Because I love Greco-Roman antiquity, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because I’ve performed Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous, classically-inspired tableaux vivants twice in the last twelve years, I needed to make myself a chiton. Because chitons are awesome and I like them, I needed a chiton.
By this point in the blog post, you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is a chiton? Who is Lady Hamilton? And those “tableaux” thingies?” I know it sounds like a strange combination of ideas, but it’s honestly not as complicated as it seems. In fact, the chiton – a very simple women’s (and men’s!) garment originating in ancient Greece and widely used as a basic dress or underdress for women in Roman eras – is extremely easy to make and wear. But I’ll get to that in a second.
Emma, My Inspiration
First, the Lady Emma part of the explanation. Our English Regency society puts on various events dealing with events and culture from the late Georgian period of British history. In the course of preparations for a ball honoring the great naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson, I somehow got roped into playing a role. And not just any role; I would be recreating Lady Emma Hamilton’s famous “attitudes.” Lady Emma performed these silent tableaux from 1787 through the 1790s and into the early 19th century, sparking several high-profile imitations and influencing modern dance and other forms of performance art over a hundred years later. Now, this was 1999 and I was crazy busy trying to finish my last year of law school. The last thing I probably needed on my plate was a performance of some sort, but for Emma Hamilton I made an exception.
Well, I’m home from a lovely visit to Orange County and Los Angeles. Yes, we went to Disneyland. Yes, we stopped by Kiyonna. Yes, I bought something. One dress. ONLY ONE. Really.
Anyway, here’s the latest scoop on Emma, which wrapped last night on Masterpiece Classic:
If you were one of the #emma_pbs Twitter winners from last week, make sure you follow me/respond to my direct message so I can get your mailing info to the good folks at PBS.org and so you can get your awesome Jane Austen action figure. 😀 Remember, I’m @magicskyway.
Since the first Emma Twitter party was such a success, PBS.org is presenting another for Part Two! There will be an “east coast” party beginning this Sunday, January 31, at 9pm ET and a “west coast” party to follow at 9pm PT at Twitter hashtag #emma_pbs.
You can use the official PBS Emma TwitGrid (it’s a new one!) to help you navigate all posts to the #emma_pbs hashtag. Check the PBS.org Emma Twitter page for details and updates. In the works: another quiz with Laurel Ann and me, more prizes, and special discounts for party participants at ShopPBS!
I scored Mr. Knightley on the “Bachelors of Highbury” Quiz at the Emma website. I’m not surprised, for he will always be my number-one fictional crush. Ha! “You might not see one in a hundred with gentleman so plainly written as in Mr. Knightley.”