Sunday, July 8, 2012

All That Glitters

I have so much sewing I should be doing right now, and I fully plan to in a bit, but for now I am watching Cupcake Wars and setting some things up for you...first of which are some inspiration images for the dress I am privately referring to as the "kill myself for glitter" dress.  It is intended for the Gatsby Ball at Newport Vintage Dance Week, which I will be attending in a few weeks.  I am thrilled but also totally panicking about all the sewing I have to do before then!

The ball will be held at Rosecliff, the mansion in Newport where the 1974 Gatsby movie was filmed.

the Rosecliff ballroom
Aside from the movie connection, though, what inspiration is there for a 1920s event at a 1898 mansion?  It turns out, as always for the 'jazz age,' that Fitzgerald has the answer...

In his 1932 collection The Crack-Up Fitzgerald writes:

"the restlessness of New York in 1927 approached hysteria.  The parties were bigger--those of Conde Nast, for example, rivaled in their way the fabled balls of the nineties" (My Lost City, p27)

Well, one of my favorite things about the '20s is the sparkle...and what better place to glitter than charleston-ing in a ballroom fabulous enough for Fitzgerald to write about?  So even though I might kill myself in the process, I will drip sequins.  Here are some of my favorite inspirations.  You can check these out in detail in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

hand-laid sequins, 1925

beaded dance dress (back), 1925 from Augusta Auctions

mixed bugle beads and sequins, 1925

Alla Nazimova in sequined robe, 1921

cream velvet with beads, Augusta


detail from embroidered tulle and sequin overdress, 1926 

be-pearled and -rhinestoned flapper
Worth with metallic embroidery and lame lining, 1925
And my absolute favorite...sequin fringe!

detail of fringe and fabric below
dancer Dorothy Sebastian in similarly sparkly fringe
I think the picture-taking at this ball is going to be especially fun if all goes according to plan.


  1. I can't wait to see your finished dress! I am glad you aren't doing back fringe, though. I'm not loving that on the original... Clearly your dress will be far superior!