Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 9, 2012
If you are as much of an Anne of Avonlea costume fan as I am, I’m sure you will love my upcoming film costume project! Watching Anne of Avonlea when I was fourteen years old was probably one of the main things that got me interested in historical costumes in the first place, and it’s little wonder considering the fabulously meticulous Edwardian gowns this film is famous for.
There’s something so feminine and enthralling about Martha Mann’s costume designs that make me want to watch the movie over and over again. And with all those lacy, beribboned dresses, I don’t know how Anne Shirley always went around in such a depressed mood! How can you be completely “down in the dumps” when you have such a sumptuous wardrobe?
Anne of Avonlea Costume Trivia
Costume designer Martha Mann was perfect for the Anne of Green Gables film series, as she insisted on absolute authenticity right down to the petticoats and corset covers, and had in fact met Lucy Maud Montgomery herself as a young girl! Miss Mann’s grandmother was good friends with Montgomery, and had arranged for Martha to have tea with Lucy many years prior to the film’s production. No doubt this chance meeting in her childhood gave her unique insight into what Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters would have worn had they lived in real life.
Both the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea films were overflowing with elegant blouses, graceful tea dresses, queenly Edwardian suits, and the most incredible evening gowns! I believe it would be safe to say that these two films have inspired more women to take up costuming perhaps more than any other period costume movie of recent history. In fact, while traveling with Sense & Sensibility Patterns’ designer Jennie Chancey in England, I was discussing with her what had inspired her to begin costuming, and her reply was – “Anne of Green Gables”.
Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress
Since I love all of Anne Shirley’s and Diana Barry’s costumes I hardly know where to start, but a surprise find of 12 yards of peachy-pink bengaline moire’ (a rarity nowadays) launched me into the exciting project of recreating Diana Barry’s Going Away Dress. Remember that striking Edwardian gown that Diana wore for just a few minutes between her wedding and her departure in the carriage? I’ll admit that this costume probably isn’t as instantly recognized as others simply because it was shown for a short amount of time, but I fell in love with Diana’s dress the first time I saw it.
Throughout the years of “Anne” on screen, Diana Barry and her wardrobe were simply elegance personified. Diana (played by Schuyer Grant) looked so convincing as an Edwardian woman that if you saw a photo of her in black and white, you might think she had really lived one hundred years ago! Her bouffant airbuns, combined with decidedly Victorian features and a porcelain complexion, call to mind a “Gibson Magazine” cover. (In the second half of Anne of Avonlea, one of Anne’s students tells her the very same thing right before her departure to the ball.)
But before I ramble on for too long about how much I love these film costumes, I might as well show you the “pre-cutting” photos of my materials for this project.
The bengaline moire’ is not as pastel as the film version, but it will probably show up better in the finished costume photos.
For the center panel of the bodice, I am layering pale peach voile over champagne colored Bemberg rayon lining. This panel has pintucks going down it and shell buttons for decorative purposes only (as it closes down the back).
With the main fabrics decided on, I have now chosen to use an Edwardian point
d’Alencon lace from my collection for the wide lace piece that travels from the
waist in front to a curved mock-collar in back, then back to the other side of
the waist in front. This lace is not exactly as “handmade” as the almost chunky crocheted style lace on Diana’s, but it was the closest piece I could find to suit the circular shape of the collar in back. Besides that, it was actually handed down from the Edwardian era, so this lace may have been worn on a dress very similar to this around 1900!
I have so many exciting details to share in the weeks ahead, and I will be posting regular updates to keep you informed on my progress. I would love for you to follow along with the construction of this gown, and you are welcome to add this button to your blog if you’d like to share.
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I have dreamed for years of recreating an Anne of Avonlea costume, so you can be sure I will go “all out” with the photo shoot on this one!
P.S. All Anne of Avonlea stills are copyright by Sullivan Entertainment. If you choose to download these to share, please do provide a link back to www.edelweisspatterns.com since I did take all the film stills myself. Thank you!