Penny Dreadful


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As it’s well known that I am of a somewhat goth persuasion, it’s probably of absolutely NO SURPRISE to absolutely anyone that I am a massive fan of the series Penny Dreadful, which plunges hapless viewers into the darkly beating heart of the terrifying demimonde of 1890s London. In Penny Dreadful, most of the capital’s citizens are still reeling from the grotesque horrors of the Ripper murders of 1888 while unbeknownst to them even worse horrors lurk in the underbelly of the city’s dark and dangerous streets and notorious alleyways where vampires, werewolves, witches and monsters lurk in the shadows and prey upon the unsuspecting.

Although there’s a wealth of intriguing characters in Penny Dreadful, my favourite by far is the fascinating and enigmatic Miss Vanessa Ives played by Eva Green, who brings her usual intimidating blend of beauty, elegance, intelligence and absolute sheer menace to the part. Unlike most of the other characters, which are drawn from the gothic tales of Wilde, Stoker, Shelley and others, Vanessa is an original creation who fits perfectly into this revised mythology as a best friend of Mina Harker, friend of Dr Frankenstein and sometime lover of a certain Dorian Grey.

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Vanessa Ives’ austere and glamorously gothic personal style is one of the definite highlights of the show for me – I love her black, jet sequin encrusted costumes, slightly dishevelled hair and goth accessorising. She looks amazing – sinister but alluring at the same time and, like a lot of you I expect, I like to pretend to myself that that’s how Eva Green dresses when she’s at home because she’s just that awesome.

Anyway, in time honoured Madame Guillotine style, let’s take a look at some contemporary dresses in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute that really evoke the gothic flair of Miss Ives’ amazing wardrobe and the demimonde of the second half of the nineteenth century.

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Dress, American, c1882. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. I think that Miss Ives would definitely approve of the flashes of red on this otherwise black dress.

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Dress, American, c1894. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, American, c1884. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, House of Worth, 1893. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dinner dress, Emile Pignet, c1880. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dress, American, c1869. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This dress just screams BEHOLD MY VAMPIRIC MAJESTY, doesn’t it? Amazing.

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Dress, American, c1887. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Miss Ives would DEFINITELY approve of the chain detailing on this amazing crimson dress.

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Ball gown, British, c1875. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Ball gown, British, c1878. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dress, American, 1890. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, French, 1880s. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dress, American, 1887. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dress, Mme Uoll Gross (American), 1889. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, Hoschedé Rebours (French), c1885. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Walking dress, French, c1893. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dinner dress, American, c1880. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Ball gown, House of Worth, c1896. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dress, American, c1889. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, American, c1884. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Evening dress, American, c1888. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Dinner dress, French, 1890. Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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As the youngest daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Marie Antoinette was born into a world of almost unbelievable privilege and power. As wife of Louis XVI of France she was first feted and adored and then universally hated as tales of her dissipated lifestyle and extravagance pulled the already discredited monarchy into a maelstrom of revolution, disaster and tragedy. Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History is now available from Amazon US and Amazon UK

Set against the infamous Jack the Ripper murders of autumn 1888 and based on the author’s own family history, From Whitechapel is a dark and sumptuous tale of bittersweet love, friendship, loss and redemption and is available NOW from Amazon UK, Amazon US and Burning Eye.

‘Frothy, light hearted, gorgeous. The perfect summer read.’ Minette, my young adult novel of 17th century posh doom and intrigue is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US and is CHEAP AS CHIPS as we like to say in dear old Blighty.

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3 thoughts on “Penny Dreadful

  • Kate H

    eva green is defo one of my ‘girl crushes’ …also keira knightly. its a brunette thing :p

  • Karen

    I just love your posts! Just imagine washing and caring for these dresses… Not something to be thrown in the washing machine and tumbler drier after one wear like we do today!

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