Exhibit Photos

I was lucky enough to see this costume in person in Palm Beach at the Society of the Four Arts. Though I wasn't allowed to take photos, I was able to stick my nose right up to the costume. I'm posting my notes here and exhbit photos to illustrate my observations.

  • Exhibit Photos

  • Arwen Mourning gown bullion trim page - this may help with understanding what bullion is.

    Wings and Support

    The gown is sewn shut in the back - there are no laces or snaps or anything of the sort. Here is Freya's exhibit pic (left), and Kasey's (right).

    The sign said the gown had an undercorset made to support the wings.

    You can just see it peak out in Jamie's (left) and Lecourtisane's pics (right).

    In one of Freya's shots, you can see a bit of the corset, and that there is a hook and eye holding it in place!

    While I'm sure the metal struts were heavy, the wings themselves were light as air! The breeze from the airconditioner was making them sway a bit, and Ferd blew lightly on them and they moved!

    The wings were netting (not nylon like pantyhose, but almost like tulle) and the edges of it must have been stiffened somehow, because the netting looked like the edges were simply stitched to the metal frame, and I don't know how it didn't just rip! The "vertical" edge only (not the top or bottom) was painted gold! The wing had wire running from to each point of the wing, like veins, and there were three slightly thinner support wires running through the wings as well.

    Below is my sketch and two of Kasey's exhibit pics:


    We figured out that the reason the bodice color never matches the underskirt is because the bodice has an overlay! It looks very much like the sheer stuff used on the overskirt, but ironed out so not much of a crinkle remains! You can see how shimmery it is in Freya's exhibit pic (left), and in Kasey's exhibit pic (right).

    The side seams of the bodice appeared to have two rows of top stitching.

    The bodice is also beaded with tiny pearls and seed beads. They are in clusters of either 5 pearls with a seed bead in the center, or reversed with 5 seed beads with a pearl in the center. Some of them go slightly off the edge of the bodice. I sketched the approximate placement of the clusters. P is for a Pearl cluster with seed bead center, D is for seed bead cluster with pearl center. At the bottom of the bodice, the clusters were partial and I noted whether it was a D or a P, and how many beads there were. I only got the back right side because I couldn't see the other side well.

    Lecourtisane has confirmed that the bodice beading is pearls and seed beads, not pearls and rhinestones. She says they have a metallic luster/sheen so that they sparkle like rhinestones, but they are definitely not rhinestones.

    You can see the beading very well in Freya's pics:

    And in Kasey's:

    Here are my sketches:

    At the waist line are two rows of trim - the top is a silver guimp trim with a ribbon running through it. The bottom row is pearls which look like they are sewn on individually. They are slightly more silvery in color than the ones sewn onto the bodice. On the right side (if you are looking at the gown) the nacre has worn off some the pearls!

    We now have several excellent photos of the bodice, and all its trim!

    Here are some of Freya's:

    And Kasey's:

    I've labeled one of Freya's pics with my observations. The center of the bodice is a V of what appears to be gold antique lace. It didn't appear to have anything under it, as we could see the muslin of the dress form through it. Over this gold lace are bullion appliques and embroidered appliques. The leaves in the center seem to be embroidered, with small long oval mirrors in pronged settings sewn in the centers. Mixed in with these were 4 slug shaped bullion appliques. The "slugs" had alternating rough and smooth purls in them. There are other silver teardrop shapes that appear to be embroidered. At the base of the V is a round rhinestone with a pronged setting, and rough check bullion sewn around it in a woven pattern. Then below that, is a piece of the flowered bullion trim, centering a flower there. The skirt trim flows down from that.

    The trim right at the neck appears to be antique scalloped lace with a frayed edge, with metal tinsel in it. On closer look, the lace has flower petals that look very much like the ones on the lower sleeve, just peeking over the top. I believe they cutout the flowers from this antique lace and appliqued it onto the lower sleeves. Compare below:

    Sleeve (right), lace at neck (left). Both crops from Freya's pics.

    These flowers are sewn from metallic tinsel of some sort and the petals alternate the thickness and smoothness of the tinsel. But the neckline flowers matched the lower sleeve ones!

    Also, in the back of the gown, you can see more of this antique trim peeking out, and I see more bullion, and pearls!

    Lining either side is a heavy bullion trim of 6 petaled flowers and leaves on top of a thick line of bullion, much like the edge of the Arwen mourning gown trim. This trim is used on either side of the front bodice V, down each side of the over skirt in the front, and down the back seams of the back of the bodice.


