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Entries in fairy-tale (32)


An Absolute Blast!

Eeeek! It’s getting close to that time of year! Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the big Christmas costume party at my workplace. Every year there is a different theme, and every year everyone goes all out – I work at a theatre, so everyone is on their mettle, and the pressure is on.

This year the theme is the 1980s, inspired by our final play of the year which is set in the 80s. But I can’t reveal what I’m going as this year (no spoilers!) so instead I shall relive my day of glory as Barbarella, for which I won an award in 2013.

The theme was the 1960s (not to be confused with last year’s science-fiction theme when I went as the Queen of Naboo), and I quickly chose Barbarella for a character. It was more difficult to choose the costume, not because there were so many, but because they were so skimpy and NSFW!

The picture above was my inspiration, partly because I already owned a silver metal mesh top (of course I do), and I set about obtaining the other accoutrements, including a black mesh body-stocking (which made it difficult to go to the bathroom), skirt, boots, and wig, all bought on eBay, and last but not least, a laser-blaster. I made that myself from a giant toy water-gun. (My cousin, who I am with in the third photo of the slideshow) went as Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s classic film, The Birds.)

When you scroll down below, you will see my cousin and I pulling the obligatory faces (starting with some Blue Steel) for a photobooth strip – we did have an absolute blast!

Photos: December 2013


Queen of Sherbrooke Forest

The historical depiction of Maid Marian’s persona has varied greatly over the centuries, and it was in the sixteenth that Marian, as the consort of Robin Hood, first became associated with May Day celebrations. Most of the time Marian is a noblewoman who falls in love with an outlaw, and her character is largely marginal until the twentieth century, except for a few instances.

It is the poet and playwright Ben Jonson in his unfinished piece from 1641 The Sad Shepherd who first proposes a truly energetic character of dynamism and will than merely an image of idealised womanhood: his Marian hunts in the forest, and is for the first time fully a lover (to Robin).

I can find no record of the origin of this illustrated plate, but by its style it is from the Regency period in England, and is probably a costume design for a play A nineteenth century engraving from Thomas Love Peacock’s novella, Maid Marian, published in 1819; very likely inspired in part by Mary Shelley. [Image link broken]Stephen Knight in his essay on the historical representation of Maid Marian says of Johnson’s depiction: The vigorous real Marian does ultimately defer to Robin's authority, both aristocratic and male, but she is also represented as having real agency, including physical and gendered power. Jonson's sense of Lady Marian's potential power will take centuries to re-emerge …

Knight also states in his introduction: Marian is, it appears, primarily invoked by the gender-related concerns of the social environment in which she appears: she does not resist authority so much as represent a changing alternative to it. In the last few decades her character has steadily grown. As a teen, I remember loving the mid-80s television series Robin of Sherwood, and recall Judi Trott’s Marian as being active and competent. I see on IMDb that there is a new version scheduled for release next year – it will be interesting to see what kind of Maid Marian Eve Hewson makes.

Enid Bennet plays Lady Marian Fitzwalter opposite Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922)Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, in the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood, also starring Errol FlynnMy (rather stern) Maid Marian was initially inspired by the discovery of a pair of Ralph Lauren suede trousers in an op shop, and a green silk embroidered tunic cut on medieval peasant blouse lines. I’m also wearing a vintage 1940s feathered hat, a wooden bead necklace and a pair of modern green patent leather sling-backs, not very suitable attire for a Marian tramping through Sherbrooke Forest, in the local Mt Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne! The Maid Marian of legend of course made Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire her home, and the similarity in names is very amusing.

My personal favourite: Judi Trott as Maid Marian in the tv series Robin of Sherwood, which played from 1984–86; sadly the fourth and final series was never made due to finance issues. [Image from Pinterest]If you’re keen to know more about the 700 year history of Robin Hood and, in particular, Maid Marian’s role over the centuries, visit The Robin Hood Project to read Stephen Knight’s full essay. Though long, it is very interesting, easy to read and rewarding. A shorter article at Wikiwand offers as well a detailed breakdown of literature, television and movie versions of the story.

