Here is my latest doll sketch: Miss Babette, she of my avatar with whom I cannot bear to part. (If my syntax seems pretentious, it's just because I'm an English teacher and I feel like a hypocrite breaking the rules I teach all day - I'm not a wanker, I swear!) I gave her an outfit similar to my last dressed lady, but I'm much happier with this effort than the first. I think her slightly off posture (a quizzical tilting of the head) gives her enough of an odd look to save her from being merely cute or pretty.
Well, The Duchess was deeply satisfying on so many levels. I LOVED it, and if you're a sucker for costume dramas, you won't be disappointed; the clothes are breathtaking. But even if you're not crazy about period films, this movie is so well-acted, well-written, beautifully directed and it has substance. It's the story of Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire (who was an ancestor of Lady Diana's) and her unhappy marriage to the Duke (played by yummy Ralph Fiennes). Kiera Knightly has some serious acting chops and while it's a fairly bleak tale, it's gripping all the way through.
It was also a perfect example of my ambivalence toward period clothing. I love pouring over costume books and looking at pictures of clothing anywhere from the Elizabethan to the Victorian eras. I think those old, elaborate clothes were beautiful as garments and fascinating as structures, and yet they must have been so oppressive and confining and uncomfortable. I sometimes get lost in romantic ideas about living in a time when things were so detailed and handcrafted, but I know that as a woman, my choices would have been severely limited. So those clothes both attract and repel at the same time, and it has occurred to me recently that maybe this is why people always comment on how sad my dolls look. I try to mimic period clothes because I have a genuine aesthetic appreciation for them, and yet I imagine that many women who actually had to wear them must have been quite sad. But back to the Duchess, here she is, looking fab.