A CLOSET FULL OF COSTUMES & A CUPBOARD FULL OF TEA:
MEET VALARIE LABORE
continued / Part VI
We rejoin Valarie for our final in this series. Honestly, it’s difficult doing a farewell interview. Although I expect to stay in touch with Valarie and continue reading her delightful and informative blogs, it’s difficult after spending lots of hours together with someone who is such an inspiration! And I am honored that Valarie made time for me. She truly has lots on her plate, but she seems to always find time to share and is quite gracious about it.
Goose Mother: Valarie, you devote a lot of your time to costuming and events. And I mean that as not only creating costumes and attending events, but you’ve assisted in some of the organization and volunteered your skills surrounding these events. And, before you leave us, I wanted to discuss the recent gathering in Virginia City, Nevada. Virginia City is full of history and can be quite intriguing to visit. However, on your recent trip there, you came back with some fantastic photos, and your costume was awesome! Can you share some of those pictures and give us some background?
Valarie LaBore: Opportunities for my costuming seem to be never-ending. Our guild used to find a couple events we could go to during the year, but over the years that’s increased to a couple a month. Even going on vacation sometimes gives me an opportunity to bring a costume. For example, on my recent trip to Washington, I was in a fashion show during a local Victorian Festival for the second time. Last October we went to Lake Tahoe in California and invited my friends Cindy & Jerry to join us. Cindy suggested we go to nearby Virginia City, Nevada, an historic old mining town, on Halloween and bring our mourning gowns with us to do a fashion shoot in their cemetery. It is said to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States. A friend of mine, Carolyn, who lived nearby, joined us in a gown she had recently made too. It is a very old and grey, and stark cemetery to photograph in. It also happened to be a cold and windy day, making it perfectly gloomy for our photos. I was wearing 1850s, Carolyn 1830s, and Cindy 1870s.
With it being on Halloween, and the town was having a parade, we of course were invited to join in. We ended up leading the parade too, and were yelling out, “Are there any single men available?” We got a lot of laughs out of it. This was something I would have never thought about doing and it turned out to be a really fun addition to our vacation. Jerry, (Jerry Abuan), takes excellent photos, and is our “official photographer” of the San Diego Costume Guild. I used to take a lot more photos, but now I’m able to enjoy the event more, and I actually am in more photos since I’m not behind the camera as much. I was able to take some of my own and have them in my album here, starting on this page, along with some of my favorites that Jerry took.
Goose Mother: Jerry’s photos seem to document a certain narrative and your photos seem to represent certain nuances. Between the two of you much of the event’s glamour and excitement is captured. As I said before, it’s the next best thing to being there. What are your plans concerning your future?
Valarie LaBore: As regards to my tea catering, I’m hoping the economy continues to pick up for everyone, and in turn that they’re able to consider having a tea catered for them and their friends. Even though I’m sad that my clients were reduced drastically over the last four years, it also gave me more time to focus on my costuming. But my catering was a business and there are so many wonderful recipes I’m dying to make. I still host a Boxing Day Tea Party for my friends every year on the day after Christmas and they get to be my guinea pigs for new ideas. But I’m anxious to do more.
As far as costuming, fashion shows, and now parades, present opportunities, and excuses, to wear more costumes. I’m in a fashion show next month on May 5 for Gaslight Gathering’s Steampunk & Victoriana convention, dressed as an Edwardian seamstress and a Victorian photographer. I’m still working on my 1870s outfit for the photographer at the moment. I’ve been asked to be in another fashion show in Old Town San Diego in July wearing my Bloomer gown. I wore it there a couple months ago and caused quite a stir among the docents, and now they want to wear one since I’ve provided documentation that it had ties to San Diego. Here is a tintype photo taken of me in Old Town by Nick Hidek, which is one of the best ones I’ve seen yet, although you can’t see my Bloomers.
June 1, our guild has been asked by SOHO (Save Our Historical Organization) to provide background “eye candy” in period dress for their grand opening of the Warner Carrillo Rancho in Warner Springs, California. The first four days in August is Costume College, and we’re repeating our One Hundred Years of Mourning Fashion for it. And I have a couple outfits I’d like to make to wear there.
In the wake of our successful English Authors Lawn Party at Balboa Park (My blog about it is here). We’re now looking at doing something similar at the grand opening of a new public library in San Diego.
Goose Mother: I’m amazed! How do you manage to fit all these things in? I know you have to spend time preparing and some of these conventions are days-long affairs.
Valarie Labore: I know it sounds like I have a lot of “free” time in between but I do have a real life too, and hubby needs some attention too. I turn down quite a few event possibilities so I can regroup, rest up, and move on to the next project. I had hoped by now to have a decent Downton Abbey wardrobe but alas, all I have are some patterns and fabrics. Many of us are hoping some of the pattern companies get on the stick real soon and put some patterns out for the ‘teens era (1913-1919) for that before it ends. We’ve found a few that can be altered but not everyone has the ability to do that. So the early 1900s is a wide open field for the pattern companies.
I had assumed I would have had another 1905 gown done as well since it was so easy, and another 1830s. I have fabrics for those too. A short time ago I was thinking I would love to make a 1905 mourning gown for the fashion show, but I already have my 1885 one. And then I realized I could still do a black one to use as my Edwardian maid outfit for my tea parties since I never finished the one I had. And I like the Truly Victorian pattern for it better than the thrown together pattern I was going to use. It’s very flattering and I think it would look nice in a black cotton eyelet. I’m going for this look of an Edwardian maid.
I think what happens is we have an event pop up and then any current thoughts of a new dress have to be refocused on whatever is needed for that. So my plans get set aside. I have a pile of photos and patterns on a side table next to me that are holding the most prominent plans at the moment. I even saw a gorgeous early 1900s lace insertion bodice on ebay that I saved the photo from that I think I could come up with an easy-peasy, fake method of doing one. I think I could teach a class on how to do that at Costume College if I have the time to try one out. But that will have to wait ’till next year. That’s what’s cool about this hobby; it never seems to end. There are always new opportunities and so much variety. I do want to continue learning and sharing what I learn with others. I often find very interesting websites with information that benefits me, and in turn I share them on our guild’s Yahoo page and on various Facebook groups.
Goose Mother: I think you’d do well as a sewing instructor. You certainly have the experience, skills and the patience. I also appreciate what you share on your blog. I’m sure it’s helpful and instructive for a few.
Valarie LaBore: I hope in the next couple weeks to have a few more posts in my blog about one fashion show I was in, where I’m still waiting for any photos of me, the outfit I’m finishing for the fashion show at Gaslight Gathering this weekend, and the story of this little baby that just came into my life yesterday; a rare greenish-white Singer Featherweight sewing machine.
Goose Mother: Oh, wow, Valarie! What an awesome find. I can’t wait to learn the story behind this beauty! Where did you find this?
Valarie LaBore: (she giggles) You’ll have to wait for the blog.
Goose Mother: You’re such a delightful tease! I’ve really enjoyed spending this time with you and I appreciate your taking the time for this interview. Of course, I will continue to follow you at your blog, Time Traveling in Costume, and hopefully we’ll have tea again soon.