Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pompeian Dress...

Wall Painting: Figure of a girl

So I've been wanting an aqua Roman dress thanks to the lovely ladies depicted in various wall paintings of Pompeii in the book my lovely Wifey sent me about a month ago.  The book is titled Pompeii AD 79 Pompeii and the Exhibition: Volume I.  It's copyright 1978 by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and was, obviously, intended to accompany an exhibit of Pompeian artifacts in the 70's.  The book includes a large variety of wall paintings, discusses the different styles of wall painting, architecture, history, entertainment and various aspects of Roman life that I haven't really read much of.

I'm interested in the pretty pictures.

That's what I look for in any book on history, the pretty pictures.  I minored in Art History, but that's really just so I could look at the pictures and create costumes.  I noticed aqua was a rather common color in the wall paintings for women's dresses.  And as I mentioned before I just happened to have a large piece of pretty textured aqua cotton.  So now I have to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to be making.

Wall Painting: Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur
The dresses are obviously pretty simple.  The common belief is that all these garments are constructed from simple rectangles, front and back.  I dislike the way two rectangles of the same size drape in the back, because it allows the back neckline to be as deep as the front.  Such a large neckline can cause the shoulders to slip off, like the woman in aqua in the painting of Theseus.

If they are both rather shallow, like the above figure of a girl or the woman in aqua in the painting of Europa, you don't have to worry about slippage, but I like having a deeper neckline, as I have a weird twitchiness about things touching my neck.  I don't think it's completely inappropriate, though I do like them deeper than most period imagery.  (thus the Creative part of my hobby)

Wall Painting: Europa riding the Bull
So I'm trying to decide what I want the dress to look like.  The figure of a girl is a high necked, sleeveless dress.  Due to the damage of image, it's hard to tell if the dress is belted or not.  She's thought to be engaged in some kind of religious ceremony, but it's unclear what her marital status would be.

The woman in aqua in the Theseus painting has a deep necked, sleeved dress. Her sleeves appear to have been made from a separate rectangle sewn into her garment. The little boy in front of her certainly has separate sleeves.  The alternative to separate sleeves is to make the shoulder seam extend down the arm to the elbow and create a draped sleeve by belting the garment at the waist. Her arm obscures any belt she might be wearing.  It's interesting to note that the women on the right are supposed to be future victims of the Minotaur, and would all be virgins, and thus unmarried women.

The woman in aqua in the Europa painting (not Europa, I'm not that daring!) wears a high necked dress, unbelted, that drapes into sleeves.  She also has a teal colored wrap over her right arm.  The three ladies are handmaidens to Europa, daughter of the King of Phoenicia.  (also, how luscious is that purple color on the handmaid fondling the bull?)

Wall Painting: Pan and the Nymphs
The women in the painting of Pan are supposed to represent  nymphs.  The aqua garment of the woman on the right isn't a dress, but a wrap called a palla.  I love the darker colored borders on the palla, which reminds me of the borders on a sari.  It's an excellent excuse for me to keep wearing saris as a palla!

So what do I want out of this dress?  I think I'd like to do a simple one layer dress that I don't have to wear a tunica under.  A single layer is supposed to indicate that I'm not married, which I'm not, but my persona is, but I want the comfort and ease of a single layer for the summer.  That means I don't want to put in separate sleeves, because I would reduce my layering abilities.   The draped sleeve dress in Greece is called an Ionic chiton.  I can layer the Ionic over a tunica, or I can layer a stola over the Ionic in the future.

I think I want to do a single width of the fabric in the back and add more than one panel to the front in order to get the draped cowl style neck.  I'll make it longer than my shoulder to floor, so that when I belt it, it'll blouse a bit.  It should end up with elbow length "sleeves" and I can wrap a sari around it for a palla.

I should get to work then, now that I've worked out what I want it to look like!

1 comment:

  1. ...I need to cobble something together if I want to wear anything Roman to West War.