"No Lace!"

"No lace, Mrs. Bennet, I beg you!"

I blame this bit of fun on Rachel. A lot of my blogging fun can be blamed on Rachel. I don't know how she feels about that. I dare say in a year or two she'll have got over it tolerably. For her story The Scarlet-Gypsy Song she charted out clothing styles, as her story is a fantasy set in another world. I know that makes it sound terribly cliche, but her story has a lovely quirk and twist to it which gives it a fresh dimension. Abigail did this sort of post likewise in "Let Us Be Elegant or Die," and while I am pretty poor sport at coming up with original clothing, I thought I, too, might regale you with the trendy fashions of Plenilune. My post from last August, "What a Deal of Starch!", gives you a peek into my general views on clothing. Now I want to be specific and (Megan) alleviate a tiny bit of the mystery that seems to surround Plenilune.

The woman sat foremost among those in the orchestra, and in her pomp and quiet, smothering splendour, Margaret knew she was only gracing their company: she belonged among the lords and ladies. Her hair was caught up with pins of blue amber—which the light behind her was making into a furious cluster of fractalled flame—but if it had been let down it would have been long and tawny-striped like honey and a tiger’s coat, and Margaret almost hated her for the beauty of it. She was in a gown of peacock-blue, the same colour as the drenched night blue outside the windows, and her gown was chased over and over very heavily by gold threads, as if the golden harp-strings of her instrument were tied to her, and she to it—and when she glanced up across the audience from attending to her harp and the light of the chandeliers illumined the look in her eyes, Margaret was certain of it.

Throughout the different Honours of Plenilune and the varying tastes of peoples and individuals, there is one common element. The society of Plenilune likes to put on a show. They breathe heavily with pomp and splendour, colour, jewels, metals. They like to look good. Even FitzDraco of Orzelon-gang, whose most lavish colour is a hunter green, sports a heavy ring with an equally heavy aquamarine stone which (legend has it, and he has not stirred himself to debunk the legend) will turn hot-white when the wearer is righteous in fury. Even those who wear black as a habit (and there are a few), they have a way of wearing black as if they wore the very void of the universe. No matter what they wear, they wear it with style.

They like velvet. Nothing purrs quite like velvet. It can be light or heavy, solid or printed, and it has just the amount of easy pretension the Plenilune elite like to wear. This is ideal for late autumn, winter, and early spring, of course, but you can wear it in the warmer months if it is handled delicately. Furs too, furs are a splendid accessory - horsehair and fawnskin are very light and typically worn by the ladies, panther-skins are very rare and greatly admired. You are not likely to find any English floral prints in the crowd: Plenilune prints tend to be heavily organic, particularly those influenced by the nomadic antipodes, which take embroidery and brocade to a whole new level of intricate. They are almost alarmingly lackadaisical about where normal people put gems and will set them in almost anything, so long as the setting is grand enough for the jewel. Their love of bold colours is rivalled only by the nomadic peoples, who don't believe in darkening or muting and aren't the best judges of which colours ought to go together, and which oughtn't. Plenilune society may love its overwhelming show, but it is always classy about it.

And throw in some feathers! - in a lady's hair, on a lady's dress, on a masque, on the cord of a doublet-tie - make a peacock jealous! Swan, grouse, pheasant, raven, blue-jay, cardinal - anything with a plumage to show will be plucked and wind up sported at a Plenilune social gathering. Conversely, they may be particular about their cloths, but they aren't selective about their gems. If it cuts well and throws a good shine, they don't mind if it is "precious" or not.

This is all very minute. In general Plenilune style could be described as medieval hurled very hard at Victorian, and Victorian coming out the worse for it. You will not spot pantaloons anywhere (thank goodness), but trousers, though you will find variations of the doublet used with extreme flippancy. Dresses tend to be close-fitting and layered under the skirts; necklines vary with taste. Buttoned coats are not uncommon, especially among hunting paraphernalia. Hats are, however, almost unheard-of. Hoods are used for inclement weather and a woman might wrap a light shawl over her head, but it is a mark of dignity (among those who care to think about it this deeply) to go about bare-headed. And something they all wear, which cannot be cut out of stone or cloth, is that sense of dignity, of potency, of splendour and the splendour of humanity of which their heavy embroidery and rich clothing are only the bare fringes.

When I said it was like a crazy tapestry of colour and action, I was not joking. It is a giddy business, trying to write all this, and not unlike inducing a constant fever in my brain and vision. What a people to be hurled among after living twenty years in anemic, industrial, Victorian England!

