For the last five years, I have owned only one Regency-era dress, which I have worn to several events and balls. So, with another JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) conference coming up in October (in Louisville this year), I decided it was time to pursue a second “Jane Austen-style” gown.
I was spurred on by my agent, Wendy Lawton, founder of The Lawton Doll company. She sent me swatches of the fabric she had on hand and generously offered to supply material for a new gown. Of the many swatches she sent, I picked three. One she had too little of, but I discovered she had actually used the other two fabrics I’d chosen on one of the beautiful dolls in her collection. So, apparently, I have a little taste after all. 🙂 Wendy sent the fabric–and it has to be the strangest piece of mail I have ever received!
I contacted family-member Jennifer Shouse-Klassen, who designed and constructed my first gown, and asked if she would make another. Jenni has an MFA in Theatre Design and taught for five years at Augustana University. She also managed the costume shop for stage productions and mentored students in costume design. Who better to make a period-specific gown?
My husband and I drove down to Mountain Lake, Minnesota–his home town–where Jennifer and her husband (one of our nephews) now live. We delivered the fabric in person, and Jenni took initial measurements. She and Justin have recently started a new bridal business there, leveraging Jenni’s skills in design, creation, and alteration. Their new shop JSK Bridal is charming and offers many gorgeous gowns and accessories, as well as tux rentals and more. I wish them all the best in their new venture!
I also emailed photos of gowns I saw online and liked, to give Jenni an idea of what I had in mind:
From there, Jenni drew a few sketches of her own. Here is the one we chose: A modified court gown (without a train), consisting of a gold gown and a blue overdress, which will fasten with a decorative closure in front. I can’t wait to see the real thing!
When it’s my turn to blog again (October 13th), I will be posting Part Two of “Say Yes to the (Regency) Dress,” and describing a little more of Jenni’s process. By then, I should be able to share photos of the finished gown—perhaps even modeled by yours truly. 🙂
Do you like dressing up? Do you have any sewing skills? (I don’t.) If you were going to choose a new dress from any particular era, which time period would you pick?
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