Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough, née Vanderbilt

One of the last places my London program visited last spring was Blenheim Palace, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough. We had a tour and our guide told us about Consuelo Vanderbilt, wife of the 9th Duke. This portrait is in Blenheim and we were told it was commissioned as sort of bait for the aristocracy. She married the Duke when she was 18 and had two sons.

Isn't she gorgeous? I've been fascinated with her since I heard about her at Blenheim. Her mother arranged her marriage to the Duke, making her one of many (one source says 200) Anglo-American marriages during the Edwardian period that combined American money with English titles.

Winston Churchill's American mother was another such American heiress that married Consuelo's husband's uncle, making Churchill and Consuelo cousins by marriage. I LOVE this photo because it's so casual and I can't get enough of young Churchill, so great!

Consuelo and her husband didn't love each other, so after giving the duke an heir and a spare they separated in 1906 and were divorced in 1920. Her money helped restored Blenheim, and she dedicated herself to charitable work in London.

Awesome book you should read: High Society: Photographs 1897-1914 by Terence Pepper with 107 society photographs, including excellent captions.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I recently watched Angel on Netflix instant play starring Romola Garai and Michael Fassbender. I don't want to spend too much time on the film bc I didn't like it much. I can appreciate melodrama as a genre, but those who say that this movie is a melodrama satire don't explain away all the issues I had with this one. Basically Garai plays an obnoxious but gifted Edwardian writer who marries the love of her life (Fassbender) which leads to her ruin. I say Edwardian, but Angel's character's costumes are all over the place from the 1870s to never really much later than the turn of the century although the other character's fashions progress. I don't really take issue with this. As you can see above, my favorite dress, while out of period, is absolutely spectacular. If you watch the scenes with this dress, and then later with this red one you've pretty much seen what's worth seeing in the movie, unless you have a thing for self destructive behavior, or Michael Fassbender. Also, mild adult content. Also Sam Neill. Also, they should have died Garai's eyebrows darker, super annoying.

1958 McCall's: Not feelin' it

This is as far as I got on my dress in Nebraska. I also started putting the skirt lining together. I forgot about the need for an opening for the zipper and french seamed the skirt closed. I stopped after this discovery last night and woke up in the middle of the night to think about a solution (which is probably recutting it). I'm still excited for the dress, but am worried about the fit over the hips even though I spliced the pattern with my skirt sloper. I just have huge angular hips. I'm anticipating it being too small over the hips, aaaaaaaand it might only be a fast Sunday dress because the waist is my size when I wake up in the morning, not after any kind of meal.

So I got the bodice finished. I'm not happy with the yoke, and it's a lot fuller than the pattern makes it look, but here's hoping it works with the nipped in waist. The fabric frays like a mother and drives me nuts. I'm pretty over this dress right now which is super disappointing because I was so excited about it. BUT I don't believe in half finished projects cluttering up my life so I'll have it done before I go back to Cedar City, I promise! As for what to wear to church, I'll probs default to my 1940s summer dress with the incorrect shoulder alteration that chokes me but makes me look oh so slim and cute. Someday I will make a knockout perfect dress...someday.