I am back from Costume College and it was incredibly fun! There were so many wonderful costumes I will have to put into a separate post. I still have a lot of laundry and unpacking, plus 600 photos to sort through, but here is a summary with my outfits. When I get the pictures from the professional photographer at CoCo I can make some more detailed posts about each ensemble.
I was there Thursday-Monday, and roomed with Natalie of Frolicking Frocks and Elizabeth, who works for Laughing Moon Patterns.
We left Natalie’s house in the morning and drove down to Woodland Hills. When we got to downtown LA we made a stop at the FIDM Museum, which was featuring a number of TV costumes and antique corsets. The highlight was the display of outfits from Downton Abbey, including several court presentation ballgowns such as Lady Rose’s Robe de Styles dress. The beautiful items were not behind glass, so we could examine them very closely! Unfortunately, photography was not allowed.
Arrival at the hotel was a madhouse. Hundreds of costumers were descending with their luggage, garment bags and hat boxes. Everyone had so much stuff. It was the first time in my life I needed to use a bellhop. I hope those guys made lots of tips that day!
That evening was the pool party, which was pretty casual. Some people dressed in costume, but there were a lot of tiki and cute retro outfits. It was dark outside, and I did not have my good camera with me, so here is a stock photo of my nautical anchor sheath dress from eShakti. I wore them with a red headband and red/white shoes.
For most of the day I wore a cream regency dress and my navy pelisse and bonnet, all of which I have posted previously.I attended the Freshmen Orientation, which was a nice informative class for first-timers that explained what to do and where to do it. Afterwards, I watched “18th Century Hairstyling Demo,” run by Kendra van Cleave of Demode. I haven’t had time to read my copy of her book yet, but it is filled with lots of lovely glossy pictures and step-by-step instructions. I received good advice to not completely fill my day with classes because the social aspect of CoCo is a major part of the fun, so I took a break for a few hours to eat and take pictures of beautiful costumes.
After lunch I took “Regency Bib-Front Dress,” taught by JoAnn Peterson of Laughing Moon. Elizabeth modeled a finished sample of the bib-front dress pattern, which looks so easy and comfortable to wear. There were also examples of several extant gowns that JoAnn brought to the class and let us examine!
After another snack break I took “How to Make Death’s Head Buttons” by Amy Lee Karow-Thara. We each received a button form, thread, needle and pin and made our own button while Amy demonstrated using a large dinner-plate sized wooden button and spool of yarn. (For a pin she used a giant hat pin with a ping-pong ball). It was a very useful class.
Friday night was the Ice Cream Social and I dressed up in 1830s Romantic, which I wore in April to the Gaskells Ball. I also reused the wig, and did not have time to restyle it. The pretzel shape on the top of my wig flopped over and exposed the peony on the back, but I think it looked intentional since Kendra was nice enough to say my hair looked “fabulous.” I wore American Duchess shoes and the purse is something my mom found in a gift shop.
Right after the ice cream social the marketplace opened up, and I went to look at things the vendors were selling. The vintage trims I acquired will be the subject of a future post.
Saturday I wore my WWII era All American Girls Baseball League uniform. There were 7 “Kenosha Comets” on our team. I made the dress and belt, and bought the hat, shoes and socks. I will post more details and group photos when we get our pictures!
On the second class day I went to “Hairpiece Basics: Crinoline Era,” taught by Bridget Bradley-Scaife and Lana Lily. This was a great class, full of practical and useful information. I am not good about styling my own hair (hence the wig for 1830s) so I liked seeing how the instructors were able to demo 5 hairstyles in an hour and a half. Like me, they also did not have particularly long hair themselves, and showed how to use your own hair mixed in with curled and braided hairpieces. I also got lots of recommendations on items to buy.
Next I went to “Early Victorian Corded Petticoats” by Jennifer Rosbrugh. She went over two basic methods of making corded petticoats and showed both modern and extant examples, which was nice. I took a lunch break before attending the “Ribbons, Who Would Have Thought” lecture by Candace Kling, a master ribbon artist. She had so many beautiful examples to show us, and it was a very enjoyable class.
Afterwards I changed and went out to the “red carpet” event, where I saw so many beautiful pieces that put my costume to shame. I wore an 18th century inspired ensemble of both new and old pieces that I will discuss later. The shoes and clocked stockings are from American Duchess.
Sunday morning was the “Belles and Beaux” breakfast, where we were instructed to wear undies and wrappers. I did not have time to make anything, so I am wearing a kimono-style bathrobe purchased from Amazon, a regency chemise, leather flats and a vintage beaded monkey necklace. The pockets in the robe were quite useful.
Afterwards we lined up for the Bargain Basement, which was a garage sale of donated items benefiting the CoCo Scholarship fund. I got some ivory and striped silk, and some yellow dotted trim I will use for my next Gatsby dress.
I went back to my room for a nap before going to “Can You Really Do That to Shoes” by Margot Silk Forrest. The class focused on painting modern shoes, not embellishing historical shoes, but I did get a few useful tips. I was supposed to take “Make a Pair of Mechanical Wings” Sunday morning, but the class got cancelled.
For the afternoon Fantasy Tea, which was themed “Ascot Ladies Day,” I wore my 1920s outfit. I made the dress, slip, hat and purse and purchased other accessories. (Close-ups in a future post).
The tea party was a lot of fun, with decent food. I have had better tea food, but overall it was still worth the ticket for the atmosphere.
After the party I went to my last class. I did not originally intend to take “How to Teach at Costume College” because I am not an expert in anything, but some friends were taking it, and it was nice to see what happens “behind the scenes,” and how they pick classes.
I changed into another casual dress from eShakti for a pizza party in someone’s room, where we discussed our costuming plans for next year, before packing and going to bed.
Monday check-out was again a madhouse of costumers and luggage, but we were on the road by 10. On the way home we stopped for lunch and peeked into an antique shop and candy store nearby. Natalie found a charming box of antique pins in paper wrappers in excellent condition, and I got a coffin-shaped tin of mints.
More CoCo posts to come: other costumes, purchases, next year’s themes, my outfit details.
I am so excited for next year!