New-year ball in Ghent

As mentioned in my 1830’s dress post, I wore it to the new-year’s ball in Ghent. The theme was 1830-1860 this year, and it was the perfect excuse to finally make this dress.

The ball is held in the opera of Ghent, in a beautiful baroque style room. This year, there was a dance workshop in the afternoon, which we went to as well.

After the workshop, it was time to eat, and then prep for the evening! I started on my hair, as I’d never done 1830’s hair before. I tried to photograph the process, maybe it’s helpful!

As I don’t have any hair shorter than hip length, I used fake hair for the side curls. This is such a typical thing for the era, I didn’t want to do without. These are real-hair extensions which I modified, and I’d curled them with rollers (wet-set) before.

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My other piece of fake hair was a very long weft. I used this to supplement the braid. Although my hair is very long, it’s not very thick, so I can usually use a little extra volume.

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Firs step was making the typical v-shaped parting. I then put everything up in a very high ponytail.

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Next was clipping in the front extensions. I then took two pieces from my ponytail and made two small rope braids, which go over the line of the extensions to hide them. (A quick note: this took a lot of fiddling and even more pins, I really want to find a quicker way to do this…)

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The front done, I pinned the weft into my ponytail and braided the whole lot. I then wrapped it into a bun, taking care to wrap the second time on top of the existing braid to create height. I then hid the ends and elastic inside the bun.

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And done! To finish it, I clipped in two huge flowers to the side of the bun. For another tutorial (including the famous loops), my friend Nikki has a wonderful tutorial on her youtube channel here.

The ball itself was really nice. There was a lot of dancing, and swooping crinolines. I quite liked my corded petticoat, it was definitely easier to dance in than a hoop!

 

 

In-between dancing there was social time with friends, taking pictures, and just looking at all the other lovely people. Some pictures!

The golden girls, with Josselin (my partner in crime for the weekend) and Corina. Gold was quite a popular color in this era! I love how we’re slightly chronological, early 1840’s, midway 1830’s and early 1830’s.  (It shows beautifully in the hem length!)

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We did a 1830’s group picture at the end. It took a while to get us in order, but eventually we managed to behave.

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Some more pictures of my finished dress

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A Ball in Brussels

A while back, I received information about a ball being held in Brussels by the Società di Danza, an Italian organisation for historical dances. There would be a rehearsal evening the day before the ball to learn the dances. I debated whether I would go, but received word that some friends would also be going a couple of weeks before, so I opted to come with them!

The period of the ball was mid 19th century, which meant I finally had an opportunity to wear my 1860’s ballgown to an actual ball. I had to make some slight changes to the skirt, as I’d replaced my hoop since making the gown, and it was therefore a bit long in the front. Not practial for dancing. I also chose to bustle up the back a bit, as the dress has a slight train. Very pretty, but again, not very practical in a ballroom.

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All bustled up!

 

 

This summer has been unusally hot, and of course, as the weekend approached, the days of the dance rehearsal and ball were predicted to be the warmest yet. With about 36 degrees, we were very happy with the airconditioning in the car as we drove to Brussels! The first day, we first had very hot weather, then a dust storm as the wind picked up, and then a thunderstorm as we drove to the rehearsal. It actually became dry again as soon as we arrived, and was still hot as before. In about 3 hours, we very quickly learned all the danced we’d be doing at the ball. A brief explanation, do it a couple of times, and move on. Most people there were familiar with the dances, but we weren’t, so although the explanations were very clear, it proved to be a challenge to actually remember the dances for the next day!

During the next day, we visited the lace and costume museum. The costume bit was a very modern exhibition, but the lace room was beautiful. We spent quite a bit of time admiring the antique laces.

 

One of my favourite things was this little lace shop.

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In the end, it became too warm and we spent the rest of the day finding shops with airconditioning until it was time to get ready.

The ball was held in a beautiful venue with a large ballroom, and sitting rooms along side. Luckily, it was not as warm as the rehearsal room. Wearing a corset and a black velvet dress, it was still very warm, but doable.

Mirrors are very convienient for costume pictures!

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The dancing was fun, although definitely a bit of a challenge! We were briefly shown a repetition, but that was all. Luckily, most people in attendance actually knew what they were supposed to do, so we could copy them and got along okay.

Dancing a quadrille, picture with thanks to the Società di Danza!

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And a walz about to start (I think). We’re in the bottom right corner.

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A group picture of all the lovely attendees!

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The 1660’s dress in action! New-year’s ball in Ghent

Last weekend I wore the full 1660’s ensemble for the first time! Although I’d been looking at this period for longer, the theme of this years new-years ball in the opera of Ghent was the perfect excuse to actually start. The theme was inspired by the early days of Versailles, and was 1660 to 1715, so I was one of the ‘old fashionably’ dressed. There were a couple more beautiful 1660’s gowns, but also some wonderful late 17th century ones, which was nice as it’s not a style to see too much.

We arrived in Ghent early afternoon, had some lunch and then went to the hotel to change. Luckily, we had quite some space and very good mirrors in the room, which really helped with changing. Doing some last-minute sewing, hair, and actually getting dressed took some time, and we were ready just in time for the ball!

My hair was inspired by these images:

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I curled the front of my hair with rags, put in the evening before the ball. As it looks quite ridiculous with the rags in, I wore a vintage-style most of the day. Perfect for hiding curlers! I’m really happy with how my hair turned out, a big thanks to Josselin for helping me, as it did require more than 2 hands!

