A Woodland Wandering (Fashion Editor for this sitting: Marline)
Marisa, our beloved flame-haired model, strolls along a wooded trail in the late afternoon. Under the arched boughs of russet-leafed maples and brown-leafed oaks, she wears a stunning camel-colored skirt with the suggestion of a bustle created by looped-up folds of the fine-textured wool. It brushes the tops of her brown leather lace-up demi-boots as she walks along, basket in the crook of her elbow into which she gathers autumn leaves and twigs. Beside her romps a spaniel, his eager expression captures the joy of tramping through the woods with his mistress.
Her snug tweedy jacket, of darker chestnut wool with flecks of rust, orange and surprising teal, has a wonderful peplum shape at the waist. If you examine the picture closely, as all Victoriannes will, you can just catch the faintest glimpse of a sweater peeking out at the wrist—it is crafted of whisper-soft ivory wool and has ruffled cuffs trimmed with tatting for a gracious romantic touch. A slim scarf crocheted of knobbles and whorls of ivory and brown wool, is wrapped several times around her neck. Her tousled chignon is bedecked with a tortoise-shell ornament; her rosy cheeks show her delight and the cool, autumn air. The basket is nearly full of colorful leaves, and she is gazing toward her cozy house, where a thin stream of smoke rises from the chimney against the deepening lavender twilight.
The next page opens to a room that glows with russets and reds…autumn leaves and flowers riot from an antique bowl-and-pitcher set while Marisa arranges them to greater perfection. Her jacket has been shed to an overstuffed chair of brown and goldenrod plaid—it’s piled with floral and tapestry-worked pillows in soft autumnal colors. The chair sits on a braid rug of deep forest green, sage green, browns and orange and rust. Looking on intently is her dog…his warm brown eyes and soft white and brown coloring seem designed to match his surroundings.
The briskly burning fire has warmed the room, so Marisa has taken off her delicate sweater, and now we can see a Liberty-style print blouse with poet sleeves and a high, Victorian collar.
Her long skirt is the perfect background for this somber autumn floral…bark brown, bone, mossy green, spice brown, and beige are the predominant colors—the print is a rendition of the medieval tapestry of the unicorn hunt. A matte gold bracelet of ancient coin replicas sparkles at her wrist as she concentrates on her artistic endeavor. In the background, we can barely discern a mahogany side table. On it sits a petite brownware teapot, transferware cup and saucer nearby.
The next page shows our model a few days hence, perhaps. She is looking out an arched window. Rain occludes the view…all we can see is a golden blurr of leaves crowding the windowpane and her muted reflection. Your eyes are first drawn to her romantic, impossibly gossamer blouse. Made of gauzy sage green silk, it looks as if it’s been spun by a fairy, not crafted by clever seamstresses. (This image is of a Donna Karan blouse from her Fall 2005 collection. Credit: New York Magazine.)
Mille-feuille pleats, cascading from a deep V neckline, span her bodice, ruffles cinch her wrists; the blouse hugs her like a corset. She has raised one arm in a languid gesture, the voluminous sleeves drape from their puffed sleeves to pool around her elbow. Her hair, piled upon her head in a style reminiscent of the Gibson Girls, has a few stray wisps that gently fall upon her exposed nape. A cluster of delicate golden chains adorn her neck as well, lockets dangle from them, their faint golden gleam glowing in the dark windowglass. With this cloud of a blouse, our model wears a slim-fitting trumpet-flared skirt of deep brown tweed wool; her open-work stockings of textured sage wool are complemented perfectly by the menswear-inspired high-heeled ghillie-tie oxfords in bark brown leather. We leave her to her autumn reverie.