Victorian Ball, Bath 24 May 2015 details

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Join us for a night of passionate waltzes,  swift polkas, stately polonaises and quadrilles, a night of elegance, in lovely surroundings , with great company, lovely music and superb food – yes, the ball is happening!

Many of you were asking us about organizing another ball following the Spectacular! ball – but since last year we had to deal with the post fire issues, there was no time for organizing another event.This year however is looking much better and so  I gave in – and the ball is now on…. Since the Regency balls are held there  regularly, and a Georgian one is also held in Bath thins march ( and yes, we are going:-) ), we thought Victorian theme would work nicely!

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

Fashions for men and women, Jan 1846 France, Les Modes Parisiennes

 

The details:

The Venue – beautiful Assembly Rooms, Bath… those who have been know what an amazing location it is, when we visited last autumn, participating in the Regency ball, we were enchanted by the venue… spacious, elegant and timeless – perfect for the theme! WE will be using either the Ballroom or the Tea room – depending on the numbers, set up etc. you can see more detail on the website – Here

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Catering – by Searcy’s

A light buffet will be served half way through – and the menu is mouthwatering!

Menu

Hot

 Beef burgers with caramelised onion relish

Cod and chips with mushy peas

Potato rosti with sour cream & chives

Cold

West Country chicken liver parfait with Somerset apple jam.

Skewer of buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomato and roasted aubergine

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Mini lemon & raspberry tarts

Chocolate shots with clotted cream

 There  will be a cash bar serving drinks, just in case all that dancing makes you thirsty 🙂

Timings: 

door open at 7 -drinks, photography and socialising

8pm. dancing commences

9.15pm  Break for buffet and drinks

10pm dancing continues till 11.30

11.45pm  Carriages

12.00 Good night…. 🙂

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert. Gorgeous

The Ball by Victor Gabriel Gilbert.

 

Dancing

There will be a dance workshop during the day, where we will have a go at a few dances, practicing our moves before the ball later on.  Our Dance Master on the day will be  Stuart Marsden- those of you who  watched the re-creation of the Pride and Predjudice Ball will no doubt recogine him! Stuart  is an accomplished teacher and specializes in period dances, working with various companies including BBC  –

He was also partnering Lucy Worsley in their lovely demo of Victorian dance – a part of the BBC Dancing Cheek to cheek programme – episode 2:-)

Stuart  will  not only  share his knowledge with us during the practice – he will be the one calling the dances in the evening too.  You can see the details on his website

http://www.thedancingmaster.co.uk/victorian.html

 

Faster and slower dances will feature ( waltzes, polkas, polonaise) and no partner is required – ladies can dance with other  ladies if needs be, as most dances are danced in sets, and partners are swapped on regular basis :-). no previous experience necessary!

The workshop will take place in the Assemply Rooms, – starting from 3pm on  the 24th May and will last for approximately 90 minutes…

Workshop dress code – you can come dressed in Victorian daywear, or modern attire –  comfy shoes a must:-)

 

For the workshop we will be using recorded music, for the event we have private musicians hired as well:-)

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Ball  Dress Code

Well, Victorian! fully fledged Victorian evening toilettes are welcome, but modern renditions and steampunk’d versions are acceptable, as long as there is no nudity and the skirts don’t show too much ankle….

For those of you who are making their own attire,  there is an inspiration board on Pinterest with a few ideas, and if you search this blog you will see a few post on making Victorian girly garb, step by step:-)

If you are commissioning your outfit, there are a few  recommended suppliers:

1. Prior Attire – well, us, of course…. Bespoke and off the peg, including corsetry and underpinnings. We now have only a couple of slots left before the ball, otherwise fully booked till June.http://www.priorattire.co.uk/

2. Wyte Phantom – lovely corsetry and gowns, again, fairly booked but Jen still has a few slots left! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wyte-Phantom/119904928081954?fref=ts

3. Dressing History – Serena provides lovely accessories and bespoke dressmaking as well – http://www.dressinghistory.co.uk/#!shop/cfvg

4. Prometheus Gearing – http://www.prometheusgearing.co.uk/ great menswear!

5. Gentlemen’s Emporium – Ready made, american, ( so expect to pay the custom duty charge) but great coats, waistcoats etc, at a very accessible price. Men’s items good, ladies – not so much, more of a fantasy – but still well made.http://www.gentlemansemporium.com/mens_victorian_clothing.p…

6. Cloak’d and Dagger’d – both men’s and ladies wear –http://www.cloakedanddaggered.com/menu/19th-century/

7. Meredith Towne – http://www.meridithtowne.co.uk/

 

Do not despair if you don’t have anything suitable – modern evening ( black tie) attire will serve you well!

