CAFTCAD awards

Kenn and I attended the second annual Canadian Alliance of Film and Television Costume Arts and Design (CAFTCAD) awards on Sunday night. We both served on juries to narrow down the entries for nomination. It’s great to see the industry recognize the work of all the various jobs in the costuming field.

Taking home awards for their work included costumers from the productions: Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Murdoch Mysteries, and The Terror. Linda Muir was recognized for her costume design in the film The Lighthouse, and Juul Hallmeyer was honoured with an Industry Icon award for his body of work, which included costuming S.C.T.V. Congratulations to all the CAFTCAD 2020 nominees and winners.

At the reception after the event we managed to take a few shots of some of the more interesting fashions, and also look at a display of costumes done by nominees:

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Catching Flies

I just read an interesting article about beauty marks or patches (called ‘flies’ in French). This is a rough English translation of that article by Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset, international relations historian and project manager at the Cultural Development Department of the Palace of Versailles and president of the ICOM Costume international committee. The full article appears in issue #34 of the journal Château de Versailles (July-Sept. 2019):

Intended to camouflage a facial defect or to accentuate, by contrast, the whiteness of the skin, “flies” were part of the arsenal of seduction in the Great Century, (note: The Great Century refers to the period in France under the reigns of Louis XIV to Louis XVI, c. 1660 – 1790)

At all costs and for all kinds of people, there are ways: “to soften the eyes, to trim the face, to put on the forehead, to place on the breast and, provided that a skillful hand know how to put them to good use, you never put them in vain.” A 1661 poem spoke of the ‘good fly maker’ – The fly was compared to the bee and the face of a woman to a flower on which, like bees, the fly lands. The ‘good fly maker’ makes a point of making the lady irresistible, and the man is bitten.

Flies varied in size or shape and had specific names. “Those cut in length are called assassins”, explained Furetière in his Dictionary of the French language (1690)… Placed near the eye, it is the “passionate”; at the corner of the mouth, the “kisser”; on the lip, the “coquette”; on the nose, the “cheeky”; on the forehead, the “Majestic”; in the middle of the cheek, the “gallant”; in the fold of the cheek when one laughs is called “the playful”; there are also the “discreet”, the “virtuous”, etc.

Their dimensions vary. Long ones are called “ball flies” or “court flies”, because their large size could be seen from a distance and had a better effect in a room lit by candles. Small and “wonderfully flirtatious” flies were worn during the day for parties and were called “alley flies”.

The best flies were cut with sharp dies from a very black taffeta that was well gummed, so that it did not fray and get caught in wrinkles…

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Dressed for the photographer, 1842 – 1851

These stellar photographs were taken by Hermann Carl Eduard Biewend (1814-1888), a chemist, scientist, and amateur photographer in Germany. The photographs he took of his wife and children are remarkable for their warmth and humanity. They are also great shots of fashionable dress. These were shared on The Daguerreian Dandy-Photography of the 19th Century Facebook page.

Helene and friend knitting and sewing while taking tea in the garden, summer 1846
Helene, September 1849
Helene with children, the youngest sleeping, June 22, 1851

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Rossiters of Paignton

I acquired this c. 1955 dress about 15 years ago from a theatre costume department in Toronto. It isn’t in perfect shape but I like the brocade pattern, and the style is classic 50s. The English dress is labelled Rossiters of Paignton, and I found a lot of history about the store.

Opened in 1858 by two seamstress sisters, Jane and Sarah Rossiter, the store in Winner Street was a “general drapery business of well-assorted goods”, according to early advertisements. The shop began to really succeed after the town got a train connection in the late 1860s. Fashionable Victorians were flocking to Paignton as a seaside resort where they believed seawater bathing could cure a variety of ailments.

In 1888 the store moved to Palace Avenue where it expanded into neighbouring shops over the years until it became a department store of men’s, women’s, and children’s fashions. Business for the company began to soften in the 1950s as nearby Plymouth and Exeter were rebuilt after the war with new shopping centres. 

According to an interview with fourth generation Nigel Rossiter in 2009, the store was believed to be an inspiration for writers David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd. They had summered in Paignton the summer of 1971 when they wrote the script for the television series Are You Being Served? which debuted in 1972.

Brands and online shopping took its toll on Rossiters. The final straw was the economic downturn of 2008. After celebrating their sesquicentennial (150th year in business), the shop closed on January 31, 2009.

