This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun, most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, and a representative of the San Diego History Center. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Two Fashion Shows and a Costume Parade

Since I last posted, I’ve been in two fashion shows and a costume parade, which technically could be called a fashion show too. My costumes are mostly repeats and I’m happy to get more use out of them. And there’s soooo many people out there to show them off to. In the meantime I’m learning more about being in fashion shows and also running them. Stayed tuned because I have plans of writing a little more extensive post on doing all that and hopefully others can use the same information for theirs.

On March 22 I was in my 4th fashion show in Port Townsend, WA during the Victorian Festival. The Festival is an annual fund raiser for their historical society, and the money raised from the fashion show goes to a student scholarship. They mostly have a series of events inside buildings but there are some tours around town too. It’s not a street fair-type event. I always enjoy working with these ladies and we’ve been pulling in new models each year from the various costume groups and I think it’s getting better each time.

The Festival theme was historical/military and all I could come up with was my 1896 Seaside gown for that. Due to still getting over the flu, & having a death in the family shortly before I was flying up there, I would have been happy with only having to deal with one costume. But the director begged me to wear a second gown so I threw in my 1875 Green Tartan bustle gown at the last minute. I decided this would give me an option of having something warm to wear if the cotton gown would send chills through me.
I always enjoy taking photos backstage while we’re getting ready, and this year was no exception.


*NOTE TO SELF: You know how to take “selfie” photos and you never get in these, so start taking selfies.*
My friend Marilyn sat in the front row with my Mom and took some really nice photos of everyone but it was hard because many didn’t stand still long enough for a good photo.
I had a major foopah just before the show. While I was out and about in town shopping in my green Tartan gown, my train got caught on a door hinge as I went out the door of one shop and it ripped the side seam out and pulled all the ties loose that were holding up my bustle and train. *sob* So while I was getting ready in the dressing room, everyone came to the rescue with safety pins, and Julie even had a sewing kit. So we got me pinned back together just in time and no one knew the difference. I was planning on taking my hat off to show how I made it, so while the narrator was speaking I pulled out my hat pin ahead of time so I could be ready. Except when I looked down, my hat slid forward off my head. That dress was just not having a good day.

My next outfit, the 1896 Seaside dress, went off without a hitch, and it’s by far my favorite. I ended up wearing it the next day too while doing the tour of the historic buildings with my friends, Linda and Joanie. Linda, who used to be a member of our San Diego Costume Guild, and now lives in Colorado, had come up here with her hubby and they were both in the fashion show too.             

 We did something new this year and everyone came out at the end to have some group photos on the stage. That’s not as easy as it sounds getting everyone settled down and not moving.

Back home in California, next up was the fashion show at the Chula Vista Women’s Club on April 5. This was a smaller venue and was all members of our SD Costume Guild who were in it. I can’t find any photos of the building but it’s an old Spanish style building. I was the backstage manager for this show, along with being a model. And being crazy once again, 6 of us were wearing two costumes.  
We were served a nice lunch with all the guests prior to the show, and then we headed backstage to change. And of course I took “in-progress” photos.


Now here’s a funny part, and I actually caught it in a mirror shot of one of the photos I took and cropped out. As Backstage Manager I was making sure everyone was dressed and ready to go, and was walking around taking photos. Then Cindy said “where is your hat? Where’s your wig?”  :O  I was so busy with everyone else; I’d gotten dressed but forgotten that. 

You can also see my Line Up list posted on the mirror of each person so they can see what position they are and what they’re supposed to be wearing. I also drew a quick map of our route on the stage and onto the main floor and exit.
I wore my 1896 Seaside gown first, then Cindy and I both wore our “matching” 1875 Tartan gowns as the finale and did “twinsey” stuff on stage. That was a lot of fun, and a different way to end the show.
We saw lots of people taking our photos and handed our cards out in hopes of getting some but so far all we’ve gotten are these two of our final line-up after the show.

Edited to add: Just got a couple more photos of me, and Cindy and I from the show. And you get a good view of the interior of the room.  


And finally, April 13 was our English Authors & Characters Parade at Balboa Park in San Diego.
This was kind of a repeat of what we did last year during their House of England Day at the International Cottages when we “crashed” their event dressed as English authors or characters from their books. We had our picnic prior to it and then paraded around their central lawn area, and then were asked to also walk across the stage during another event going on at the Organ Pavilion. This year we were actually invited to be part of it and to have a costume parade onstage at the lawn party.
We each wrote a short description of our character for them to read to the audience. Some of them were groups of characters from one book, others were just individuals.  My character was Jane Eyre and I wrote:  “Author Charlotte Bronte introduced us to her heroine, Jane Eyre, in her book by the same name. The book is part fairytale, part Gothic horror, and part love story.  Jane was an orphan and was sent to a strict boarding school by her uncaring relatives. There she grew up with strong moral values and intelligent learning, although she lived in poverty. She brought herself up to be a governess in a great house, and later a teacher. In Bronte’s book, Jane also fell in love with her employer, Edward Rochester, but soon realizes that both he and his dark shadowy mansion hide a terrible secret. But you’ll have to read the book to find out what happened. “ My original plans were to make a new 1840s dress for this but what with everything that was going on, I had to fall back on my 1830s dress I'd worn at Dickens. 
This photo was funny because Jerry Abuan caught us right after I had rubbed the White Rabbit’s fluffy white tail in front of me and he felt it.

I’d bought an oversized paperback copy of Jane Eyre to carry and identify myself with. My intent was to find a young lady around age 13-15 who maybe showed some interest in my character and give the book to her. I also inscribed the front page of it about this event.   
After our parade onstage we were all wandering back to the House of England building and I was looking around for a young girl. I spotted one walking down the walkway with her father and went over to them. I asked her father if his daughter liked to read. She was nodding and he said she loves to read, we were just heading over to the library. I then noticed that she was a Down’s child. I told her I wanted to give her my book of Jane Eyre and hoped she would enjoy reading it. I opened the book up and showed her the inscription. “Given to you at the House of England Day and our English Authors & Characters Parade by Miss Jane Eyre (portrayed by Val LaBore of the San Diego Costume Guild) in hopes that you enjoy reading it.” 
Her father read it to her and she smiled at me. He then asked if he could take our photo, and I said yes please, and could you send it to me?   Today I received that photo and finally am able to finish this entry.

  Now I have a two week rest before the next two fashion shows in May.       ~~Val~~

  See more of Jerry’s photos of the event