Herein are the chronicles of my little part in the massive, nine-costumer group to recreate the Portrait of the Empress Eugenie Surrounded by her Maids of Honor (1855) by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. We entered the historical masquerade competition at Costume-Con 26 in San Jose, 2008, and won Best in Show.
My costume is that of the Marquise de la Tour-Maubourg, wearing purple and black. When Kendra first suggested this project, I zoomed in on the Tour-Maubourg gown because, hey, she’s the token goth chick, just like me! This costume era was, is, and never will be of great interest to me, but I was sucked in by the chance to make a giant pretty dress with a bunch of my favourite people.
The dress diary goes into great and gory detail about my process for making this thing, our group’s trials to get done on time, plus my experience of the masquerade itself (including the dreaded Workmanship Judging). It’s a little raw, but I’m putting it her because it’s real. Sometimes costuming isn’t just about sewing or researching. It’s not even about artistry. It can be about perseverance, rising to a challenge, and pushing yourself. Perhaps anything you truly care about is like that; you never grow unless you force yourself outside of your comfort zone. This project was hugely outside of everything I knew and felt comfortable with.
I felt privileged to be asked by these people, and I was indebted to every one of them for their support and assistance along the way. Each person had information, guidance, opinions, and resources that helped me do this, and I hope that I helped them too in my own little ways. It was touch-and-go at moments, but we pulled it together, and everything really was worth it in the end.
Want to jump ahead? Check out the complete website for the Eugenie Project: Details about every gown and all our historical documentation.