Friday, March 25, 2011

Favorite 18th Century movies

Someone asked me yesterday what my favorite 18th century movies are. This is a particularly timely question, as I'm pretty sure I've watched Every Single One that's out on DVD in the last 6 months.

Hand-stitching a set of stays will do that to you. By the way, 5 panels out of 8 finished!!

So, I'm not sure how long this list will end up being, but I'm going for at least top 5 here.

5. John Adams (miniseries). Laura Linney looks SO lovely in her 1790s gowns with the big poofy hair and her rosy cheeks... There's not a lot to love about Paul Giamatti, but I'm pretty sure that sums up John Adams as a character anyway.

4.  The Duchess. Mostly for the scene in which Ralph Fiennes unstitches Keira Knightly's stomacher. Because NO ONE EVER DOES THAT AND IT'S SO DARN ACCURATE!

3. The Madness of King George. Unintentionally hilarious, poignant, the costumes are lovely, and the acting is just FABULOUS.

2. The Patriot. Yes, it's cheesy. The costumes are painfully inaccurate at times. But... Jason Isaacs as a redcoat? SIGN ME UP. The uniforms on the whole look awesome (accurate, I can't speak to, but they're sure pretty) and despite the equally-inaccurate history, I do love me some good old fashioned bayonet and cannon and cavalry warfare.

1. Brotherhood of the Wolf. It's French, it's trashy, there's gore and bad CG and as usual, the bad guy is trying to screw his sister, but it's darn pretty and I can't find a lot to complain about costume-wise outside of the brothel scenes.

Movies that did NOT make this list:

Marie Antoinette - It's like Easter candy. Unnaturally pastel, great in small doses, but don't have too much and don't take it seriously or you'll get sick.

Jefferson in Paris - While, surprisingly, the costumes aren't bad, the acting is horrendous. Come on Thandie Newton, I know you're better than that. Sally Hemings did NOT need to be a caricature of what 19th century slave-owners thought slaves should be.

Dangerous Liaisons - I know, I know, the classic, the standard, etc. The getting dressed sequence is marvelous. But the movie is just So. Darn. Boring. I'll take Cruel Intentions any day, thanks.

Amadeus - I remember watching, and liking this as a child. As an adult and a costumer, I got about halfway through and I had to turn it off. You know, right about the point when the female lead unhooks the front stud busk on her corset (with CUPS) and then removes her bloomers. Yeah. It's That Bad.

King of the Wind - I can't FIND a copy!! It only came out on VHS and darned if I just can't get ahold of it now. So, you know, if any of you out there in blog land know where I can get it, do say something.

The Affair of the Necklace - Because I often make love with my panniers still on. Don't you? Tack on some ridiculously artificially-colored silks and the fact that no one would ever accuse Hilary Swank of great beauty in the 18th century, and you have a travesty of an unwatchable movie. The only bright spot? Joely Richardson's Marie Antoinette and her blithe detachment from reality. And tact.

On that note, it's been a long week, I'm sick to death of WHITE COTTON DRESSES, and I have about 20 different projects incubating for tomorrow. What am I likely to do? Work on my stays. What do I WANT to do? FINISH something.

On the work table right now:

-Spring dresses, including a white knit covered in red lobsters. Schiaparelli much?
-Thesis project - Hand-stitched stays, chemise and cap. Mostly hand-stitched gown and petticoats.
-Frock coat for Other Half
-Fixing the waistbands on my 1870 evening dress, and attaching the lace to the sleeves. Stitching the belt into place so it doesn't look like I tied it while drunk.
-Bustle for under 1870 dress so I can stop tying a pillow to my butt every time I wear it

And still incubating:
-1880s morning ensemble in blue satin and black velvet
-Regency dress using replica cotton that I'm digitizing myself
-18th century gown using Williamsburg cotton I bought last week (that I actually like much better than my Duran Textiles replica print I bought for my thesis, but don't get me started on that.)
-Day bodice and separate peplum for 1870 skirts
-Waist cincher out of Bright Pink cupcake print cotton. Because who DOESN'T need one of those?

It must be spring, I seem to be getting a bit manic...


  1. Finally got a chance to check out your blog. I have to agree on your movie choices. I think the only one I haven't seen is King of the Wind.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more. I'll have to live vicariously through you since I haven't bothered to make anything from this time period since I have no where to wear any of it. Just a sad thing about living in the middle of no where. I'd be all dressed up with no place to go.

  2. Well Natasha, come out here! There are a couple of us working on 18th century stuff and we have no idea where we'll wear it either, but we just had to have it.