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Wallflower

The inspiration and concept behind the design: "From the 1820s the shoulder line of the bodice widened and puffed sleeves gave a broad shape to the top of the body which was balanced by a full skirt at its base...Sleeves which were short and puffed became more enlarged toward 1829 when they were cut in a circular shape and sometimes kept distended with whalebones." - The Regency Costume Reference 5 by Marion Sichel

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The decoration: The working title of this piece was 'the saloon dress'. Restoration of the Saloon, known until 1801 as the Drawing Room, in the Royal Pavilion began because of water damage early in the new millenium and looked to recreate the orginal interior design of Robert Jones, 'the chief artist of the Palace' in 1823.

 

Look up, to just beneath the ceiling, in the Banqueting Room at the Royal Pavilion and you will see a "brown and gold canopy" strewn with "fabulous beasts" and "Masonic symbols." - The Royal Pavilion Brighton guide  This creature (seemingly part feathered dragon, part phoenix) is particularly impressive. Photo taken with special permission by Ray Sullivan

It was reading this and seeing images such as those shown below, with larger puffed sleeves, that gave me the confidence to go out and then up with the sleeves of Wallflower. You can see here a sketch from The Regency Costume, the high sleeve design, which I simply turned side on, of a spencer held at Chertsey Museum and the puffed short sleeves of a dress in the V&A.

The skirt of Wallflower is not quite as wide as I might have made it, in order to reflect the fashion of the late1820s, likewise the sleeves, but I was making this dress with Lady Grace Gore in mind. Please click here to read more about her. She was to be the matriarch of the gathering I was imagining having happened prior to the 1831 Ball at the Royal Pavilion for five ladies attributed to my five black silhouette dresses. Grace would have been 59 in1831. I wanted to design her a dress that was sufficiently grand and yet proper.

Grace's necklace is made from paper quilling

The designs on the room's heavy red and gold silk, even the shape of the tassles on the curtains gave me the shapes and patterns I needed for the decoration on this dress. You can see working pictures here. Please scroll right and left or click on an image