So there I was a few weeks ago putting the final touches on my trip to the 200th anniversary and reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo, when what should pop up in my email? Somehow I had gotten on a list for the 200th anniversary of the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball. And guess what? We were the reenactors. Well, not entirely. There will be no Scottish Highlanders, their kilts flaring as they perform the sword dance. Nobody is going to show up at the stroke of ten with a dispatch for Wellington. He won’t run off to look at maps and pen dispatches and orders. Officers in bright red regimentals, kilts and blue and silver pelisses won’t vanish into the night, nor will the early morning darkness be shattered by the tattoo of drums and the shrill whistle of pipes calling the men to arms. We will have a military honor guard. And I do believe the current Duke of Wellington will be there.(It’s very sad. His father, the 8th duke, was planning to attend this and the reenactment. He was on the boards and helped plan things, after all. But at 99, he just didn’t make it this far. So the 9th is taking over for him). There will be a lot of gentlemen in regimentals, and a lot of ladies in period attire, l like my friend Sally Hawkes and I.
In fact, I will be completely kitted out in my own brand of regimentals. The Beau Monde Guarde. I will be wearing the dress you see here (bespoke from Matti’s Millinery and Costume on Etsy–and sweet heavens, did she do a fabulous job with only a two week window. She let me pick some lovely sari material and a design, took my measurements, and created this lovely ballgown, stole and reticule from it. I highly recommend her), formal white gloves, a tiara(for those who have been following, the long one, not the pointy one) (I thought of wearing a feather headdress, but I suspected I would resemble a partridge), antique gold and coral jewelry, and gold sandals. Even better, gold toenails. I’d carried that image around me for decades of some regency heroine outraging the ton by painting her toenails gold. And guess what? I found out that it was none other than Lady Barbara Childe attending–you guessed it–the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball in, in my opinion one of the best books written about the period surrounding Waterloo–and the battle itself–Georgette Heyer’s An Infamous Army(which I’ll speak more of in another post). You will see all this loveliness in my post-ball wrap-up on the 14th. But I”ll try to post during the event with pics, so you can see exactly how rarefied the atmosphere in which we float that night.
The countdown is currently at 7 days. Next (gulp) Saturday. Heaven help the Belgians.
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