She could not remember England very well, though that might have been only because her vision was running riot with whirling colours, peacocks’ feathers, light, movement, and music. All she could remember was a broken sense of hoary discontentment, a sense of living drudgery, of fighting against small, insignificant shadows of things—when here in Plenilune lived and walked the sharp-edged real things of a higher plane: the gods and demons in their palaces, dancing together on the eve of winter.

9 ripostes:

  1. I MUST read Plenilune. Even your descriptions of clothing are brilliant!!!
    Absolutely gorgeous; I wish I could dress like your Elite. :)
    ~ Mirriam

  2. "In general Plenilune style could be described as medieval hurled very hard at Victorian, and Victorian coming out the worse for it." That line is simply delightful, Jenny. Really, this entire post is delightful: it must be, to have me so thrilled over clothing styles. :P (I'll have to show it to my sister -- she already adores fashion and high-quality fantasy, so she'll be in her element.)

    I like how going about hatlessness is a mark of dignity. It's unusual, but it fits perfectly with what I already know of your story. And it must be intensely confusing to someone used to the customs of Victorian England. Also, velvet. VELVET. Mmmm.

    Now I want to attend one of these famous Social Gatherings. You must remember to take me to one after you show me Lookinglass. ;)

  3. Just out of interest, what do you mean when you say "trousers"? The way it is written here sounds as if it is something peculiar to a period, but in the U.K it just means your bottom half that happens not to be a skirt or a pair of shorts- jeans are trousers, for example, and I'd consider pantaloons as trousers.
    Fashions in England are strange at the moment. Everyone's wearing brogues, bobby socks, bright, floppy hair ribbons and these massive Navajo style blankets as shawls. It's amazing how periods of History get chucked together in fashion- I personally think the sound of Medieval/ Victorian apparel sound dazzling.
    Have you done any pictures of the clothing? Or perhaps it's vivid enough in your mind that you don't need to.

  4. I am tolerably over it already, as I feel rather honored than otherwise at having entrenched a bit of my whimsy upon your frontier. :D Plenilune's fashion sounds amazing. I love all the descriptions, and it sounds like just the sort of thing I've always imagined I'd wear to a masquerade...only I've never been to a masquerade--never even heard of one in *real* life. :D
    Oh yes. And Megan's favorite line was mine too. :)

  5. Sorry, Bethany. There don't seem to be enough particular words for pants (or trousers, as you call them) to differentiate between styles. By pantaloons I mean the baggier wear (a frilly chanticleer of medieval courts) and by trousers I mean the trim garments of Mr. Thornton.

    Megan, if I took you to Lookinglass, we would be up to our jewelled throats in a Social Gathering. Hurrah and huzzah with brightly polished brass knobs on! I will do my best with the fashion and the fantasy for all our sakes, too. Good grief, writing a novel is a tall order. But what jolly times! If I can't go to galas and dress like that, at least I can do so by proxy. I find the catering and dry cleaning bills are much more manageable that way.

    I don't know what I would do without you, Rachel. I am so thoroughly muddled inside my own plots that I have no clear idea how to straighten myself out and make a coherent, engaging post sometimes. You give me ample opportunity to chatter away in a pitiable attempt at interest on my blog about all the messy pictures I am finger-painting on my Word document.

  6. That paragraph from Plenilune made me absolute shiver... soo beautiful. I love how you describe their fashions... Very much looking forward to that book getting published - I find myself quite wishing that I was there, and reading it will be very nearly the equivalent I am sure. I certainly found myself somehow in Britain reading The Shadow Things! :D Which, by the way, was a fascinating book that I want to reread soon. :)

  7. Well, Katherine Sophia, I'm glad you say so. They make me shiver, and I'm just the author, and possibly a bad judge. They make me shiver as if I've just found the warmest, softest place possible and it's all for me.

    Tra la la lally, here down in the valley...!

  8. Well, I found myself unconsciously smiling as I read this. This post radiates with joy--your joy. It utterly betrays the intensity of the pleasure you have in writing, and the joy you take in telling us, your funny fans, all about it. And I'll tell you this: it makes me happy to no end.

    As for the fashions of Plenilune, oh! they sound simply splendid. A bit to grand for me, I tend to think, but oh-so-lovely to behold.

  9. Katie, you have found me out. When I think of Plenilune, when I write on it, I feel such a rising in my soul, like a whole rookery gone home to roost - a great rushing feeling of boundless flight. It also feels alarming like I am going to be sick. I am quite found out. I adore telling you all about the adventures I am having, the adventures I am making for you, and I hate having to be hush-hush about it sometimes. I can never keep my own secrets. And I love you, funny fans. You are the best. ^.^