French Provincial At The K.C. Irving Centre

The 65,000 square foot K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre at the Acadia University in Wolfville, has to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the Annapolis Valley. I really love this place and it’s wonderful architecture. Built in a classical almost Georgian styling, it nonetheless offers state of the art research and technology. There is a grandeur about it that is unsurpassed, yet all the while it maintains a comfortable and homey, well lit, conducive to learning environment. study irvingFirstly it is a place for study, research and instruction of the natural sciences, but it is also a place of gathering for both the University and the surrounding communities, and is a well used event and conference centre. It is a lovely place for a wedding reception for example.

The K.C. Irving centre was constructed in 1999 and along with the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens was built and donated to the University by Jim, Jack and Arthur Irving in memory of their beloved parents. The Irving family’s attachment to Acadia University began many years ago with K.C,  (Kenneth Collin) who attended there, and has continued with sons Jack and Arthur who are graduates there-of. Arthur is also the present day Chancellor of the University.

I had always wanted to do a shoot in this fantastic building and upon the completion of my 18th century French Provincial/Colonial Gown and matching Gentleman’s Coat, I once again began to imagine how wonderful these pieces would look with the Irving Centre as a back drop.

So,…I asked Man The Capstan crew members, my son David and good friend Katherine, to model these pieces and it did seem quite right, since, after all,  they are both Acadia University Alumni. Katherine gained permission from the building’s manager for us to take some photographs there. It was great fun and such a beautiful and appropriate setting.

This 18th Century gown and coat were created using a printed and embroidered fabric which I found locally at a home decor place. I have often found that the greatest fabrics to make 18th century clothing from are drapery type fabrics. Such was the case with this beautiful striped Antoinette blue and embroidered gold cotton. It caught my eye the moment I walked into the shop and I had to have it! As a matter of fact I bought enough to make two gown and coat sets! Which is indeed a good thing since they have already both been sold. I am obviously not the only one who loves the blue and gold stripe combination.

I trimmed the gown with ivory and gold Venise laces, beige Chantilly lace and satin ribbon. It is paired with an ivory brocaded petticoat or underskirt which is also trimmed in gold Venise lace. Also sold with this gown was a matching ivory chiffon fichu or neck scarf. I did purchase a plain 18″ flat crown straw hat to go with it and this I decorated with matching fabric, ribbon, Venise lace and one ivory ostrich feather.

When I make these gowns I try to make them so that they will fit at least several different sizes and I accomplish this by lacing the back of the gown and using about a three inch modesty panel so that the laces can be worn completely closed or open to varying degrees. I also do not attach the over skirt fully to the bodice and allow a portion of the skirt to remain free at the back closure. Using ribbon drawstring the skirt can be drawn tight or loosened and I find this feature effectively prevents the unsightly gaping and/or pulling that one often sees with these dresses. The bodice is fully lined and boned as well which gives it good shaping and structure. The matching Gentleman’s coat is lined and trimmed with matching gold Venise lace and brass coloured nautical anchor buttons and sells with a jabot. The pockets are faux. David is wearing his own breeches, waistcoat, shirt and boots.

We had a great time at Irvng Centre, and really, it was difficult to get any bad shots, the setting is so spectacular! Above is a photo of the wonderful winding staircase.

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