Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style.Reconstructions of XIX century costumes

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Once a year, on the day of my birth, I like to indulge my senses, in a way, an act of regenerating, of reminding myself of who and what I am. On one of these occasions, I was taken to Versailles by Mr de Merteuil, waking on the morning in a hotel that used to be the royal stables and spending the afternoon eating macaroons in le Petit Trianon, while watching wildlife drift by in the lazily setting sun. This year it was spent at Wilanów Palace, the former residence of Polish Kings located on the outskirts of Warsaw, which I relished visiting for the opportunity to willfully gratify my taste for art, beauty and most importantly cake.

I take cake very seriously, it’s an art form in its own right but it wasn’t the only reason for visiting the palace, as I wanted to see and exhibition that’s just opened there as it’s one that panders to another of my passions, 19th century costume design.

Titled ‘Helena Modjeska – Icon of Style’, the exhibition, like me being Gemini, has something of a split personality or at least comes in two parts. One half is devoted to recreations of costumes worn by the actress Helena Modjeska, while the other half focuses on a contest set for young enthusiasts of historical tailoring, to create a design inspired by her. I’m sure you’re wondering who this Helena Modjeska is and why she deserves so much attention. Simply put, she was a Polish actress in the 19th century famed though-out Europe and America for the creativity and construction of her stage costumes, many of which she designed herself. Well respected for her taste in fashion, she influenced the likes of famed English actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lillie Langtry. She was also at the forefront of a trend to modernise stage costuming to bring it in line with 19th century tastes.

So there you have it, a true Belle Époque woman, a fitting one to pay tribute to and to follow in the footsteps of. So I’m excited to share with you all my discovery of her and of how fresh young designers have interpreted the designs that she wore.

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, photo from the collection of the Theater Museum in Warsaw

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, photo from the collection of the Theater Museum in Warsaw

RECONSTRUCTIONS

First prize in the category Reconstructions was awarded to work by Anna Franczyk

Helena Modjeska as Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas

Helena Modjeska as Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas

Replica of the costume for the role of Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexander Dumas, designed by Anna Franczyk, age 26

Replica of the costume for the role of Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexander Dumas, designed by Anna Franczyk, age 26

Undergarment designed by Anna Franczyk

Undergarment designed by Anna Franczyk

Second prize was awarded to work by Pawel Androsiuk

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Magda by Hermann Sudermann,photo from the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Cracow

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Magda by Hermann Sudermann,photo from the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Cracow

tReplica of the costume for the title role in Magda by Hermann Sudermann, designed by Pawel Androsiuk, age 17

Replica of the costume for the title role in Magda by Hermann Sudermann, designed by Pawel Androsiuk, age 17

Undergarment designed by Pawel Androsiuk

Undergarment designed by Pawel Androsiuk

Third prize was awarded to work by Marek Zietka

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, photo from the collection of the Theatre Museum in Warsaw

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, photo from the collection of the Theatre Museum in Warsaw

Replica of the costume for the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, designed by Marek Ziatek, age 17

Replica of the costume for the title role in Dalila by Octave Feuillet, designed by Marek Ziatek, age 17

Undergarment designed by Marek Zietek

Undergarment designed by Marek Zietek

Helena Modjeska as Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of the State Archive in Piotrkow Trybunalski

Helena Modjeska as Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of the State Archive in Piotrkow Trybunalski

Replica of the costume for the role of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, designed by Agnieszka Kaszuba-Chojnacka, age 28

Replica of the costume for the role of Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, designed by Agnieszka Kaszuba-Chojnacka, age 28

Undergarment designed by Agnieszka Kaszuba-Chojnacka

Undergarment designed by Agnieszka Kaszuba-Chojnacka

Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style

 

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Maria Stuart by Juliusz Slowacki, photo from the collection of the Theatre Museum in Warsaw

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Maria Stuart by Juliusz Slowacki, photo from the collection of the Theatre Museum in Warsaw

Replica of the costume for the title role in Maria Stuart by Juliusz Slowacki, designed by Justyna Chruslicka, age 24

Replica of the costume for the title role in Maria Stuart by Juliusz Slowacki, designed by Justyna Chruslicka, age 24

Undergarment designed by Justyna Chruslicka

Undergarment designed by Justyna Chruslicka

Helena Modjeska as Yolande in King Rene's Daughter by Henrik Hertz, photo from the collection of the State Archive in Piotrkow Trybunalski

Helena Modjeska as Yolande in King Rene’s Daughter by Henrik Hertz, photo from the collection of the State Archive in Piotrkow Trybunalski

Replica of the costume for the role of Yolande in King Rene's Daughter by Henrik Hertz, designed by Natalia Stachura, age 23

Replica of the costume for the role of Yolande in King Rene’s Daughter by Henrik Hertz, designed by Natalia Stachura, age 23

Helena Modjeska as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Replica of the costume for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, designed by Blanka Kozlowska, age 19

Replica of the costume for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, designed by Blanka Kozlowska, age 19

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Replica of the costume for the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, designed by Elzbieta Litwiniak. Work outside of the contest

