If you see someone walking down the street in your neighbourhood wearing full 18th Century European court dress, carrying picnic supplies and a parasol to protect their complexion, you may very well ask them "Hey! Why are you all dressed up?"
In a city like New York, you're likely to get the response "I'm on my way to a performance." Or "We're filming." Or "I'm doing a shoot for a magazine."
And sometimes, just sometimes, you'll get the reply,
To me, the 18th Century recalls images courtesy of Gainsborough and his ilk, of pastoral picnics and outings to the country.
It was a mild day in early spring, so my friends and I organised a picnic in one of New York's many parks. We laid out the rich food one associates with the European idle class, tightened our stays and powdered our wigs.
Whenever we have these outings, a side effect is always the crowd of tourists and locals alike who amass to take pictures (sometimes politely asking permission first) and ask us what our purpose is. I always try to impress upon people that we don't need a purpose to inhabit another time for a day. I always hope they will come away with the knowledge that they too don't need a reason if it strikes their fancy to have a Roman feast, or an Edwardian coquet party. They have the freedom and the power to do so, and there need be no excuse of monetary gain or employment.
On our way to the park, we passed a film crew who gave us jolly shouts of 'we're waiting for you on set!'
I wondered if they'd have batted an eye if we partook in their craft services spread.
Some asked where our costumes came from. I myself have amassed my collection from years of hunting antique markets for beautiful, affordable, and suitable pieces - which can take some time. There are also those magical days when theatres and opera houses will sell off old costume stock, so not only are you getting lovely costume pieces, you are also getting a piece of performance history. Some of our pieces were made for us by talented friends, like Claire Sanders or Sarah of Aracne Attire.
Our characters began to live in their own right, as we quickly discovered a history of clandestine affairs, diplomaic tensions, and of course, croquet hooliganism.
I encourage you all to start your own themed croquet league in your nearest public park. You never know what you might unleash.
Featured: Miss Siri, Miss Elle, Burlesque performer Iris Explosion, Burlesque performer Lewd Alfred Douglas, and illustrator Fyodor Pavlov.
Blue striped suit made by Claire Sanders
Gowns by Aracne Attire
See you in the next century....