Monday, October 17, 2016

Spotlight: New "Londoner" Edwardian Oxfords

Lauren here -

This month we're celebrating the new Fall/Winter styles we've opened for pre-order all at once. Each week we're taking a closer look at each style, the inspiration and research behind it, and how we made our version.

This week the focus is on the "Londoner" oxfords. I'll just say right now that I'm madly in love with these (you may think I say this about all our shoes, but truly, these oxfords hold a special place in my heart). And for the first time for our regular product range, we've done some really interesting colors.

For the past several years, we've been wanting to do an Edwardian oxford. This is a style that I've been asked for by many people many times, so there was no better time to get it going than for this Fall and Winter season.

Londoner Oxfords in Cherry (left) and Tan (right)
The Londoners are based on a great many early 20th century women's oxfords. *A great many.* Women's fashion for this period is heavily influenced by menswear, with tailor mades and work clothes, sharp details and clean lines, paper collars, neckties, and the footwear to complement. Ladies' oxford shoes featured stacked leather heels, pointed toes, and broguing, and were worn by all social classes. We have several pairs of women's oxfords in our study archive, and museum collections are also full of them.

An original pair of women's Edwardian oxfords. Click through to see how these looked when they came to us....
In designing our version, I wanted to use the Gibson last and heel shape for comfort and stability, and the broguing was a must. I spec'd the design for ivory and black, and these were the first prototypes:

zzzzzzzzzzzzzz - the first prototypes for the Londoner in ivory and black. Uninspiring.
Hrm. How boring. What was in my head wasn't quite translating, so it was time to try something different.

What was it about the original oxfords that made them so cool? The design with all that broguing was pretty cool, but perhaps just as important was the patina. The antique oxfords were dimensional and came in all kinds of interesting colors, like deep dark red and burled tan.

Pair of Shoes, 1910-1914, Victorian and Albert Museum
Oxford, 1900-1919, Shoe Icons Museum
Oxford, 1914-19, Pierre Yantorny, The Met Museum
Shoe, 1910-14, Victorian and Albert Museum
Pair of Shoes, c. 1900, Victorian and Albert Museum
Shoe, 1910-14, Victorian and Albert Museum
This brought to mind some beautiful finishes I'd been seeing on men's classic oxfords lately, so we decided to give something like this a try. The result was a deep "cherry" cordovan finished in black, and a burled "whiskey" tan deepening to a darker brown, both with stacked leather heels and good sturdy leather soles.

"Londoner" Edwardian Oxfords in Cherry (left) and Tan (right) with two-tone ombre effects on the toes, heels, and broguing. Each of these is hand-finished and polished.
SO much better than the plain black and ivory, and I'm glad to see you gals feel the same. So far in the pre-order the "Londoner" in cherry has been the most popular, followed closely by the tan colorway. I know you are going to love them when they arrive!

Pre-Order for "Londoner" and all the new Fall/Winter styles is open through November 1st for $20 off per pair, plus nice combo deals on accessories and shoe care products. USA orders over $165 get free shipping as well. :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New York, New York!

Today we are in New York City!


Although Abby has been here three times, Lauren has never been, so it's quite the experience. We're not at loose ends, though. Our three days are busy with all manner of fun thing, from seeing the dapper Dandy Wellington perform live jazz, to having a little pop-up shoe-showing party (do come if you're in the area!), to meeting The Vintage Voyageur, to perusing The Met, to checking out Slapback and other vintage shops, to seeing Dangerous Liaisons on Broadway (omg!), we are busy busy busy!

We just wanted to drop in an say hello before pulling on our spectator shoes and touring The Big Apple. We'll have lots of photos and fun to share with you here and on our Facebook page. For now, wish us luck (especially Lauren) in our NYC adventures.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rufflecon 2016!!!

Hello lovelies!

Lauren and I are currently off on a new adventure together - first was China & now we're off to Stamford, Connecticut for Rufflecon! (this is the part where I do that echo thing that people always do - "con..con...con...")

That's right ---- Lauren and I are travelling again. 1 month after China. We're just now starting to get over our China jet lag, and we're jetting off to NYC for a week.

We might have lost our minds. They're probably somewhere over Nebraska right now (Hi, Nicole!)