Photo: January 2017


Christmas Cheers

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a jolly giant with dark brown curls. He wears a fur-trimmed green coat, a wreath of holly and icicles on his head, and carries a torch that looks like a cornucopia. He sprinkles warmth and good cheer from it in his travels to and from all the festivities. A feast appears also wherever he goes. (Today I managed to do that too!)

It was a scorching day in Melbourne, with a temperature of 36°C, so I certainly wasn’t going to wear a fur-trimmed cloak. Instead I have a skirt and top that both tie with big bows at the back, and my wreath is of velvet leaves. I also carried a vintage green umbrella as my sunscreen – it’s sort of the antithesis of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s torch! But everything is a bit upside down in the Antipodes.

My family and I – all 27 of us – had a lovely day; I hope you do (or have done) too. Cheers!

Photo: Today


The Golden Mean

Most Aussies did not grow up in the tradition of celebrating Halloween, but the holiday is growing in popularity in recent years – mostly, it seems to me, through parties for young adults who simply love to dress up, (at least, I don’t live in the suburbs, so I don’t know if kids are trick or treating).

I’d forgotten about these Hipstamatic photos I took a few years ago while playing dress-up myself. I’m not sure who or what exactly I am trying to evoke, but they seem to fit the evening’s theme. That golden mask is scary looking in its impassive anonymity! And you can just imagine the ominous flutter of black wings hovering over you in your last moments of life …

Do be careful, and enjoy your All Hallow’s Eve … Ooooooo!

Photos: May 2013


Alice Wore Blue

An interesting and surprising history lies behind the colour Alice blue. As the name might suggest, it is linked to the title character of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and her iconic blue dress. But there is also another Alice who gave her name to a shade of blue: the daughter of Theodore Roosevelt who loved a very pale tint of azure, and who sparked a craze in America. But this shade of blue is quite different to that of the fairytale Alice, being a very pale icy shade.

An online search on ‘Alice blue’ will turn up varying shades of light- to mid-blue of warm and cool shades; comparing them to an original illustration from 1927, a mid-tone certainly is correct, but the shade hovers on a fine line between warm and cool.

One early illustration drawn by Tenniel and approved by Carroll himself shows Alice wearing a red dress.

John Macfarlane recoloured Tenniel’s illustrations for the 1927 Macmillan Children’s Edition, maintaining Alice in a blue dress but with a red trim to her apron.The first editions of Alice in Wonderland featured no coloured illustrations – it was rather associated products that were printed with chromolithography. One early example was the cover of pianoforte sheet music: the illustration was drawn by Tenniel, approved by Carroll himself, and shows Alice wearing a red dress. 

After this came a yellow dress, and then finally the famous blue dress appeared in 1903. Alice wears a blue dress and headband, white apron with yellow trimmings and yellow striped stockings. In 1907 Alice is back to red again, and it is not until 1911 that Alice dons blue once more.

Tenniel’s eyesight was failing by this time, and Harry G. Theaker was commissioned to colour Tenniel’s illustrations. The blue Theaker chose for Alice’s dress, with a white apron and blue striped stockings established the iconic colour that was later also adopted by Walt Disney. Over a hundred years later, it’s hard to imagine Alice could ever have worn another colour.

Fashion Notes

I am wearing a vintage 1950s dress I bought last summer in a thrft store. It is actually my second least favourite era for clothing (I dislike the 1960s the most), but I really like the simplicity of the cut of this dress, the fitted waist, the pleats, and the fabric has a lovely swishy weight to it. The lack of embellishment makes the dress seem quite modern, yet it would be perfect for an Alice costume too.

Photos: April 2016

Modern and vintage inspirations

Mia Waskikowska as Tim Burton’s Alice. I loved the multiple versions of her blue dress!Alice Blue chocolates! Darling vintage 1940s packaging from SIP of Sarsaparilla on Etsy.A very pretty Alice blue tea set from Fox Mirror Vintage on EtsyTriple layer lace and chiffon Octopus Infinity wrap wedding gown from Coralie Beatrix, on EtsyLilly Dache ‘Lilly's Dillys’ cocktail hat, 1960 from Etsy store Frou Frou 4 You YouThis is what I think of as a true Alice shade of blue; a sterling silver and stone pendant necklace from Etsy's The Bonny Boutique