22 Mar 2016

Portrait Of A Lady: Victoriana

portrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.com


One of my very favourite films is Portrait of a Lady.

Portrait of a Lady, starring Nicole Kidman is based on the Henry James novel of the same name.

The reasons I love the film and have watched it many times are for the setting and in particular the Victoriana style wardrobe.


portrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.comportrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.com


Portrait of A Lady is set in England, in Wiltshire.

Wiltshire is one of the most picturesque parts of the English countryside and Heale House, where much of the film was shot, is so architecturally beautiful I nearly cry every time I see it. Heale is the kind of house that gives me goose bumps all over, if you love homes and gardens like me, you will understand what I mean.

After Heale I start dreaming of another time and can almost envision myself in the English countryside wearing long skirts, lace blouses and hair up in an elaborate plaited coil. Of course I would be dripping with jewels as I wandered the garden devouring romance novels for my fancy.

I am not sure if my over blown and silly imagination is oftentimes more of a curse than an advantage.


portrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.com


The Victorian fashion style is one I have always admired.

The delicate nature of the fabrics, especially the laces and the tulles and the intricate details of the accessories has always resonated. Brooches and drop earrings, hair accessories and velvet bands are very feminine and pieces I have had in and out of my jewellery box over the years.

I have forever been a fan of the buttoned up blouse with a cameo style brooch at the neck or a less structured shirt with a pin on one of the shoulders; not to mention my badge fetish years ago that saw me pinning multiples onto my lapels. As for drop earrings, they are still and will always be my most loved style of earrings; I can probably blame the Victorians for that.


portrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.comportrait of a lady and victoriana, vickiarcher.com

This season fashion is favouring Victoriana.

I am so delighted to see an abundance of lace and frills, soft and beautiful fabrics mixing with harder edge style lace-up shoes and booties. The designers have had fun with Victoriana and included such wonderful pieces in their collections.

I have edited my list of Victoriana from Nordstrom’s Designer Collections. Truthfully, this style is one I truly adore so choosing a selection to show you was not easy.

I am thinking there are two ways to wear Victoriana.

The easiest and most practical is to mix one piece in a classic approach; a lace skirt with a simple tee or a lace shirt with a plain pencil skirt.

Alternatively, I would be tempted to add a pair of flats with an ornate buckle and dress my ears up too.

Certainly less is not more in this Victoriana case.

Victoriana style is one to interpret; let’s interpret. xv

Portrait Of A Lady: Victoriana

divine inspiration

marni horn and crystal drop earrings  //  simone rocha beaded brooch  //  manolo hangisi flat  //  manolo hangisi jewelled pump

erdem peplum top  //  lanvin lace blouse  //  proenza sshouler broderie anglaise top

oscar de la renta guipure lace skirt // simone rocha embellished midi dress  // paskal laser cut midi skirt // saint laurent bootie


don’t forget to watch the new video of Portrait of a Lady in EYSPYE 

images portrait of a lady, steven meisel, john singer sargent

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Wow! How did I miss that movie! Now that Downton Abbey is gone, we have another costume drama. A sight for sore eyes. I love Henry James.

Do you have any other movie recommendations?


I have so many Sharon… I shall write them up one day and share them… I dare admit to loving a movie or two… ;)


I don’t think I’ve ever seen Portrait of a Lady, adding to my list right now. I adore Victoriana, clothing, antiques, jewelry. At times everything Victorian is “in” , then ” out”, but what’s not to love about beautifully made, feminine style? Especially freshly interpreted by today’s designers. Although I am a huge fan of a true Victorian lace white blouse with jeans, or a stunning antique cameo pin worn with a contemporary outfit too.

Taste of France

It might have been luxurious for a certain class and type of woman, but I think those who had to work or who were bored by society’s constraints must have chafed at it. I’ll take the present, thank you!


Ooooo Vicki, I so can relate to your post today – I have Always loved Victoriana dressing. Eleven years ago, I used to collect prints of victorian women ( combing their hair in front of an ornate vanity, lying on a chaiselong, in a garden….) I still long to have actual paintings from John Waterhouse – I just love how he painted his women – so beautiful. The clothes were oh so feminine and I do have a few Victoriana style nightgowns. Lately, I am loving the lace dresses, tops and ruffles all over again!

Mimi Gregor

For you it’s Victoriana; for me, it’s Prohibition. I love the look of the 20s: the fringe and beads… the sheath dresses… the bobbed hair. I imagine that the period was like the hippie movement in the late 60s — basically a course correction after decades of stifling primness. Also, the look suits me better than the Victorian era would; with my small breasts and boyish figure, I’d be right at home there.


Hi Vicki
Yes Victorian era would have been stifling ! The corsets, and the cleaning! But I do love that era with its double standards. Steampunk is an interesting take on Victoriana. There is a whole genre for it, fashion and books.
Movies @sharon I can suggest The English Patient (Fiennes,Binnoch). Re visit all the Austen movies. Marie Antoinette.
There is a scary series set in Victorian times called Penny Dreadful. Timothy Dalton, Eva Green.

Mimi regor

Oh, I just love Eva Green’s wardrobe in this series, and am always commenting on it to my husband! I had my goth period once, and would have killed for a wardrobe like this!

Anita Rivera

Good morning Vicki! It is EASY to imagine ourselves in such settings. After watching Downton Abbey, I feel in love with the 20s style of dress. There was just more CARE in the way people dressed in times past, and even the less fortunate had a dress code. Today? Well, good fashion is still out there, but less people take it seriously, especially on the job. I love to see someone be creative with their wardrobe, and I can easily see any of these new fashions inspired by the past make new waves. Have a wonderful day! Anita


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