Replica of the costume for the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, designed by Elzbieta Litwiniak. Work outside of the contest

Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style

INSPIRATIONS

First prize in the category Inspirations was awarded to work by Klaudia Kukula, age 28

“I was inspired to make this design by a dress of Helena Modjeska from private photography.Out of love for all kind of overprints I have transferred the main motif on the fabric captured on the photo, which is crane, on the dress-whitch is itself very simple in style, The dress is made of white and dark blue fabrics. The white fabric is plain weave cotton and contrasting dark blue fabric is a mix of polyacrylonitrile and wool, heavy twill weave.Dress’s cut is simple. It is cut just below breasts, its sleeves narrow with puffs. Lower line of the dress from the front is shorter than on the back, There are three folds on the back. It does not have finishing in the form of material turned back at the neck, sleeves or at the bottom. Fabric is protected from tearing by backstitching. To make putting on the dress easier, I sewn in zip fastener into the side seem on the armpit-breast line. In the dark blue part of the dress I sewn polyester lining of the same color. For overprint I used a stencil. I used for fabrics covering paints, similar to those used in screen printing.”

Quote from the book “Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style. From distance to temptation”

 

Helena Modjeska- private photo, from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska- private photo, from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Outfit idesigned by Klaudia Kukula, nspired by a private dress.

Outfit idesigned by Klaudia Kukula, nspired by a private dress.

Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style

Second prize was awarded to work by Iga Sylwestrzak, age 24

“The design is characterized by minimalistic, contemporary form of the dress, complemented by geometrical transformation of detail coming from the photo that inspired  me. This detail in my design plays a leading role, it was also translated on the outfit’s form.” Quote from the book “Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style. From distance to temptation”

Modjeska with her husband-Karol Chlapowski, photo from the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Cracow

Modjeska with her husband-Karol Chlapowski, photo from the collection of the Historical Museum of the City of Cracow

Outfit inpired by private dress. Iga Sylwestrzak, age 24

Outfit inpired by private dress. Iga Sylwestrzak, age 24

 

 

Third prize was awarded to work by Daria Woszczatynska, age 23

“Set submitted to the contest comprises of red jacket and short, simple skirt. It is outfit for contemporary woman who admires and respects achievements of Helena Modjeska. Clothes with overprints of great artists faces are a common tribute to them, also in this design, characteristic, expressive face of the great actress decorates back of the jacket. It appears accompanied by red small balls made of fabric-red beads, “contemporary pearls”. Red color symbolizes power of character and passion of Modjeska, I was also inspired to use it by the tradition that red was a beloved  color of Barbara Radziwill. Fabrics (jacquard and  cotton)constitute a compromise and bridge between rather rich, memorable costume of the actress and requirements of contemporary fashion, allowing maximum utility of the outfit.”

Quote from the book “Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style. From distance to temptation”

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Barbara Radziwil by Alojzy Felinski, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Outfit designed by Draria Woszczatynska, inspired by the costume for the role in Barbara Radziwill by Alojzy Felinski.

Outfit designed by Draria Woszczatynska, inspired by the costume for the role in Barbara Radziwill by Alojzy Felinski.

 

HONOURABLE MENTION

Justyna Helena Lasota, age 19

Outfit designed by Justyna Helena Lasota,inspired by the costume for the title role in Barbara Radziwill by Alojzy Felinski

Outfit designed by Justyna Helena Lasota,inspired by the costume for the title role in Barbara Radziwill by Alojzy Felinski

Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style

 

SPECIAL PRIZE

Klaudia Nikiel, age 18

Replica_of_a_costume_by_KlaudiaNikiel

Modjeska Helena

HONOURABLE MENTION

Agata Zwirska, age 24

Helena Modjeska as Camille in The Lady of the Cammellias by Alexandr Dumas, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska as Camille in The Lady of the Cammellias by Alexandr Dumas, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Outfit designed by Agata Zwirska, inspired by the costume for the role of Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas

Outfit designed by Agata Zwirska, inspired by the costume for the role of Camille in The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas

 

Michal Byra, age 17

Helena Modjeska as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Outfit designed by Michal Byra, inspired by the costume for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Outfit designed by Michal Byra, inspired by the costume for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Helena Modjeska-Icon of Style

 

Beata Leszczynska, age 17

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Odette by Victorien Serdon, photos from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Helena Modjeska in the title role in Odette by Victorien Serdon, photos from the collection of Kris Cieply, California

Outfit designed by Beata Leszczynska, inspired by the costume for the title role in Odette by Victorien Sardon

Outfit designed by Beata Leszczynska, inspired by the costume for the title role in Odette by Victorien Sardon

 

Diep Nguyen, age 22

Helena Modjeska in undermined role, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply California

Helena Modjeska in undermined role, photo from the collection of Kris Cieply California

Outfit designed by Diep Nguyen, inspired by the costume for undermined role

Outfit designed by Diep Nguyen, inspired by the costume for undermined role Studio photography: Olga Skoczylas

Helena Modjeska-Icon os Style

 

My beautiful Darlings,

Which costume is your favourite one?

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