Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who is John Burbidge?

Les Petites Dames de Mode
Mr. Burbidge, Senior Designer (retired) for the famed bridal house of Priscilla of Boston, started his project in the 1970’s, the collection of his little ladies represents the culmination of almost 30 years of research and exacting effort. A member of the Costume Societies of America and England, Burbidge was first inspired by an exhibit he visited as a World War II GI in Paris. He later visualized a series of historically-correct costumes on a group of “perfect little ladies,” reduced in scale, wherein one could enjoy in a sweeping glance the fashionable elegance of a time gone by. Amazingly, each outfit is an original design by Burbidge who after extensive study, imagined himself working as a designer of the period.
His creations are currently on display at Ventfort Hall, which is now the Museum of the Gilded Age, in the Berkshires. “Les Petites Dames de Mode,” is an extraordinary exhibit of 59 miniature ladies dressed in exquisitely detailed gowns and coiffed with real human hair. The 59 stunningly beautiful miniature “fashion models” portray the history of women’s fashion from 1855 to 1914. Click here for more info about the exhibit: Ventfort Hall
You can buy an autographed book of this collection here: Book

I do hope it is true "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" as I have created my miniature copy of his Spring Watering Place dress. His mannequins are 29" tall(very top), mine only 5 1/ 2" tall figure(above). I have had to simplify some of the items for presentation on such a small figure but I would hope Mr. Burbidge would be proud of my attempt. This pattern, La Petite Belle Pattern 5033, and fabric kit can be purchased from minidolls.com. Create your vision today. I have also included pictures of some of the other ladies in his collection (below) for inspiration, Mr Burbidge is picture in the center. To see more of the figures click here: Exhibit.


After posting this I decided to look up more on John Burbidge. Here is more info:
JOHN AND CILE BURBIDGE WEDDING GOWN DESIGN COLLECTION, 1968-1985, 1998
John Burbidge was a creative and prolific fashion designer for the Priscilla of Boston wedding gown company from the late 1940s to 1985. Burbidge, born in 1922, went to work for the Priscilla of Boston firm in 1948, after graduating from the New England School of Art and Design and serving for three years in the Army during World War II. He started out operating a button machine and gradually worked his way up to designing. His technique involved clipping photographs of models from magazines, laying tracing paper over the cut-out, and tracing the figure, onto which he added his design. After creating, in his words, "hundreds" of sketches and doodles, he would work out the details in muslin. Eventually he achieved status as Priscilla Kidder's favorite designer and was known for his use of certain features, such as bows, bustled backs, puffed sleeves and "star" bodices. The high point in his career with Priscilla of Boston was in 1971 when he designed the wedding dress worn by President Nixon's daughter Tricia at her White House wedding to Edward Cox. The design had a strong influence on wedding fashion, though the design used was never duplicated by the company. Since leaving Priscilla of Boston, Burbidge has made a second career designing and creating dolls in elegant historic costume, while Burbidge's wife, Cile Bellefleur-Burbidge, designs and creates elegant and elaborate wedding cakes.

3 comments:

Dolores said...

I just love this young lady. I have been looking at the Masterpiece Theatre and am amazed at how much they look alike. I also just love Kathi's work.

elisabethN said...

John Burbidge is one of the most talented and wonderful men I have been lucky to know. He is so very talented and his dolls have been an inspiration to my work throughout my artistic "life". Thank you SO very much for posting this article.

Andromeda Williams said...

I think I have found my muse!