The Regency Wardrobe collection - research & making - Fading Glory

This post includes mainly working pictures which I hope will be interesting to see and which are intended to show what types of paper and processes I used in order to construct 'Fading Glory', the Regency Wardrobe ball gown.

As regards my research for this piece, as was the case for each piece in this collection, it involved a lot of looking at pictures. I have tried to include an accurate range of images, in order to give an idea of the journey my thinking and looking went through, as regards making the style, colour and decoration choices I did.


Queen Charlotte, the Prince Regent's mother, was still presiding over royal drawing rooms in which court fashion and court dresses were elaborate and large even while the silhouette outside of court was slimming right down. Please see:

For more images please click right

I looked at many dresses with trains during my research for this piece. I knew this gown was to be the centre piece of The Regency Wardrobe collection and I wanted it to make an impact. So it seemed right to look to court dress. As I decided on the subject matter for it's decoration, and that of the chalked floor that would eventually lie beneath it, the belief that it should be a style that had a train became a conviction.

That the lady who might have worn this piece must be presumed rich was a given but that she would stand atop (and seem therefore to be pulling the train of her dress through) imagery that hinted, at least, at the muddy complicated elements of poverty and war was equally certain in my mind.

Outside of the court evening wear was following general trends, so skirts had slimmed:

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

"By 1810, brightly coloured and embroidered silks were as popular as white cotton and muslin for women's evening dresses. John Heathcote's bobbinet machine, patented in 1809, enabled fine net to be easily produced in wide widths for dresses, which could be hand-embroidered to achieve individual and attractive effects. Net dresses were worn with underdresses of plain silk, sometimes white, or in a matching colour."


It may seem that red was simply an obvious colour for me to choose for this piece, 'Fading Glory,' because of the associations I intended with imagery linked to warfare. However red also fitted perfectly as a contract to the black and white of all the other dresses in The Regency Wardrobe collection and would be, I knew, complimentary of the blue and/or scarlet of the men's uniforms I was also intending to make. Often it is sheer white fabric and whitework embroidery that comes to mind when dresses from this period are thought of and reproduced so I was heartened to find so many red examples. But there was also another reason which I will come to in a moment.

As I looked at more and more examples of dresses from this period I noted aspects of the decorative detailing that I liked and wanted to integrate, this certainly included reference to the open robe efffect, common during earlier decades and not lost in the early 1800's.

"...the 'open robe', seen in Sense & Sensibility and commonly referred to as The Picnic Dress. I've seen dressmakers call this as a half-robe, however Norah Waugh in 'The Cut of Women's Clothes' refers to it as an open gown..."

- Pinterest

And again here is an image, this time of the Empress Josephine wearing an open robe creation at her coronation in 1806:

For an example of another from England please see: