The RMS Titanic had my heart long before James Cameron’s Titanic hit theatres late in 1997. I can remember studying buoyancy in the second grade science class. We were all given lumps of plasticine and instructed to create something that would float. I made the Titanic (or some rough, 7-year-old approximation of it). It sunk like a rock. James’ Titanic just amplified my love… exponentially. From love to hard-core obsession. All through junior and senior high I was “that girl that likes Titanic” to most people.
In addition to running a gigantic Titanic fansite (which has heaps of photos and lots of costume information), I also re-created many of the costumes. My first few efforts, circa the 8th grade, were pretty mediocre, owing to my sub-standard sewing skills, lack of experience, and desire to finish the costume quickly rather than well.
Out of all of Rose’s stunning, be-sequined dresses, the one fans call “The Dinner Dress” quickly became my favourite. I mentally wrestled with it for years, trying to determine how it could possibly fit together in the third dimension. The endless supply of inaccurate tips and reproductions from other fans didn’t do much to help. I did, however, finally figure it out!
The dress has two parts: a lined underdress made of coral-coloured taffeta, and a heavily embellished and carefully draped overdress, made of a fine, sheer black netting.
The underdress is pretty simple. It’s a princess seam gown with a slightly flared skirt leading out to a square train at the back. The sleeves are cap. The zipper (though not an era-appropriate fastening, it takes nothing from the look of the dress and adds heaps of simplicity) is in the left side-back seam. There is no centre-back seam as the back panel is just one piece.
The overlay is where things get tricky and diagram-requiring. It consists of two pieces, one of which has four ‘slats’ on it, which are simply slathered in sequins, rhinestones, and embroidery.The seam attaching the two pieces runs down the right front-side seam, fitted to the body using a bejewelled pin. The second piece is attached to the top of the dress, running around until it reaches the zipper. At that point it isn’t sewn in anymore (so the dress can be put on, of course), but continues along the top of the dress with hooks & eyes. It then drapes down, fastening at the side-waist under the arm with another pin, and draping down into a train.
Now, a few photos to clarify:
Well, I hope that helps! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. And, if you’ve ever made your own Dinner Dress (or any costume from Titanic, for that matter), I’d love to see it!