Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on January 27, 2013
Georgiana Darcy’s Pink Regency Gown – A “Recycled” Movie Costume
As I’m sure you can imagine, I have been most busy sewing Regency things the last couple of weeks. Even though my trip to England for the Jane Austen Festival is not for another eight months, I still want to start well in advance to have plenty of time to sew everything! A couple of weeks ago I went out and bought yards of silk, English netting lace, tulle, and luxurious satin ribbon to create a resplendent Regency ball gown. This gown is coming along splendidly, and I am sewing it entirely by hand which means that I’ve already put close to thirty hours of sewing into the project. I’m using loads of pearls to embellish the bodice and sleeves, and I hope it will be the most gorgeous Regency gown I’ve ever made!
But of course I do need to make some day dresses as well, especially for the Jane Austen Promenade. I am wavering between wearing one of Jennifer Ehle’s/Elizabeth Bennet’s day dress/spencer combinations, (which are all rather plain), or making something more smashing which won’t get quite so “lost” in the crowd of 500 people decked out in Regency attire. Don’t worry, I will definitely be sewing another Elizabeth Bennet costume reproduction for the trip either way, but I think that for the Promenade in Bath I’ll want to wear something just a little prettier. So that leads me to the point – I have long admired one of Georgiana Darcy’s exquisite outfits from the 1995 Pride & Prejudice, but last night while watching BBC’s 2009 version of Emma, I suddenly realized, “Oh my goodness! Mrs. Elton is wearing the exact rose pink dress that Georgiana wore for that short scene in Pride & Prejudice!”
“Recycled” Movie Costumes
In recent years a number of costume fans have noticed that BBC’s “Jane Austen” adaptions all seem to re-use the same costumes at one point or another. Hats, overcoats, and dresses are frequently re-used by costume designers over and over again. I read one article by period costumer Sandy Powell who noted that her hardest job as costume designer is trying to stay within the production’s budget regulations. This explains why they would pull from the same costume wardrobe over and over again, but it does not excuse it (not to me, at least!). : )
But whatever the case, I’m sure you will recall which pink outfit I am talking about – remember when the Bingleys are leaving Netherfield and Miss Bingley writes the letter to Jane? Right when Jane is reading this letter, we see a short glimpse of the Bingleys and Darcys in London where Georgiana Darcy says, “Charles!” to Mr. Bingley. It is probably only a ten second snapshot, but every time I’ve watched it I have wished I could see more of Georgiana’s lovely gown.
The outfit is made of a rosy pink textured silk (almost like a fine brocade), and has wide collar tabs that open up and are buttoned down on the bodice front. There are white tabs which fold over the top of the pink material, and an upstanding collar of lace gives Georgiana a very regal look. The long sleeves are slightly curved at the faced hemline, and close with self-covered buttons.
There are short, puffed sleeves over the long, fitted sleeves, and the bottom edge of the short sleeves are trimmed with what appears to be ribbon bows.
Mrs. Elton from Emma
So fast-forward 14 years in real life, and this costume was apparently re-used for the production of Emma! The first thing that struck me was how vibrant the rosy color was in BBC’s 2009 Emma, while the scene that it was used for in Pride & Prejudice was generally more pale and almost washed out. Apparently the lighting must have been quite a bit different, but this makes sense as Mrs. Elton’s outfit in Emma was shot in striking natural light. In fact, the scene begins outside in the sunshine and then continues to an indoor parlor which had a large amount of windows letting the outdoor light inside. Secondly, it appears that the upstanding lace collar was folded down for Mrs. Elton, but it looks like it is still very much there!
This scene shows the exact same cut of the pelisse, fit of the sleeves, and ribbon trim detail at the short sleeves’ hem.
Just like Pride & Prejudice shows, only the lowest three collar tabs are buttoned, while there are no buttons on the tabs above this point. It appears that Mrs. Elton has the same flower trim at the middle of the lacy neckline that Georgiana Darcy has as well.
The only thing which appears to be altered is that Mrs. Elton’s pink collar tabs are trimmed with ruffled white narrow lace all the way around the tabs. It doesn’t look like this lace was in place when Miss Darcy wore the outfit fourteen years earlier, so I’m assuming that the costume designer added that detail specifically for the production of Emma.
Whether you view the 1995 version or the 2009 version, this costume is one of the loveliest Regency film costumes ever! I think it’s really gorgeous!
So why did I get so excited about this costume? Well, besides the fact that I have always admired Miss Darcy’s entire wardrobe and had always wanted to see more details of her lovely pink day dress, I was more particularly excited because a nearby fabric store has a couple bolts of a nearly identical fabric… I’ve been eying the material for some time, but didn’t want to buy any unless I had a specific project that really called for the material. I’m afraid the fabric is closer in hue to the more pastel pink shown in Pride & Prejudice, but since I would like to wear an exact movie costume replica and since Georgiana Darcy has one of my favorite wardrobes, I think it would make sense to reconstruct the costume exactly as the 1995 Pride & Prejudice portrays!
Does anyone have any thoughts on wearing this costume for the Jane Austen Festival Promenade? I wanted to wear something that would really stand out a bit more, (perhaps a brightly colored silk spencer with an ivory gown), but then I did want to go “in character” as someone for Pride & Prejudice since this year marks P&P’s 200th anniversary! However, since Georgiana’s outfit was worn for such a short sequence I’m not sure that anyone would instantly recognize her costume from the film unless they were as big a costume fan as I am!
The only reason I can think of to not make this costume is that the ballgown I’m making to wear is a very similar shade of peachy-pink silk, and I wouldn’t like the idea of wearing a light pink outfit during the day and a light peach ballgown in the evening – since I so rarely get to dress up in Regency finery, I kind of wanted a little more variety in my wardrobe for the Jane Austen Festival. It would be rather sad to only wear the same color the whole entire day, but on the other hand, I have always wanted to recreate Georgiana’s pink gown with the upstanding collar – in fact, when I was planning for my trip to England in 2009 I almost decided to recreate it instead of Elizabeth Bennet’s outfit! What do you think? I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter, since I have too many Regency outfits on my mind right now. : )
~ Oh yes, and after quite a bit of research I found it confirmed on the official IMDB entry for Emma that this costume was indeed re-used from Pride & Prejudice – so it’s not just my fond imagination. : ) ~