I had an amazing time at the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild’s Last Dinner on the Titanic, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking on April 14, 2012. This costumed dinner & dance took place at the Bellevue Club in Oakland, CA.
Everyone was seated at tables of 10, & our group decided to portray real first-class passengers & talk about period topics. This was SO MUCH FUN! I was Miss Edith Rosenbaum, a fashion journalist living in Paris (I made up a story about borrowing my fabulously overdone jewels & tiara from that poor little Astor girl, so ill with morning sickness she just couldn’t come to the dining room, but we’d become friends when her maid saw my trunks of Poiret sample dresses I was taking back to New York — I gave one to the 18-year-old Mrs. Astor). Sarah was Mrs. Florence Cummings, & Francis was Mr. John Bradley Cummings, a New York stockbroker. Mrs. Cummings & I met in the ship’s hair salon on the first day aboard, that’s why we arrived at dinner together. Kendra was Miss Madeleine Newell & Jenny-Rose (visiting from Virginia) was her younger sister Marjorie, both ladies were returning from a grand tour that included Palestine & the Middle East — this explained Kendra’s gorgeous 1912 dress made from a green & gold sari. Loren (visiting from Southern California) was the couturier Lady Duff-Gordon, wearing one of her own designs, of course. Liam was Mr. Tyrell William Cavendish of England & Karen was his Chicago-born wife, Mrs. Julia Cavendish. Cathyn & Laina were Mr. & Mrs. Thorne, who were really Mr. George Rosenshine traveling with his mistress Miss Gertrude Thorne, but they assumed married names (shocking!).
We talked about everything from the latest fashions to world politics (women’s suffrage! George V’s coronation! Bolsheviks!) to the stock exchange to wonders of modern technology such as areoplanes & escalators. FAB-U-LOUS! And all it took was a quick flip through Wikipedia. Creating a tiny bit of historical context for historical costume really makes me the happiest nerd on the planet. And, of course, doing so in an utterly fantastic historical SETTING is the tastiest icing on a decadent cake. Yummy!
I wore a simple ensemble, consisting of a gown I bought from Victorian Trading Company with vintagey, plus a lot of jewelry (more details of the outfit here). I did my hair over large hair rats in a 1910s style, based on tips from this article Kendra wrote. My look was reasonably historically accurate, not perfectly, but I blended in well with the ambiance of the event.
Here are some of the photos taken by the event’s most excellent professional photographer, Richard Man: