Genevieve PM Roy
Joseph Ponton CostumesJoseph Ponton Costumes
On January 5th 2013, PBS will be hosting a fantastic Edwardian style dinner in the style of Downton Abbey at the majestic Rialto Theater. Participants are highly encouraged to come dressed up in historical / period costumes. All attending staff and servers will be dressed in similar attire and will be delighted to serve dinner guests with proper Edwardian British etiquette.
Last week, I had the chance to get an exclusive tour of historical costume store Ponton‘s workshops in the historical Old Montreal. I had the chance to go behind - the- scenes and see many wondrous period costumes that are usually never showed or lent to the public. From breathtakingly detailed sets to stunning costumes, props, wigs and accessories, Ponton costume store provides a unique venue that showcases extraordinary talent and creativity that went into making the over 15 000 costumes currently available to the public.
Joseph Ponton is the oldest and largest costume store in Quebec dating from 1865, the Ponton family started their collection of costumes in the back store of their barber shop located at the time on St- Laurent street corner Viger. When a roaming French theater company went bankrupt and was forced to sell all their belongings to purchase a boat ticket to return home, it was Joseph Ponton that bought over all their costumes and from there, started his venture into costume rental. Today the company flourishes and the business is still family run. From modern animated classic series to more formal period costumes, Ponton has an astounding variety of costumes to suit any need, whether for a casual Halloween party or a series of period costumes for a Television series.
During my visit, I also got the chance to interview Ms. Carmelle Gagne, a professional seamstress and costume designer who is especially passionate about the Victorian era. She finds that this period represents a time when elegance and self restraint in mannerism was considered the norm for fine ladies. Everything was restricted and stressed by high drama. Carmelle says this restraint only helped to enhance the secret passions that the people of the Victorian and Edwardian times tried so hard to dissimulate behind their floor length gowns and tight corsets!
For the Downton Abbey event , here are a few of her costume recommendations: The series takes place from the 1900’s up until the 1920 in Season 3 coming out on January 6th ! This leaves ample room for various styles and accessories:
For ladies: The Victorian times was characterized by straight, high collars and long sleeves. Dresses were darker color and quite fitting around the waist with the help of corsets. Skirts were designed to fit the waist and were sweeping floor- length. A shift was made during Edwardian times when the sleeves grew shorter and the neck line was reduced to allow a view of cleavage and the back of the neck. “As a reference, think of Rose’s outfits from the Titanic compared to her mother and her entourage.” In the 1912 and onwards, furs, pearls, kimono sleeves, gloves and pastels colors started to become the norm. Hair was usually swept up with pins and decorative ornamentation were worn.
For men: Unlike women, traditional articles of clothing for gentlemen changed very little and the only concession to the passing of time was slight variations in the cut to trousers and jacket. Colors remained fairly dark and the only places where color was allotted was to the waistcoat, sweater and tie. For evenings and dinner, men’s attire was strictly composed of a black dress coat, white waistcoat and trousers matching the coat. The dress coat was double- breasted with a cut- away front and two tails at the rear. The sleeves would end plain or with a cuff or slit with three buttons.
For those still seeking a special evening costume or dinner suit, historical costume store Ponton is delighted to offer a 10 % reduction to any patron who mentions the Downton Abbey event.