Blooming fancy dress
Let’s talk about fancy dress, as Hallowe’en starts to rear its warty fake-bloodied head. Those of us frantically searching for an inventive and beautiful costume which doesn’t involve vampires, witches or cats might care to consider these gorgeous illustrations from an early Victorian French book called Les fleurs animees by J. J. Grandville. The ‘flowers personified’ include the spiky Thistle, above, and sociable Tea and Coffee, below:
Ok, so perhaps it might be just a little time consuming to engineer one of these costumes, but wouldn’t it an amazing project?And you’ve got a whole month! Which is plenty of time to turn yourself into a wary Hawthorn, below:
(All this reminds me of school plays when I was very young, in which I remember embracing various extremely challenging (and blessedly non-verbal) roles of a Tree, a Sunbeam, and… ahem… a Blade of Grass.)
The Victorians rocked at fancy dress- especially anything that was allegorical rather than a direct representation. They were very good at dressing up as concepts such as Music, Spring, Night, etc. This was possibly due to the wide artistic licence these ideas afforded- after all, Victorian fancy dress was generally all about enhancing one’s own natural charms and looking as stunning as possible. The thought of transforming yourself into a Witch with warts and mad hair and blackened teeth etc etc would surely have been anathema to a Victorian lady!
Instead, the wistful beauty might have made a good Pansy, while the more regal might consider being a Tulip (both below):
Read both volumes of this book (and a host of other books) over at Botanicus, a freely accessible portal to historic botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library. There are many many more images of flower maidens too numerous for me to show here, and you can download them in large format.
All images courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden: http://www.botanicus.org