    Starting with the upper sleeve. Here are some really good pictures, taken by Freya. There are plenty of others here.

    The upper sleeve starts at the shoulder with a puff of metallic crinkle organza. Then the upper sleeve gauntlet, which is tied with silver cord to the shoulder. Likely the metallic organza is just a puff, and not a full sleeve. It probably is sewn into th etop of the gauntlet. The top of the gauntlet has lace trim that has white irridescent rocaille beads sewn to it, and faceded silver beads. The organza peaks through. Then a row of flat silver trim, and a row of flat gold trim. Then more lace trim, like that used on the lower sleeve - with the sequin/pearl in the center of each circle in the lace, and the pearl/bead trim hanging from it.

    The upper arm "band" is more mesh - it has bullion in a circular vine pattern appliqued to it.

    At the base of the arm band is more of the flowered bullion trim used on the bodice and skirt. This tops the lower puff of crinkled metallic organza.

    Here are three of Kasey's closeups:

    Moving down, we continue with the lower sleeves. Here are some really good pictures, taken by Freya:

    At the top of the lower skeeve, below the organza puff, are two rows of trim, and hanging from them are more pearl/sead beads. The lower of the trim is a lace with a round pattern and at the center of each circle in the trim is a sequin with a seed bead. Above that is a silver guimp trim with a circular pattern to it. It's probably the same trim that is used on the waist. Above that it connects to a puff of the crinkled metallic organza. Right above the seam are 3 tiny oval pearls each surrounded by a long rough check bullion purl.

    The lower sleeve itself is a mesh, like power netting that is sort of a pale off-white nude color. The gold flowers are actually appliqued to it! The bigger flowers tended to have 11 petals of varying texture and the smaller ones had 8. At the center of each flower is a sequin with a bead in the center.There are tiny sequins with a seed bead at the center spread throughout the lower sleeve.

    The sleeve cuffs had pearl drops consisting of 3 seed beads, 1 pearl, and one seed bead. The left sleeve (if you are looking at the gown) had 19 pearl drops, and the right sleeve had 17. The seed beeds looked pale gold in color. They probably match the ones sewn on the bodice. The cuff was also edged with gold lace which appeared to me to match the gold lace used on the V on the bodice. Over the gold lace are 6 sequins with a seed bead in the center, sewn on in a pyramid pattern. At far left is Freya's pic. At near left is Kasey's.

    The sleeve is slit from the cuff (so you can get your arm in) and there are 10 tiny pearls lining the slit, like fake buttons. The slit really closes with hooks and eyes. At far left is Freya's pic. At near left is Kasey's.

    The Skirts

    The underskirt is silk satin and looks to me like it might be bias cut. We could see a diagonal seam at the hem! You can see it in this crop of one of Anomilygrace's photos.

    The hem itself is unique because it has 5 rows of something like french knots.

    The overskirt is unusal - it is made from two different fabrics. One is a metallic crinkle pretty much identical to the Thai Silks stuff in ivory/silver used on Arwen's chase sleeves and the Angel dress. The other is a similar fabric only a slightly different shade of silver, and it's chain stitch embroidered in silver with tiny pearls. I sketched the pattern. You can see it pretty clearly in Freya's exhibit photos

    If you were to replicate this and didn't want to embroidery, I think you could probably replicate it with fabric paint and use that applique glue (Alene's?) to glue the pearls on. I used it to glue the sequins on my picnic gown and that stuff is very strong.

    The overskirt is formed from panels of these two fabrics that are actually just serged together at the raw edges and then pleated such that it looks like there are two overskirts!

    The very center front of the gown is split and the center left and center right panels are the embroidered metallic crinkle (EC). There are 3 pleats on each side. These panels are each sewn to a non-embroidered crinkle (NEC). Then at each side an EC. The way these are attached to the bodice, the NEC panel is pleated under so at the waistline, the edges of the EC panels are touching and the NEC panel is almost like a gore. Next comes another NEC. Then left and right back panels of EC. Then a center back panel of NEC, which was actually done almost like a gore.

    Since Drew was sewn into the dress, it looks like it was split down the back and where the split ends, the back gore of the NEC begins.

    So there are 3 embroidered crinkle panels on each side of the dress, 2 non-embroidered crinkle panels on each side of the dress, and a back gore of the non-embroidered crinkle.

    Here are some photos and sketches to demonstrate. I traced out where the edges are serged on these two. You can also see how the panels are pleated so that the NEC panels are under the EC ones.


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