Please note – although I would love to have  just people in the highest quality authentic Victorian gear, I am also realistic – so the focus of the ball is having a great time, and not a ‘who’s got the prettiest/most authentic/ silkiest etc frock  competition’. Enjoy the dances, the food and the experience, but refrain from costume snarks, please! 😉

DSC_0038 Photography

Just as  before, the lads from Mockford Photography will be joining  us again –  so if you want a high quality picture of you in your best rags, the prints will be available on the night:-) The service proved to be very popular last time, and I believe the boys will be no less busy than last time:-)

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Fringe events 

Since it is the Bank Holiday weekend and the ball is on Sunday,  it look like many folk will be coming down to Bath for the whole weekend.

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There are numerous tourist attractions to keep people occupied for a week at least, and a variety of things to see – from the amazing Fashion Museum, Roman Baths ( more info  here), Jane Austen centre, carriage rides, lush gardens, parks, etc… The shops are full of  unusual and high quality items, and the antique shops can entrance treasure hunters for hours.

On top of that we plan to have a little informal  Victorian picnic on Saturday – the location will be most likely in the Royal Victoria park.  Everybody is welcome to join us, Victorian day dress encouraged but not required…

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 Now there is also talk of  doing Monday breakfast Victorian style – probably  in the elegant Pump Rooms…. details on our fb page!

The details of the ball and the picnic are posted on our page and the event,  and the sites are updated with the recent information, including accommodation, picnic  etc. Each month there is a draw amongst the ticket holders for a free workshop session – we already have 3 winners, and by the time we close the box office there will be  3 more! 🙂

Victorian ball on Facebook

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 Tickets

The tickets are available from the website – currently we have sold  just over a half, so there is still a fair amount to go – but going swiftly! 🙂

Tickets can be purchased here 🙂

 

Needless to say, am really excited and cannot wait! 🙂  hope to see you there too!

 

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

Ball at the Galerie des Glaces, Versailles 25 Aug 1855 Leaves from a Journal by Queen Victoria

 

Vampires at Gosfield Hall

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I have never actually been to a proper Halloween Party, but this year we were seduced into attempting one. Admittedly most of the seduction was done by the location – we have been to Gosfield Hall before, to shoot our Summer Bride collection last year – and loved it! So the tickets were bought, and since it was Lucas’ birthday on the 1st, I treated us, as a surprise, to securing the sumptuous Bridal Suite for our stay.

And with a venue like that and  lodgings dripping with gold, I obviously needed suitably splendid attire….

Fortunately I had a cunning plan – I have designed the Batdress   several months ago, a spur of the moment thing,  and then was lucky enough to get a bargain fabric –  15m of crushed silk velvet – useless for historical outfits, but perfect for a bit of Halloween fancy dress.

The original sketch,

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and a work in progress sketch – yep, that’s how I make skirts and gauge how much fabric  to use…

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the foundations first – a cage crinoline, mid Victorian design, and a muslin petticoat from one of our bridal frocks….

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then the skirt….

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The corset was a bit of a challenge – because it was to be worn over a crinoline and not  underneath, it had to be much shorter, allowing for the skirts to billow up. As a result, it turned out to be a surprisingly comfortable  wear:-)

The corset used plain coutil as a strength layer,  tape castings for channels and cotton for lining. Decoration – silver and black lace appliques, silver thread flossing and red beads.

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insides before fitting in the lining

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close up of the lace

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decoration complete

 

The overskirt/wings were made of the same fabric and lined with faux duponi silk from James Hare – and boned with thin metal flat steel.

other accessories included these..

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Once the dress was done, I have 6 hours to make something more before we hit the road – and in a mad rush I made another corset, satin and calico , with lace and silk tulle decoration:-), styled for a Bridal vampiric  look…

The plan was to arrive early and shoot the bridal stuff first, then change and have fun in the Bat dress. alas, we underestimated the traffic – Friday, end of half term, halloween – we were stuck on the motorway for  much too long. as a result, we arrived in time to get ready, but not to shoot the bridal stuff – that will have to be done the following morning!

We were surprised , very pleasantly, by a nice card and a bottle of white wine awaiting us in the suite – a present from our friend Eleanor, who was also attending the party! 🙂

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not a good picture, but captures the grin… and the room….

Before the party a girl needs to relax –  a bath and a face mask was in order. Lucas did have a bit of a shock when i joked I could go to the party wearing this….

