Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Night Circus Gala at the Red Mile

Jenni, Laura, and I from our sewing society attended;
sorry for the blur, folks.  What's with the bad fit on my
dress? Read the next post to find out ;p
Last night the Night Circus came to town, and for those wearing red scarves, it was a magical evening in a wedding-cake barn in the clearest of air under a crisp white moon.

If you've read the book by Erin Morgenstern, you already know a little about what I am talking of. If you live near Lexington, KY, you know that the the Night Circus Gala fundraiser in honor of the Lexington-Fayette Public Library happened at the Red Mile barn last evening, and that it was a real success.

Who knew there'd be so many people, from gents in their 80s to itty-bitty little girls, who wanted to dress in red, black and white or their steampunk or Victorian best, don a red scarf and go watch fire dancers, hula dancers, sword swallowers, jugglers, acrobats, magicians, stilt walkers, and the only brass band I know of who boast some members who like black and white tights? There was so much more even than that, and the hors d'oevres were fresh, excellent quality and wild. Grass green tarts? Our town loves a good party, and heaven knows, loves to dress up. So perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. Still, it was a treat to see so many different kinds of people throwing care over their shoulders, patting on a decorated top hat and goggles or wiggling into a bustled tutu over fishnet tights, or just a suit or party dress, and heading out for a good time together. Thank you, Laura and Jenni, for making sure we all went! (A note: other people took pictures of us together, but this is one of the only ones I have of us three. Grr. Debra, another friend from book club -- so good to see you, Debra! -- took the rest of me.)

Would that I had a real camera along, but alas, the cell phone had to do. So, if you feel like squinting a little into a haze, come with me and view a few of the sights. Sure hope that more people will post interesting pictures. The Herald Leader did, but it's just mug shots. Cute ones, but mug shots anyway. Oh, wait, Erin Morgenstern posted some, plus she wrote about it all on her blog, in ponies! gala! i love kentucky. Well, we love you, too!

Okay, Here's the Dress

The dress? The black 1870 bustle dress from last fall, with some changes and additions. Nice vacant stare, there. (Edit, oh, and there's something strange going on with the fit. Read my next post to find out what. Giggle, snort.)

Gone is the old plain neckline. It's replaced with what was often known at the time as a collarette, a cotton and lace collar shaped to the neckline and tacked into place. It can be changed out as needed. I used some handsome antique lace, edged it with cotton to match the dress trim, and added a velvet bow at the bottom, another typical touch.

The red scarf worn by the circus goers is an antique silk obi. It's lighter than air, fluttery, and one of my favorite accessories, waiting for years to come out of the chest. Cannot wait to wear it in a contemporary setting.

The overskirt trim has been beefed up with bias fold band trim, tacked down about every inch with black thread. The pleats to each side of the overskirt are covered with rosettes in black cotton to match the big rosette at the back. The overskirt is belted with an antique Victorian silk sash; had I a back shot you could see the applied soutache braid and the fancy knotted fringe.

The underskirt flounce is now topped with a 9-inch box-pleated trim sewn down top and bottom; the design was very, very common and I like it a lot. Later I'll add a final bias fold band above it to match the overskirt. Please note one darling tiny tot to the left, along with her proud daddy.

The hat has been trimmed on the side with a bow of white gimp. Sadly, once again the stupid hat just would NOT stay in place. This time, instead of tipping to the side, it slid backwards. It's supposed to be tipped forward on my head. Two strikes and you're out, hat. Time to take you apart and make a new one. Grrrrr. Which I did...

Since this was a fantasy event, I left most of my hair long, just putting a wee bit in a bun to hold out the veil in the back.

I didn't pouf the overskirt much this time, and rather like the more relaxed effect.

Now owning several enormous heavy duty hooks and eyes, I will attach them to bodice and skirt, for just as on its first wearing, the bodice rode up a bit.

Sorry for the lack of back shots. Costumers always photo the back view, but apparently I didn't get the message. Ah well.

A Bit of the Event

Cameras were in evidence everywhere.

The March Madness brass band.

Hula dancers in the dusk: the hula hoops often looked like liquid neon in the air.

Late dusk arrived, the moon rose over the top of the round Red Mile barn, and the chill started to descend.

Folks moved under the tent, like the stilt walker,

or inside the barn, lit with fairy lights

and a glorious three-tier chandelier, all under a wooden roof feet and feet and feet above. People-watching was magnificent from the second-level railing.

I wonder if the peacock lady, who I think won the costume contest, ever tired of being photographed? She had an enormous tail and an applied mohawk, and this was her first sewing venture. Pretty successful, I think!

Advance advertising for the event, as if it needed it. People had been waiting for months. A side note: apparently galas in this mold have been popping up all over the States in the past months, if Google is any guide.

Now, it's time to for me to read the book. If you haven't visited Ms. Morgenstern's site, go find her blog. I've already discovered that her poetry, and especially her very short stories, are good reading. Her work makes me think of a kinder version of the magical realism novels I studied in undergrad days.

Now for bed, and I hope, magically good dreams. Good night!


The Bohemian Belle said...

Looks like so much fun! My friend Reva went as well, and she had a blast. Also I just realized I once went to a wedding at that barn! It's a small world!

MrsC (Maryanne) said...

It sounds like a magically wonderful night. You look amazing of course, and very happy! xo

Laura Morrigan said...

This sounds amazing! It is my dream to attend the Night Circus! And of course, I have loads of Steampunk clothes to wear there! I hope we can one day have one of these balls near where I live!

Your dress is amazing, as are the others!

Time Traveling in Costume said...

LOL, I wonder if any of us ever get to wear our gowns fully trimmed, or do they always end up on the 2nd or 3rd wearing? I'm almost done with my own 1870s gown for a fashion show but I don't have time to even think about how to trim it. I'll need to think about that white collar.

ZipZip said...

Thanks, you all! I am still Monday-morning quarterbacking the event; it really was that fun. Bohemian Belle, I wonder what the wedding was like in the barn, and if people made jokes about having a wedding inside a wedding cake. :}

Val, I am not sure I have ever completely finished an ensemble before wearing it, and you know, it's kind of fun that way, because you get ideas as you wear them. My latest idea? Got to make a balayeuse to go under the skirt's train: I picked up popcorn and all kinds of ick that evening and have to get the skirt drycleaned. Live and learn :}

Very best to all,


Anonymous said...

This sounds like so much fun!! My book club read the book last month and we all want to attend a Night Circus. How wonderful that got to!
Hugs and love

ZipZip said...

Thanks, Wu! I hope your library or some other organization puts one on. It was a blast. Thomas and Bill would have been thrilled, too.