A view of Rossiters from the 1950s
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Oscar Thoughts 2020

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Syracuse University Collection

What brought me to Syracuse last week was a trip to the university to lecture to the fashion design students about footwear history. I also had the opportunity to see their Sue Ann Genet costume collection, which is amazingly good. I didn’t take any photos in the storerooms, but there were racks and racks of 20th century fashions ranging from Edwardian evening gowns to Bill Blass jackets beaded by Lesage in Paris. Jeffrey Mayer, Professor of Fashion Designer and Curator of the costume collection showed Kenn and I around storage, as well as their exhibition about winter fashion currently on display:

Professors Jeffrey Mayer and Kirsten Shoonmaker with me in their ‘Let it Show’ winter fashion exhibition
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Onondaga Historical Society Museum, Syracuse, NY

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Syracuse where I spoke at the Syracuse University on shoe history, and then saw some amazing costume collections at the University, behind the scenes at the Rochester Museum of Science, and at the Onondaga Historical Society Museum that had an exhibition of Victorian clothes as well as other interesting things on display.

A spectacular Iroquois beaded shirt, 1850s/60s, but difficult to see under the plexi
The Brannock device was invented in Syracuse!
Doll’s Bloomer costume, early 1860s
View of the Victorian clothes on display
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Fashion in Song – Louboutins (2009)

Released as a lead single on Jennifer Lopez’ 7th album in December 2009:

Uh, uh, uh, uh, yeah
Oh, oh, ah-ah-ah, radio killer
Taking back my love (Taking back my love)…

You said you’d change, but still nothing
You’re still the same, I’m just a part-time lover (Lover)
And I’m the blame, should have went away (Away)
But yet I stayed (I stayed), with a part-time lover
See, some days you will love me
Then you don’t, then you do, then you won’t
Then you’re here, then you’re gone, I’m alone
Now you got me stressing out on the phone

But it’s the last time, I’m moving on
I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

I left the state (The state), changed everything
No more 818 (18) for the part-time lover (Lover)
What goes around comes back around
And then you get what you deserve, you part-time lover (Yeah)
See, some days you will love me
Then you don’t, then you do, then you won’t
Then you’re here, then you’re gone, I’m alone
Now you got me stressing out on the phone

But it’s the last time, I’m moving on
I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

Watch these red bottoms and the back of my jeans
Watch me go, bye baby, don’t know what you got until it’s gone
Tail lights is all you’ll see
Watch this Benz exit that driveway

I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

Watch me walk it out, walk it out, walk it out
Walk this right up out the house
Walk it out, boy, watch me walk it out
Uh, walk it out, walk this right up out the house

I’m throwing on my Louboutins (Out the house)…

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Costume Designer’s Guild Awards, 2020

The American Costume Designer’s Guild Awards were held last night and the winners were:

Jojo Rabbit, Mayes C. Rubeo

Knives Out, Jenny Eagan

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Ellen Mirojnick

Schitt’s Creek: “The Dress,” Debra Hanson

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: “It’s Comedy or Cabbage,” Donna Zakowska

Game of Thrones: “The Iron Throne,” Michele Clapton

The Masked Singer: “Season Finale: And the Winner Takes It All and Takes It Off,” Marina Toybina

United Airlines: “Star Wars Wing Walker,” commercial, Christopher Lawrence

Congrats to Canadian Debra Hanson for Schitt’s Creek!

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Fashion in Song – Wenn die Elisabeth (1930)

This German song Wenn die Elisabeth is about Elizabeth, who loses her advantage of having great legs in the longer skirt styles of 1930. A second paragraph refers to how her friend Mitzi, who has a great rack, now has the advantage!

Die Elisabeth, die süße, hat ein neues langes Kleid,
und es schlenkert um die Füße, die seidne Herrlichkeit.
Jedes Herz beginnt zu sieden, alle Männer drehn sich um,
doch sie selbst ist nicht zufrieden! Und wissen sie warum?

Wenn die Elisabeth nicht so schöne Beine hätt’,
hätt’ sie viel mehr Freud’ an dem neuen, langen Kleid!
Doch, da sie Beine hat, tadellos und kerzengrad,
tut es ihr so leid um das alte kurze Kleid!
Das kann man doch verstehen, beim Gehen, beim Drehen
kann man jetzt nichts mehr sehen und niemand weiß Bescheid!
Ja, wenn die Elisabeth nicht so schöne Beine hätt,
hätt’ sie viel mehr Freud’ an dem neuen, langen Kleid!

Elisabeth, the sweet, has a new long dress,
and it swings around the feet, the silk glory.
Every heart starts to boil, all men turn around,
but she is not satisfied herself! And do you know why?

If Elisabeth didn’t have such beautiful legs
if she had much more joy in the new, long dress!
But since she has legs, immaculate and candle-grade,
she is so sorry for the old short dress!
You can understand that, when walking, when turning
you can no longer see anything and nobody knows!
Yes, if Elisabeth didn’t have such nice legs,
if she had much more joy in the new, long dress!

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