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but at last the clothes were on, make up and hair was done and we could take a few pictures….

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The event was very atmospheric – an amazing singer in one room, roast boar dinner and a cobweb covered pianist playing tunes from the Phantom of the Opera in the other, fireworks outside – amazing!

apart from relaxing, eating and enjoying ourselves, we did take more pictures  at the end of the night….

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Batdress in its full glory

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and one from the end of the night…. corset undone, hair loose – and yet it worked too 🙂

 

as to the question i was asked a few times at the party – how do you go to the loo in that?

well, the answer is simple – wear split drawers ( or none….) and go in forward….

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In the morning we got up early and  shot the Dracula’s bride styling – corset with lace, with a scrap of lace as a headdress, my bridal veil and a silk chiffon skirt….

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nom nom nom

we were having so much fun we almost missed breakfast – as a result i rushed downstairs half dressed – don’t think many people minded though – the corset looked great with jeans too!

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I must admit I loved wearing the Batdress – but it was a one off and is going to be put on sale ( though not before we shoot it somewhere else – the original idea was a forest or a cemetery), just like the bridal corset – no doubt next year I will come up with a different kit: – )

hope you enjoyed the madness – we did, and are planning more Halloween outings in the future!

 

 

 

Robe a la Francaise in yellow brocade

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 There comes a time in every costumer’s life when you just cannot put it off any longer – you need to have a go at the sack back, or robe a la francaise. I have been meaning to play around with it for quite some time, but was waiting for the opportunity to arise – and for the right fabric to turn up. And then, in 2011,  I snatched a bolt of silk brocade in bright yellow, with lovely 18th century pattern in white. Not my favourite colour, but the pattern was simply too good to miss.

 And so, the French adventure started…

 I already had stays, in linen,  fully boned, based on the ones in KCI, but I needed structural support…

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linen stays, handsewn…

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stays in action..

  I used the pattern for pocket hoops from the Corset’s and Crinolines, and it it was easy to run a pair of them in no time at all – the instructions were simple and easy to follow.

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pocket hoop fabric ready for assembly

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ta dah!

Now for the frock itself. I followed the pattern from Janet Arnold,  Patterns of fashion 1 ; the one with comperes front, ( buttoned up)

the petticoat was first: the construction was pretty straightforward, though the flounces were a pain – the fabric frayed like mad….

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trim in the making…

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more trim on the petticoat…

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the skirt…. 🙂

  Then it was time to address the main article – the robe itself.  Again, the pattern is simple, as is the principle – the difficult part was lack of an assistant who would be able to pleat  and pin the thing on me… had to improvise with a dummy.

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pinning away…

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the front…

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sleeves taking shape…. the bodice part and sleeves are made in linen.

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the front part….

And there it is! 🙂 my first attempt- a few things i can improve upon, but happy with the first go result.

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 and worn  on me – here on the set of Horrible HIstories

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Horrible Histories set – you can just about spot me in the back…

We also used the frock for an 18th century themed bridal photoshoot  in Harrowden Hall- a mix of 18th century frocks and modern styles – alas models turned up to be 3 sizes smaller than requested, so the frocks are not displayed at their best – but still Mockford Photography and Pitcheresque Imagery  managed to get a few good shots!

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the three frocks  we used – from the left – polonaise en fourreau, robe francaise, robe anglaise

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the Anglaise in dusty pink

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and the polonaise in brocade. made a bit to big ( the shoot was 5 days after my shoulder operation, so made it a tab bigger so that i could squeeze my dressing into the sleeve:-)

 The Yellow francaise ended up, very appropriately, in Paris – and is now living  a rich and meaningful life, mostly being used for side saddle riding – shown below as a masquerade attire, on the day when we delivered int to Paris, on its new owner – Anne-Beatrice:-)

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  Now, I still have some more of that fabric – am tempted to make a caraco jacket in it…. 🙂

Eleanor through the ages

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 A slightly different post –  mostly to honour one of my most loyal customers – or, to be precise, a customer who, though the years of stitching, fittings, events etc, has became a very close friend. Eleanor now has a rather full wardrobe of Prior Attrie outfits, from medieval to Victorian –  and  I am going to present some of them below.

 The first contact was made through Ebay – Eleanor wanted to purchase one of the frocks i was selling – but needed it shorter..

