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Wild Card Prize - Fabulous handstitched workmanship with subtle symbolism completely in keeping with the character and the period.
Madame de Tourvel
Outline the story …
I have always been fascinated by Madame de Tourvel in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. She is the epitome of piety and innocence until she reluctantly falls in love with the rakish and deceptive Vicomte de Valmont. He is relentless in his pursuit of her (with the worst of intentions), but when she falls for him, she falls deeply and feels the pain of love as it inflicts her "soul with mortal anguish." In the moments in the book when she gives into being "desperately in love," we see a side of Madame de Tourvel that leans into the deliciousness of a life in love, piety be damned.
As nothing ends well for any of the characters, I chose to sink into this moment when Valmont surrenders to his own game, and the two have a sincere, albeit fleeting, passionate love affair.
When I found the silk for this gown, I loved the shimmering blush of the two-toned weave. As I was cutting into it, the frayed edges of bright raspberry pink revealed themselves. I like to think that this passionate and ostentatious shade was lurking beneath the surface just like Madame de Tourvel's suppressed desires. So I made her a dress to wear during the peak of her affair with Valmont, the frayed edges of the trim unraveling as she surrenders to temptation.
Outline the construction…
This dress was completely hand sewn using 18th century historical techniques. I relied heavily on the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.
The dress is a silk dupioni and the bodice lining is a heavyweight linen. I used silk and linen thread. I constructed each piece of the bodice before joining them together. I made half inch pleats for the back of the dress, and used a basting stitch about an inch below the top of the pleats to hold them in place. The edges are folded down to help the skirt flare. The petticoat was pleated and whip stitched to a waist tape and it is tied around my waist under the gown.
The trim was inspired by the fabric and I am not sure if it is a historical method. I lined up the fabric and cut strips with pinking shears. I very slowly and gently pulled the threads from the edges to reveal a fringed pinked edge. I then folded the pieces in half and whip stitched them to create ruffles. There are over 10 yards of this trim on the dress, and I saved pictures and videos of the process in my Instagram highlights. It took me several days and a lot of patience. The sleeves were my first time doing a shaped sleeve with a dart, and I hope that one day the dart wizards bless me with more knowledge of those confounding angles. There's a reason they're called sleevils!