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Picturing a World

Glamorous Noël

I came across Around the Christmas Tree when it turned up as a jigsaw puzzle among the activities in Jacquie Lawson's deliciously sentimental Advent Calendar. It's from the French fashion magazine, Art, Goût, Beauté, which was published in Paris from 1920 to 1933. In handsome, hand-colored, stencil images, the magazine illustrated designs by such couturiers as Jean Patou and Paul Poiret. I couldn't find the 1923 issue on line, but you can see the December 1922 issue in full here.

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Medieval Spanish veil

Blog post alert: This image of a woman in a transparent veil in Alfonso X's Book of Games sent me searching for information about sheer fabrics in the Middle Ages. Imagine my delight at finding this very woman and my two earlier two chess-playing queens in a post on Two Spanish 13th century outfits. Eva, the blogger, even recreated the embroidery on the sleeves. Check out her very informative website, Eva's historical costuming blog.

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Fashion 1908

Blog post alert: The 1908 Project is a portal into the high fashion of Mattie Palmer's year. And anyone interested in vintage clothing, sewing patterns, and instructional videos should check it out the entire Wearing History website. See also Gail Brinson Ivey's 1908 Ladies Clothing Fashions–Part 1 and 1908 Ladies Clothing Fashions– Part 2 as well.
Image via Period Paper.

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Renaissance girls get educated

Blog post alert: Picturing Children's Food in Early Modern Europe at the Folger Shakespeare Library's website contains an image pertinent to my earlier query about illustrations of girl's education. This is late Renaissance, not late medieval, but still full of details about clothes and activities for historical-fiction writers to mine. Image via the Metropolitan Museum.

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Queen Elizabeth I and a book

Blog post alert: Isn't this a great portrait of the princess who would become Queen Elizabeth? I love the jewelry, the damask, the gold braid, her natural coloring (no white lead paint!), and especially her holding her place in a book with a finger. Of course, it's posed; but in a story, that last touch could be such a good hint in characterizing a particular kind of person when she is interrupted. The image comes from a British Library post, Portraits of Elizabeth I, about a current exhibition.

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Faiyum face

Having finished a rough draft of my time-travel story, I've decided to press on with another idea in a genre new to me, set in a dystopian near future. At this stage, while I'm trying to bring my main characters into focus. Suddenly, in a blog post on a Gold necklace found in Roman baths in Bulgaria, up comes this face, a Faiyum portrait in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

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Fancy pants

There's no real point to this post except to crow over the incredibly fancy costumes depicted in a mid-16th C book of coats of arms. No mere abstract designs, Jakob Koebel's pictures bring Renaissance élan to heraldry. As with Matthäus Schwarz's compilation of his own clothing (published as The First book of Fashion), it's a reminder that men's dress have at times been the object of as much display as any woman's clothing. I'm not sure how to use these images for either historical or fantasy fiction, but it sure was fun flipping through them. (The site is in German, and I haven't mastered it, but you can see thumbnails five at a time as here).

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Costumes for stories

Blog post alert: Sarah's Questions about Costumes and Writing at Gurney Journey is full of suggestions  to aid artists in creating images of clothes, especially for imaginary worlds. Some of the ideas and links can be adopted in making up clothing for characters in fiction.

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Hats and illustrations

Website alert: I happen to be rereading Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones at bedtime. Its heroine, Sophie Hatter, works in her stepmother's millinery shop. Okay, so today something prompted me to check to see whether Jim Kay is working on illustrations for another Harry Potter book. He is, The Order of the Phoenix, as I discovered at the website he shares with his wife Louise Clark. Who, yes! is a hatter. Go take a look her Millinery page if you love hats; they're all as delicious as this one (which is perfect for a Sophie Hatter creation). And if you are curious about Diana Wynne Jones, a Tor essay on where to start reading her books is a good overview.

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Beauty calibrator

Horrors! Steampunk facial recognition? Mannequin mind control? Bizarre external sensory systems? Pursuing Rachel powder a little further, I came across this Max Factor Beauty Calibrator at Cosmetics and skin: "Developed in 1932 it was supposed to measure how far a person's features differed from the 'ideal face.'" Surely, the time has come for it to inspire a sci-fi tale, preferably feminist revenge. Or, oh no, wait, historical fiction?????

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