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the houppelande on offer…

Shortening the gown was no problem, so we met at one of the markets and I have sorted it on the spot.. and that’s how it started… that is also how I met Ian from Black Knight Historical – but this i think will be another post… 🙂

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the gown on Eleanor, as Margaret Paston here

 12th century

 A gown fit for a queen – clothes for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine

kirtle in silk, dress in silk with ornamental borders, veil and wimple

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 13th century 

 middle / lower class kirtle and dress in wool

Image and another early 13th frock, here at the fitting – wool with embroidery

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14th century

 a surcoat in cloth of gold – another queenly garment…

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 and a bit more modest, a nun’s outfit – 13-14th century

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15th century

 most of the work here was either kirtles for the camp or burgundian gowns – i have made 3… some of them below…

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at Tewkesbury

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Tewkesbury Abbey

16th Century

 here we started with an upper-middle class merchant’s wife..

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at kelmarsh

 a bit posher…

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at Blickling Hall, with a silk kirtle

and a silk velvet gown, for Peterborough cathedral

Image  An  early Elizabethan outfit – loose gown over a silk kirtle ( the same kirtle as above btw – it is reversible, plain gold on one side, brocade on the other….., coif and a cap

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  17th century 

 alas, nothing as yet…. i think…

 18th century

 a pair of brocaded stays, silk petticoat and brocade jacket. event blog here

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 19th century

 Regency – a gown in silk – here as a Mrs. Bennett, with me as her daughter – more details of the event here

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 Victorian

 a schoolmistress/egyptologist just a jacket by me. my first ever Victorian item too!

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 was a 1883 suit for my wedding – Eleanor was my Matron of Honour:-)

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then the mourning gown – work at Holkham ( blog  here)

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1885 mourning gown

 and a 1884 evening gown, also worn for our Spectacular Ball

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 I even did a Halloween corset and skirt for Eleanor – here worn for our Steampunk dinner at Coombe Abbey last autumn – not a best photo but we were too busy eating and having fun – so it is almost the only one I think…

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  and for the time being – that’s it! Many thanks to Eleanor for being a perfect client and a perfect friend – hope you enjoyed the journey too!

Challenge: A 1884 Evening Gown in 24 hours….

 I have been planning to make this gown for the last 8 or 10 months.  The fabrics were all stacked up in my workroom, trims waiting in drawers and the only thing i needed was time. Alas, most of my … Continue reading

Spectacular! Spectacular! Masquerade Ball 2013

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And it is done.  The Ball has taken place, and what a night it was!

The last few days before the ball ( 27th April) were manic – i only had about a day and a half to get my dress sorted ( a separate post on that here..)  and deal with the last minute issues, problems, cancellations etc.

But all was sorted in time and by 1pm we were on the move, driving first to our hotel in Slough, even managing a short nap there, and then by 4 we were at the beautiful Heatherden Hall – a part of Pinewood Studios.

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outside, at 4 pm

Inside, the team from Corporate Events already laid up our oak dancefloor, covering the entire ballroom.

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flooring sorted!

We had a quick chat with Paul, our DJ on the day ( also from Corporate Events), about the music, preferences, set up etc –  and with the music working  we simply had to have a go on the dance floor ! we decided to go through our  tango routine, but the stress was making it more of a free style improvisation rather than our proper routine! At that point our photographer, Paul Mockford and his assistant Jason arrived – and without much ado filmed the thing! you can see it here

After that sneaky footage the boys got started on setting their photo studio in the Pools room, and we had a chat with the resident staff who was to care for us in the evening, headed by  the competent Ivona. after that all that was to do was getting ready. Sarah and Lizzie, providing the beauty saloon services, were ready at 5, and the ladies who secured their make up and hairstyling slots were arriving on time  – the rest of the guests were to start arriving at 6.

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Sarah and Lizzie hard at work…

By then I was already dresses, make up and hair sorted ( more or less) and helping other ladies to get dressed – the facilities were great as we had the whole of the Conservatory and the PIne room just for ladies.  during various lacing, arranging and pinning, i talked to our dance teacher, Charlotte Ewart, going through the last bits of information on the dances to be taught.

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getting ready… the atmosphere was great as everybody was helping everybody else:-)

The weather wasnt perfect – but luckily by 6 it has stopped raining and the guests started arriving on the red carpet. Soon the gardens, patio and the bar, where the welcome drinks were served,  were throbbing with people dressed in their finest..

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the bar…

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having fun on the patio

The gardens, with their bridges, sculptures and the labirinth-like hedges were a popular destination for strolling and taking photos…

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  Then, at 8 the dancing started. We begun with the traditional Polish dance, Polonaise – it is a promenade dance, easy to follow and it is still the dance that opens every Prom Ball in Poland..