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The ball itself was very nice, with quite a lot of dancing. There was a dance room, a room to sit and one where you could get drinks. Other than the dancing, there was not much in terms of entertainment and there was no food, but given the price of the evening I expected this, and I wanted to dance anyway. There was also a small baroque-dance demonstration at the end, which was very nice to see.

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Watching the demonstration

 

The building was really beautiful, and fit in perfectly with the dress code. Thanks to Josselin for these images, as I forgot my pocket and left my phone in my bag most of the evening…

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All in all, I had a lot of fun, and will definitely keep an eye out for next year’s theme!

The pictures of the full outfit!

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A visit to Bath – Part II

In my last blog post I wrote about our visit to Bath early May, but not about our weekend activities. Of course, the whole incentive for travelling to Bath was the Victorian ball on Saturday, so this blog is about the ball-related events!

Saturday morning we first returned the rental car and walked back to the city center. We took a little time to visit the Victoria Art gallery, and afterwards met a friend of Marije for lunch. We were a bit tired already from all the activities, so kept the morning relaxed.

After lunch, it was time for the dance workshop! The dance master for the event walked us through several of the dances which would be done during the evening. It was nice to get a measure of the steps and already meet some people. Before we knew it, it was 5pm, and we hurried back to our B&B to get changed for the ball!

We were very lucky with our B&B, where we had a sitting room available to us as well as a bedroom. This meant room to get changed, and because it was gorgeously decorated, a location to take some pictures! By the time we got our hair done and dresses on it was already past the time we wanted to leave, so we kept it short, but still managed to get some nice images.

 

 

After pictures, it was time for the ball! We were met by the hostess and organizer, Izabella from Prior Attire at the door, and walked on to the parlour room where I attached my train (not daring to wear it outside). Not too long after we arrived, the ball proper started! Half-way through there was a short break in the dancing for some food, which was very good. We also stopped by the event photographer, and afterwards the dancing resumed again.

 

The whole ball was lovely. The music was very nice, and the dance master did a great job in managing to explain the steps clearly without the instructions dragging on too long, which can be quite a feat. The location was also lovely. The assembly rooms are quite large and can feel a bit ’empty’ because of its very classical style and high ceilings. But especially after it got a bit dark and the chandeliers turned on it was very pretty. It’s also such a historical location that it was wonderful to experience an event like this there.

I didn’t take my proper camera, but phone pictures were definitely taken!

 

 

Finally, all the guests looked absolutely amazing! I spent some time just sitting and watching others dance. So many gorgeous outfits, the standard was really very high. On top of that, everyone was incredibly kind. We didn’t know anyone who would be there, but everyone was very open and nice, and continuously complimenting others on their dresses. I was also really happy to meet some people I’d been following online for a while, and it was great to see their creations.

 

After the ball we walked home on sore feet, and after undressing, had a good night’s sleep. Not too long though, because we wanted to join the breakfast in the pump rooms the next morning! This was not an official part of the event, but everyone could just show up on their own. We left a bit early and took some pictures outside first.

 

When we saw some other ladies in costume we went to join the queue to be seated. They very kindly invited us to join them, and it was very nice to chat with them over breakfast. We managed to talk with some other guests all during breakfast, and both Izabella and the dance master from the previous evening took the time to walk by the other tables and have a short chat with everyone. Some pictures were taken again as well, this time in front of the fountain!

 

 

After breakfast we took a bit of a stroll back to our B&B. We definitely got a bit of attention, but all of it positive. A very funny moment was when we entered a little gallery, and after posing for the owners quite extensively, saw there was a large group of Chinese tourists standing right in front of the door waiting for their bus. Of course we couldn’t slip by unnoticed, so many more pictures were taken.

We finished our stroll with a quick detour into Sidney Gardens, which had some more gorgeous scenery for photos!

 

 

Alas, after arriving in the B&B it was time to get changed, and wait for our cab to take us to the train, as our flight left early that evening. We had a wonderful time in Bath, and the ball and breakfast were the perfect events to end the holiday with!

Bal Masque, by Stichting Reverence

On the 16th of November, the foundation Reverence organized its third regency ball. Reverence is a Dutch organization which organizes historical events, focusing mostly on the time of Jane Austen. I’d already heard a lot of stories about their annual historical ball from a friend of mine, but every year I doubted too long if I would go, and tickets were sold out by the time I decided. So this year, I figured that it was about time, bought my ticket on time and went to the ball. I have absolutely no regrets, I had a wonderful evening. The theme of this year was ‘Ball Masque’, so everyone came wearing masks. I finally finished my flowered regency dress for this occasion, and wore a mask bought in Venice. The location was the beautiful castle Wijenburg.

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Upon arrival, the guests were greeted by jugglers and a fire breather. The castle was beautifully lit, truly a magical arrival. Inside, we were welcomed with tea and pastries. With the ball underway, there was dancing, a blackjack chamber and a lounge. Enough entertainment for everyone :).

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The ball room during a break in the dancing. There was a lovely lady from England to teach everyone the historical dances.

In the ‘lounge chamber’, there was a small library gallery above the room. Of course, we couldn’t resist taking a look.

Me and Liesbeth, I’d already given up on my mask at this point. The book actually had a character named ‘Mr. Gay’ in it….

And of course, we had to take some pictures in the window-stills and with our fans.

My lovely friend Marije in the window-seat.

Looking mysterious with my fan ;).

There was also a lady who was cutting out silhouettes. It was amazing just to watch her with her tiny scissor just cut the most perfect little silhouettes. I love mine!

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My silhouette, created by Marjan Bogers

Finally, there was also a photographer making portraits of all the lovely looking people in front of the fireplace.

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