How and why were Egyptian influences and styles interpreted for use in costumes worn at fancy dress balls during the late 19th and early 20th century?
(2014) How and why were Egyptian influences and styles interpreted for use in costumes worn at fancy dress balls during the late 19th and early 20th century?, no. 30.
This project investigates the ways in which eastern influences, particularly how those of the ancient Egyptian culture were interpreted and combined with late Victorian and early Edwardian fashions to create costumes for ladies attending fancy dress balls around this time. Through examination and analysis of existing historical evidence in the form of fashion plates and photographs from costume balls, the essay uncovers the motivations and incentives behind fancy dress costume at the time and tries to establish an understanding of the practice in its historical context. The study finds that historical accuracy was an important aspect of these designs, but was in direct competition with current fashions and attitudes of the time. A balance had to be struck to create a hybrid costume which simultaneously showcased knowledge of ancient Egyptian culture and appeared exotic, while maintaining a respectable and noble appearance. It has found that dressing in costume was not just for simple amusement but was heavily linked with the social, historical and cultural issues of the time. This knowledge is then demonstrated by the designing and making of my own costume which serves as a visual representation of my findings. This takes the form of an essay, a supporting research sketchbook, a costume design and a full costume designed to be worn by a lady dressing up as Cleopatra VII of Egypt to a costumed ball around the year 1905. This costume, in certain aspects, is designed in keeping with early Edwardian European values, but in colour scheme, decorations and other design aspects is strongly Egyptian.