Making a Mid Victorian Ball Gown

In the previous tutorial we dealt with undergarments (drawers, chemise and a petticoat), and the crinoline cage is explained here). So, it is now time to tackle the gown itself! Again, since this series is mostly dedicated to the guests of … Continue reading

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

 

Spectacular! Spectacular! Masquerade ball April 27th 2013

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 Spectacular!Spectacular!  Masquerade Ball  April 27, 2013

 

  So you get engaged, spend 10 months organizing the big day,  you get married, a bit surprised at how smoothly things went, go on a honeymoon and then back to normal life.

 Although my ‘normal life’ is according to generic standards not particularly normal; none of the 9 to 5 thing going on, more of a 8-23, but with breaks for running, coffee, training, naps etc; no work dress code, but then dressing up for events, (one week as queen Katherine of Aragon, the next as a Victorian lady, or  a 15th century merchant’s wife, or an aristocratic escapee from the French revolution…), I found that I missed the excitement of the preparation for the wedding.

 So when my newlywed husband asked me a few months into the wedlock if I had any particular plans for the following year, the answer was: ‘I want a ball! Preferably a Victorian one, but a fantasy/steampunk one would not be frowned upon either’.

 This sort of wishful thinking is generally ‘easier said than done’, but, with lots of contacts in the re-enactment community, dance groups and alternative subcultures, it turned out to be a bit more feasible.

 We started with some basic market research, asking a simple question on Facebook. Within a few hours we had lots of positive replies, and although you do tend to take such things with a pinch of salt – usually about a third of the people who declare they are interested in doing something ends up doing it – the rest fall behind as the timing, cost or other life issues pop up.

 Still, it was a start.

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Sculpture gallery, woburn Abbey

 Finding the venue was the next big step. We visited a few suitable venues – Woburn Abbey was stunning, but  well above our means – we could afford it only if we didn’t want to offer food, and we felt that a nice little buffet served half way through would be quite popular.

 Still, the stunning surroundings of the place offer a lot of potential, and I suppose it would be a very strong contender if we ever considered a ball without the option of food.

 Wrest Park was the next on our list – again, absolutely lovely and one of my firm favourites, but  the catering option would eat our finances down to nothing in no time at all, or make the price of tickets far too high.

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Heatherden Hall

 And then we found Heatherden Hall, a part of Pinewoods Studios. After a short visit, we were enchanted. Lovely rooms, stunning gardens, and what’s more important – within our budget – even with the catering.  We needed to pay a bit more to cover the cost of covering the entire ballroom with proper dance floor, but it was worth it.

   Venue booked, ticket prices and guest numbers more or less agreed on, it was time to get a Facebook event going and start advertising, marketing and selling tickets. It was relatively early and we still had about 9 months, but it never does any harm to plan early!

 Lucas & I came up with some lovely wording for the page and the rest is history…

    So, let me show you the place and explain what is happening on the day….

 

 The Venue: we have the use of the following rooms on the ground floor:

 Most important: the Ballroom. This will be floored with oak panelling, entirely suitable for about 200 people to throw themselves around in waltzes, tangos and more modern rhythms.

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the ballroom, at the moment minus the floor

 

 The Pools room – That’s where the grub will be! Tables in the middle, with casual seating all around. It even sports a very elegant little lounging section with a working fountain!

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the lounging area

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Pools room in different light – we will be aiming for more mellow, golden light and decor…

Club bar, selling quality booze!

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 Hitchcock room –  ideal to serve the welcome drinks, and for sitting and chatting  before the ball starts.

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  The Pine room – this will form the ladies’ boudoir…. a place for the girls to change into their frocks, and to leave their coats and bags behind.

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The PIne room, entry to the conservatory

 The conservatory – Sarah, our stylist, with her helper Lizzie, will be setting up a beauty parlour there. Lots of room to change as well, and it has a direct access onto the patio and to the gardens.  If you want an appointment with Sarah to have lovely make up done and your hair styled, drop her a line – I understand there are only a few places left!

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the conservatory

 

 The gardens – absolutely stunning, and hopefully the weather will be kind enough for us to have a relaxing walk about – there are some really lovely spots to take pictures in all your finery too!

 

 

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The place will be staffed, including security guards, to make sure everybody can feel safe and relaxed.