I led with Chris , our musician ( Blast from the Past) and Lucas followed with Charlotte.   Our fears that people would be reluctant to dance were quickly dispelled –  the dancefloor was packed full as we processed to the polonaise from Eugene Onegin

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Lucas and Charlotte

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polonaise in full swing…

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leading with Chris

After the polonaise Charlotte  guided us through the Duke of Kent waltz, proper waltz hold and steps, aend even a few polkas. Polkas were a killer, leaving us completely breathless!  all to lovely live music from Sophie and Chris.

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a polka

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one of the waltzes…

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us having a go at a polka

some people preferred a more passive participation though, simply enjoying the view. Some took it very easy indeed!

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taking it easy to the next level…

 After the lesson the DJ took over and more waltzes, quicksteps, and more waltzes following for another hour. The dance floor emptied a bit as at the same time food was served and most folks made their way to the pools room to partake in the buffet.

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The food was delicious – alas so delicious that some people went to get seconds and thirds – and as a consequence a few folks  who were still dancing, us including arrived to see empty plates – or half full plates being carried back to the kitchen as people piled more food than they could eat… a bit of a lesson on human nature here, so the food issue is one to be seriously addressed in the future, if i decide to organize another ball. As it was, I was lucky enough to get a bite of a tiramisu Sarah managed to secure for me…

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At the same time the photography team had their hands full – people were having their photos taken, printed and mounted in one go!

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Paul Mockford at work!

After a few more waltzes ( lots of improvisation on our part – but there were a few good couples who could really whirl around!) music gradually changed to a more modern tracks, including music from Moulin Rouge  and a fully eclectic mix of rock, tango ( again, lots of improvisation  and silliness here on our part!) and other dance tunes. The Prince Charming theme went down a treat – many thanks to whoever requested it!  some gilrs chose to take the log skirts off and boogie around in shorter numbers, but the majority danced the night away in their finery!

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prince charming walk….

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girls having fun!

And so the evening continued – dancing, drinking, chatting in a relaxing manner.

As far ars the costumes are concerned – I was hugely impressed!  I must admit that I dreaded  seeing those cheap fancy dress rental pieces, but I shouldn’t have worried. tTe garments were absolutely divine, in most cased hand made by the participants or by few skillful costumiers present at the ball – Felicity Westmacott, Denise Piggin or Christina Dettmers to name just a few – and of course I had a hand in making a few of the costumes too…..:-) ( historical and bridal)

The range was astounding – from pure blown out fantasy, through fashion corsetry to authentic Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian or Tudor garments. Steampunk was very much in evidence as well – in short a true feast for the eyes!  just a few picture s here, more can be founf on fb – link here

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best hat ever!

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The fun ended at about 12.30 when the bar closed, and we saw the last of the guests off just after 1am…

Absolutely knackered, we made our way to the hotel when at last, hungry as we were, we shared a left over bagel… 🙂

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after party bagel… yum! and after paerty look, not so yum…

Altogether, a successful night, with the food issue to be addressed at any future events. Feedback so far was good, so  many thanks to all of you who contributed to the fantastic atmosphere at the ball – and thank you for those who let me use their photos…

another blog on the ball, written by one of the guests, can be found here

and if you fancy another ball – this year;s event is coming soon!  Check out our Victorian Ball

and some of the feedback received on our pages – many, many thanks for it, i was really down because the food situation, and the feebback received did raise my spirits a great deal!:

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Thank you for a truly spectacular evening! We all had a fantastic time! Really appreciate all the time and effort you went to to make it such an incredible event! ♥
great evaning Izabela! Thank you for all the hard work. It ran so smoothly, a testament to your great planning!

What a lovely night! I got to dance to The Sound of Music- Edelweiss and NIN- Closer all in one night… As always I am blown away by the talent that surrounded me. The dresses and coats, the skirts and corsets, waistcoats and pantaloons, each of them were beautifully constructed and many of them by the very people wearing them. It inspires me 🙂 Thanks to everyone who came for making it such a friendly evening, it was a pleasure meeting you, and thank you to the Prior Attire team for putting together a truly Spectacular! Spectacular! event 🙂

We are all amazing. What a beautiful evening.
Thank you Izabella for a great night, and thankyou to all for their fabulous costumes, makeup, masks and headpieces, I so enjoyed looking at all the creativity. As you might have guessed, the kit did get finished, and got some really nice comments from other guests.
We had a lovely evening. Thanks for all your work in putting together such a lovely event in a stunning venue!