Chatelaines

One symbol of a house keepers status was her Chatelaine, the Swiss Army knife of the 18th century!  A good housekeeper was prepared at all times so besides carrying her great big ring of keys she may also have a thimble, pair of scissors, a watch, or any handy little tool.  Phoebe’s chatelaine is now on display in the Victoria & Albert Mueseum in London. 

Mrs Phoebe Miller – Housekeeper

My role in the house is that of housekeeper  who is repsonsible for the smooth running of the house and all of the female staff.  When researching a house keeper’s role I came across the wonderful Hannah Wolley and her 3 publications of sage wisdom and advice for gentle women who aspire to run a smooth a and efficient household.  She advices that I should carry myself as  grave, solid and serious and I should be competent in preserving, conserving and candy making and of course all manner of waters.  I should be careful when looking after the rest of the servants ensuring they perform their duties correctly and that no goods be spoilt or embezelled!

I just have to share this recipe for Plague Water:

One pound of Rue, Sage, Rosemary, Sorel, Celandine, Mugwort, the tops of Red Brambles, Pimpernel, Wild Dragons, Agrimony, Balm, Angelica.
Put together in a pot and cover with white wine, let stand for 4 dasy then distill it for your use.

Might not have cured plague but it probably smelled better than the inhabitants of the city.

18th Century Fashion

I have finally got my dream boutique in London!  As a young teenager I always wanted to have a really cool shop in London.  I loved the late 60s and early 70s fashion that came from London but being an Aussie girl from the suburbs that wasn’t really ever going to be an option – until now.  I have a dress shop in Second Life in 18th Century Charing Cross.  I have recreated clothing that is available for the other students to wear in their roles in the house.  This means that I had to design and create clothes not just for the Lady of the house but the servants as well.

I discovered that althought the working classes could only afford simple woollen clothing – cotton did not become affordable till the second half of the 18th C- as part of their salary packages their Lords and Ladies would give them their hand me downs, which could be sold or worn.

In the first half of the 18th C bodices or corsets were always laced at the back, setting them apart from the French, but as they became stays to flattten the bust line the lacing moved to the front.  Farthingales were worn (which became crinolines in the 19th C) to give enourmous full skirts.  Women always wore a hat or cap and a big red cloak was essential for travel.  Just like Little Red Riding Hood.

The Georgian House

To facilitate our role playing in the house we have been assigned characters typical of the era in an 18th C London town house – I have a second avatar (not the movie kind I am quite tall but I’m definitely not blue)  or persona so that we are all anonymous.

The house has been furnished with period appropriate furniture, fittings, art works and acroutements.  Over the semester we have to research every aspects of our characters life; how they came to be in London, what they do in the house, their social lives, money matters, future prospects, consumption (not the disease! consumerism consumption  – shopping) and the evolving modern society.

What I have come to realise already is that most of our modern institutions have their origins in the 18th Century:

  • The financial world – banking, stock markets, even the global financial crises – the South Sea Bubble.
  • Colonialism & the British Empire
  • Consumerism
  • Industrialisation
  • Urbanisation
  • Pollution
  • Entrepreneurial-ism
  • Home Decorating!
A view through the window of our Georgian town house
Outside view of my shop

Fashion Icon

Audrey Hepburn was and still is an icon of style and good taste. I chose two dresses that Audrey made famous as inspiration, the first an Oscar winning gown from the movie Sabrina designed by Hubert du Givenchy and surrounded by controversay. Although at Audrey’s request Givernchy designed all of her wardrobe for the movie, […]
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Orientique

A visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s fashion collection inspired a renewed interest in Art Nouveau and Art Deco fashion, Paul Poiret in particular   This outfit is inspired by Poiret using his drape rather than cut method and to acknowledge his part in dressing women in pants. Black Merino, tissue chiffon nuno & silk […]
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Paul Poiret

Self proclaimed “King of Fashion”, he was largely responsible for the social acceptance of women wearing pants and freed women from the tight, constricting corsets of the turn of the 20th century. His designs were intricate, detailed and made brilliant use of the drape of the fabric rather than a tailor’s traditional approach of stitch […]
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Jeanne Paquin –Maison Paquin 1891 – 1956

Paquin is a readily recognisable name yet it is her husband, Isidore Paquin, a wealthy banker, that is most often credited with her success. Jeanne Paquin was an exceptional woman, far ahead on her contemporaries. She pioneered many aspects of couture fashion including being the first women to have a recognised haute couture house, opened […]
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