 A professional photographer, Paul Mockford, will set up a stand in one of the rooms – there you will have an unique opportunity to have your photo taken by a professional photographic artist, and printed on the spot, for a small charge.

  Access to the venue will be from 6pm: you will then have about an hour and a half to make any final preparations, enjoy your welcome drink, have a stroll in the garden and enjoy the surroundings.

 The ball will open from 8pm. For the first hour, the talented Charlotte will be putting us through our paces in some historical dance tuition. Do not be afraid, most dances are not fast (though we may have a go at a waltz and a polka…) and can be danced with either male or female partner. Sophie and Chris from ‘Blast from the Past’ will be providing live music for this part of the ball!

 Once we have practiced our dancing and are all warmed up, our DJ will kick in with more traditional music: we will have some waltzes, tangos, polkas, etc – since the ball is named after a song from the Moulin Rouge film, the music from the movie will feature strongly on the agenda!  We will mix in slower dances with more modern beats, so expect a fully eclectic mixture – from polkas, jazz, cha -chas and salsa to rock and roll and modern dance pieces, so that everybody will find something to hop, jump, glide, swoosh, sway and spin around to. We will most likely start with the traditional and dance our way towards more modern tunes as the night progresses – so ladies wearing more cumbersome frocks are free to dash to the Pine room and change into less restricting attire, should they wish.

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 And when hopping around gets a bit tiresome – the buffet in the Pools room will be available from 9pm onwards. The menu is rather impressive we combined two different sets, making sure there is a more or less balanced choice for all of our carnivorous and vegetarian guests, with special diets catered for as well. The Hitchcock Bar will be open until 12.30 … so there will be plenty of drinks to quench your thirst.

 Menu:

buffet:
 Menu: Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels
Rare Roast Beef with Horseradish in a Mini Yorkshire pudding
Broccoli and Stilton Quiche
Mini Chicken Salsa… Wraps
Samosa Selection
Salmon Fish Cakes with Lime Mayonnaise
Crispy Vegetables with Plum Sauce
Sea Salt and Black Pepper Potato Wedges

Assortment of Finger Sandwiches
Chicken Satay with Coconut and Lime
Breaded King Prawns with a Mango Salsa.
Oriental Seafood Parcels with Soy Sauce
Mini Cheese burgers
Mediterranean Bruchetta
Lamb kofta kebabs with mint and yogurt dressing
Spinach and Feta Goujons

dessert:Wild Berry and Apple Crumble
Mini Tiramisu

 Dancing, chatting, lounging and all the revels will last till after midnight, carriages are planned for  1am

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  The dress code:

  Although Moulin Rouge Victoriana/Steampunk or evening wear is recommended, we expect a truly eclectic feel to the evening; simply wear whatever makes you feel Spectacular and Special, and you will  dazzle! So whether it is a Tudor dress and a top-hat, a Venetian carnival outfit, a Steampunk gown or a modern evening wear, simply be whoever you want that night.

 We have pinned an inspiration board here…http://pinterest.com/priorattire/spectacular-spectacular-masquerade-inspiration/

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 I will have a few dresses for hire on the night – link here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.429609537113456.98657.320351544705923&type=1

 

 The one thing that WILL be expected of you, (at least for the first hour or so), will be a mask….

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 More details can be found on the event’s pages:

https://www.facebook.com/events/146217962178037/?fref=ts

 

 Tickets – not many left and the deadline is 12th April. After that date only recycled tickets will be available – a step necessary since as we are providing food, the catering folks need to know the exact numbers 2 weeks ahead…  Tickets can be purchased by BACS, Cheque, (details on fb), or for those preferring Paypal, you can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/124673581/spectacular-spectacular-prior-attire 

  

 

  And so now, with just 6 weeks to go, the pressure and the expectation are starting to build – I cannot wait to see  all the people dressed in their finest, swanning around, swaying to the music, or lounging around the fountain; gallant gentlemen helping the ladies to find the tastiest morsels, the chevaliers whisking their sweethearts away for a romantic walk in the garden; ladies chattering behind their fans about the dances and frocks; the men enjoying a whiskey at the bar… ‘romantic, nostalgic and passionate’ is the feel I would like to experience for the night – and that depends on the people taking part.  Somehow, I do not feel I will be disappointed – and I know we will have a great time – in fact, we will have a Ball!

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