Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dressing Alice Illustrated: Agnes Richardson

Alice Illustrated in Agnes Richardson
Remember Alice Illustrated?  She's a new look to celebrate the work of Agnes Richardson!  While I don't usually change a wig just to share costuming, I had to make an exception here for continuity.  And, why not?  Alice Illustrated is a play doll, and she loves to model the lovely fashion styles Alice was dressed in over the years.

For Alice Illustrated's fourth Alice dress, I chose to dress her inspired by the utterly charming illustrations by Agnes Richardson.  Very little is known about this English artist, or at least has been documented.  I find this terribly sad, but the precious works she created for posters, postcards and children's books are her glorious legacy. 

Richardson's Reading to Alice
Agnes Richardson was born in 1885 in Wimbledon, London, and died in 1951.  The only information on her work I could find was that she illustrated posters for the Underground Group from 1912-1922.  She attended the Lambeth School of Art.  In 1923, Geographica Ltd, London, published her illustrated version of Alice in Wonderland. 

Among Friends
There are very few images from this book to be found on the Internet, but I do know of one person who has a copy of this book, Jean, and she shared some fabulous illustrations with me from her own copy.  This book is extremely rare, and difficult to find.  And, no wonder!  With the darling pixie-ish characters, very reminiscent of Grace Drayton's work, who could ever manage to give up their own treasured copy?

A full length view
When I first created Alice Illustrated from the 12" Wendy Lawton doll, I'd collected several fabrics to bring some of these lesser known illustrated dresses to life.  One of them was this blue and white striped silk taffeta.  In my continuing enjoyment and research of costuming, blue and white stripes seem to have been a favorite to dress both Alice and other children in.  They're bright, cheery, and classic.

The Pinny
It wasn't too much trouble to make this little frock for spring as I have a good base set of patterns for Alice Illustrated now.  I did have to design the collar (wretched collars!), and the "snowball" pinny, and also a new pair of slippers.  I call it "snowball", because essentially, its two rounds, one on top the other.  Well, more perhaps like a bowling pin.  Maybe we'll call it the "bowling pin" pinny since Alice did play a sort of ball with a hedgehog.

A goose rather than a flamingo!
A bodice redesigned with a slight V-neck was the base for the pointed collar.  Why do these collars never stay down?  Iron them as I might, they still flip up.  Her attached skirt is full, but not as short (above the knee), as the 1920's style Agnes' little Alice wears.  While I love this fabulous little wooden body, her legs seemed to request just a bit more modest length to the skirt.

The pinny is just that.  There wasn't a detected tie in the back on the illustrations, and also there was the absence of straps.  Hence, it would have been "pinned" to her bodice.  A pinny.  The pockets are round and gathered on the edge for a bit of fancy.  She wears a black, flapper style, headband of silk around her soft brown curls. 

Black Cross-Strap Slippers
I have a ton of little wigs in my stash so it was no problem finding a suitable one for the look of this outfit.  Her long blonde hair just wouldn't cut it with this dress, but it is tucked away with her growing "illustrated" wardrobe, so she will wear it again.

Alice Illustrated
The most fun in making this costume was in designing the shoes.  I guess I've made enough unusual shoes by now that I don't shy away from new styles.  Agnes Richardson's Alice wears a pair of black cross-strap slippers.  I did a little research on shoes from the 1920s and found some wonderful examples of the shoes little girls and ladies wore.  One thing I noticed was that they were fastened with buttons.  None were tied in back, ballet style, so I had to come up with a design that would have clean lines and the cross-strap look. 

The shoes are of black leather and are a basic slipper with a gently squared edge.  The strap is one long piece of thinly cut leather that begins on one side, the instep, crosses around and buttons on the side with a thread loop and a tiny two-holed bronze colored button.  She wears little white ankle socks to keep her feet warm.

1920's Child's Shoes
I couldn't help but add some interesting photos to this journal.  One is of a postcard Agnes illustrated with a little girl in similar stripes.  Can we assume this classic stripe was popular in the 1920's?  I think it may also be an easy fabric pattern to paint in illustrations.  I also recalled that my Tonner Alice, who is a 12" vinyl doll, was given a blue and white striped dress, so I dressed her in it and am sharing her portrait with you.

When I was researching the shoes, I saved off a pair of cross-strap child's shoes from the 20s, and also a very alluring pair of strappy flapper heels.

Tonner's Alice in Stripes
Please enjoy the final portrait of Alice Illustrated in Agnes Richardson's design.  I included a beautiful little book that can be purchased through Jean Nordquist, and the porcelain toy Humpty and Rabbit she made for me to display with my dolls.  She really is an amazing artist!

Welcome spring!

Miss E. Mouse

Agnes Richardson Postcard

I want a pair of these!

Alice Illustrated with Friends From Jean

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