But hey, we're here, we're moving & a shakin' and we're excited to see what Rufflecon has in store for us. Neither one of us has ever been, but we're quite looking forward to the experience!

So here are the classes we're teaching -

Basic 18th century draping - I'll be demo-ing how to cut a bodice shape on Lauren for the class & taking questions from the audience.

How Not to Drape.

Outlander Hacks - Lauren will be presenting the same lecture she did for Costume College for the Rufflecon Crowd. The Ruffle-cap of Doom will probably be making an appearance. (Bahahah - it's punny - get it?)
All the Outlander. All the time.
Miss Fisher's Wardrobe - Again a repeat of Lauren's from Costume College & something that she blogged about right here.

All that Miss Fisher Goodness right here kids.

And finally, a new one for Lauren & I -

1780 vs 1880 aka "The Strip Off" - I'll be wearing my 1780 Levite gown & Lauren will be in her 1880s gown and we'll be picking off our layers bit by bit and discussing the differences & similarities between the pieces until we get down to our underwear. Thus - thanks to the randomness that are our Facebook Livestreams, we have dubbed this class the Strip Off. It'll probably be making it's way to a Facebook Livestream near you. Soon - ish..

You're welcome, Jaime. 

So on top of the 4 classes, we're also participating in a Fashion Show & "Couture Showcase" which will give Lauren a chance to talk about her design process for the shoes & how they're created, etc. I'll probably just be there for comedic relief.

It's going to be a hell of a weekend - that's for sure!

After the Con of Ruffles we will be spending a few days in NYC! Lauren's never been before & so we're hoping to make good use of our time in the City. Stay tuned into our Facebook & Instagram bot for Royal Vintage & American Duchess for regular updates and pics from our trip! We'll also blog about all of it once we're back & recovered. Again. :)

Alright - Till next time lovelies!

<3 <3

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Spotlight: New "Fraser" Early 18th Century Leather Shoes

Lauren reporting -

As you all know, this year we've opened all of our new Fall/Winter historic styles for pre-order at the same time. We've also made the pre-order period longer - through November 1st - and each week, I'll be focusing on each design and sharing my inspiration, research, and references.

This week the spotlight is on "Fraser," the new earlier 18th century leather shoes perfect for Outlander cosplay, French and Indian War, or any ensemble from c. 1700 - 1760.

"Fraser" has been in development a *long* time. We first prototyped this design way back 2012, when it was called "Lexington." Then it became "Madison" in 2013, but through factory changes and re-development and other stuff happening, the design, name, and timing still wasn't quite right. Finally here we are in 2016 with two seasons of Outlander behind us, with the Outlander-inspired patterns released by Simplicity this past Summer, and the timing couldn't be more right.

When I was designing the Frasers, I wanted to include differences between them and the Pompadours. I knew you gals would be using them for more rough-and-ready events, and needed a lower heel, more robust materials, and a good comfortable shoe. We've done the "Fraser" with a tapered toe and our broad 2 inch French heel, essential hallmarks of earlier 18th century footwear. Additionally, instead of tabs we're using latchets to be worn with buckles, and we've done pointed latchets, tongue, and dog-leg seams, also design cues from early 18th century shoes.

Comparing silhouettes of all our 18th century shoes (click for larger)
The Frasers are calf leather on the upper, lined in canvas like original 18th c. shoes. This is very comfortable and allows the shoes to conform to your feet more quickly. The heels are leather-covered; we've soled in leather as well; and, of course, we've included the white rand between the sole and the upper, one of the most identifying elements of women's shoes in this period.

There aren't very many surviving common women's leather shoes in collections, but we do have lots of contemporary advertisements and records about women's footwear. (Nicole of Diary of a Mantua Maker does excellent research in this vein. Also check out The Old Bailey for records). In looking at the records, leather was the second most common material after wool ("stuff"), and black the most common color.

Hampshire Museum, 1710 - 1730 (record no longer available)
LACMA, 1740-1750 M.82.26.4a-b (record w/o pictures)

Shoe Icons, c. 1770s 

We've done the Frasers in black leather (of course!) as well as ivory leather. I'm *so* happy with the final result of these beautiful, accurate, early 18th century shoes, and I know you'll love 'em too. Frasers are on pre-order through November 1st for $20 off, plus combo discounts on buckles, stockings, and leather care products, as well as free USA shipping if your order is over $165.