FSC accredited paper tablecloth, tissue paper, rice paper, Japanese rice paper Mizuhiki chord, embroidery thread
This piece reflects the elegance, opulence and warfare of the Regency era and the resulting impact both on society and fashion. During this pivotal moment in history the British empire was set on course to become the largest empire of all time but through hidden detailing this dress also hints at the fall-out, the undercurrent of misery and poverty, that resulted from the fighting that was taking place. There are two rows of embroidered teeth down the centre of the train to represent the teeth that were taken from the bodies of fallen soldiers at Waterloo and used to make sets of false teeth for the rich.
Fading Glory is inspired by: a Russian court dress from 1820; a cloak made for a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath; a late 18th c. English sampler held by the V&A showing the hemispheres of the globe; the idea of taking the King’s shilling. The decoration is informed by the outline shapes of the Garter Star, the Civil Knight Grand Cross Star of The Order of the Bath and the Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order.
This piece is, however, made of non-colour fast paper. The brilliant red of this gown will fade over time. This is to reflect the fact that people and events fade from our collective memory, the power of every dominant human Empire has faded over time and worn garments fade in colour, retaining their true colours only in areas protected from the light of day and observation such as under armpits and beneath hems.
The red, white and gold of this dress represents blood, bandages and money. It also evokes the red jackets with gold embroidered trim worn by the Royal Sussex Regiment whilst fighting in the Napoleonic wars.
*Please note: Part of the concept of The Regency Wardrobe is that the colour of many of the pieces risks fading over time. This is to reflect:
- research done by The House of Embroidered Paper into Regency era garments and the observation that the colures of their surfaces have faded overtime (as evidenced by looking under seams and inside material crevices).
- how historical events and people fade in the collective memory
- how the power and prestige of civilizations and empires fades overtime.
- how the surfaces of most items we find left to us from history have faded.
Areas of this piece therefore risk changing colour/fading over-time. That is, they may effectively, noticeably, age just as we do.