“When I came out into society I was 15. I already knew that the role I was condemned to, namely to keep quiet and do what I was told, gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe. Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest, but to whatever it was they were trying to hide. I practiced detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand. I became a virtuoso of deceit. It wasn’t pleasure I was afer, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear, philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists to see what I could get away with, and in the end, I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die.”
This dress was originally designed for the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons by costume designer James Acheson. It was worn on Mildred Natwick as Madame de Rosamonde. Apparently the fabric for the dress was specially printed for the film, and was modeled after an 18th Century wallpaper. Remainders of the printed fabric went on later to be used for the Queen Mother’s costume for Act 1 of the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake.
This gown has been used many times since, including the 1991 mini-series Clarissa, where it was worn on Cathryn Harrison as Mrs.Sinclair. It was seen on extras in 1994 in The Madeness of King George, in 1995 in Jefferson in Paris, and then in 1997 in Dance to the Music of Time.
The gown is in remarkable
condition considering how old it is and how many times it has been used. For several years the gown was
part of the Fashion In Film Exhibit that toured across the country. You can learn more about the exhibit and see more photos at The Costumers Guide.
Costume Credit: Anna, Katie S., Shrewsbury Lasses, James