"My goal is to accurately recreate historically based ensembles and share them with other Second Life residents. It is part art, part passion, and all about preserving the work and memories of Victorian, Edwardian, and 1920 era fashion designers for a new, digital generation."
~ Kembri Tomsen
The Curious Seamstress
It took a while before I understood that what I do is art. I blame this revelation on my sister, Ghilayne. She is the one who said to me one day, 'You're an artist for God's sake!'. Well that struck me speechless, which if you knew me you would know is nearly unheard of! I began to look at what I do to produce these digital outfits and realized she was correct. Each outfit can take from 4 to 14 hours, depending on details. That's not counting the research or other little background tasks. That is just producing the basic digital garment. It is art, and it is 21st century art.
You see I've been an artist using paint, pencil, oil pastels, paper, and canvas since I was a child. I've also been sewing, embroidering, and otherwise embellishing fabrics, since I was 6 years old. I can now count my experience in decades, but it has always been done to please me, not to sell or to show. When I found Second Life, I found a new medium. In it I could combine my love of line and color, and my artist's eye, with a digital medium that let me use fabrics and trim that I could only dream of using in the real world. I knew how cloth flowed and moved, depending on type and weight, and it took a while for me to translate that knowledge into digital format. But I did.
Then I found all the stunningly gorgeous clothing from other eras. Do you know who Charles Worth is? How about his son, Philippe? Or Jaques Doucet, Callot Souers, Madame Paquin, or Jesse Franklin Turner? I have learned about these amazing designers and seen the clothing they made, and it became my mission to bring them to life again in a digital environment. Then to share those dresses, gowns and ensembles with others who also adore Victorian and Edwardian clothing as well as that from the 1920s. Each era has its own special flavor and style, and I have an absolute passion about recreating them for a new generation to experience.
My skills have grown over the last eight years. I'm now beginning my 9th year of producing these gowns, and I find more and more amazing pieces to present to others. Researching the gowns, the accessories that go with them, the time period they belong in, it all blends into a harmonious whole once I present a finished outfit. Each outfit is as complete as I can make it, from undergarments to accessories. If I can't make something, but I can find a good approximation, I will note that in the note card that comes with the gowns. These note cards are important, and you as a client should read them when you receive the gown in Second Life. They will tell you a bit of the history surrounding the gown if at all possible. Something about the designer if I know anything, and it will also list where to get things like hair, jewelry, or shoes.
Some day, when I grow up, I would love to work in a costume shop again for theatre or even in the film industry. There is something uplifting and amazing about walking into a room full of sewing machines and fabric, and being asked to recreate a period costume from scratch! Until then, I will continue expressing my love of garment history through the digital medium, and hoping that some of my passion rubs off on those who come into possession of my work.
The Curious Seamstress