Isn’t that a wonderful word? I just love the sound of it! I came across the word years ago, when i bought the “Phantasmagoria” album by The Damned. Then i encountered it again in the movie “Gothic”, which i absolutely LOVE (and i am definitely a minority here), loosely based on a crazy weekend with Lord Byron, John Polidori and Percy and Mary Shelley that inspired the writing of the classic literary horrors they are known for. In “Gothic” they all took a bunch of laudanum, had a seance, read ghost stories from a book called “Phantasmagoria” and then had terrifying visions all night. Whoooohooo for a wild party. Heh!
Anyway, it’s a cool word with some cool meanings….from Wikipedia:
A modified type of magic lantern was used to project images onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, frequently using rear projection. The projector was mobile, allowing the projected image to move on the screen, and multiple projecting devices allowed for quick switching of different images. Frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts were projected.
Leipzig, Germany, a coffee shop owner named Johann Schröpfer began offering séances in a converted billiards room which became so popular that by the 1760s he had transformed himself into a full-time showman, using elaborate effects including projections of ghosts to create a convincing spirit experience. In 1774, he committed suicide, apparently a victim of delusions of his own apparitions.Versailles was home to several significant developments in this field. In the 1770s François Seraphin used magic lanterns to perform his “Ombres Chinoises” (Chinese shadows), a form of shadow play, and Edme-Gilles Guyot experimented with the projection of ghosts onto smoke.
Paul Philidor created what may have been the first true phantasmagoria show in 1789, a combination of séance parlor tricks and projection effects, his show saw success in Berlin, Vienna, and revolution-era Paris in 1793.
The most famous of the ghost showmen was the Belgian inventor and physicist from Liège, Etienne-Gaspard Robert, more commonly known by his stage name Etienne Robertson. In 1797 Robertson took his show to Paris. The macabre atmosphere in the post-revolutionary city was perfect for Robertson’s elaborate creations. In an abandoned Capuchin crypt in Paris, he staged hauntings, using several lanterns, special sound effects and the eerie atmosphere of the tomb, he terrified many audiences.
|“I am only satisfied if my spectators, shivering and shuddering, raise their hands or cover their eyes out of fear of ghosts and devils dashing towards them”|
It was not long before Robertson was touring Russia and Spain, and the idea of the theatrical ghost show spread across Europe and to the U.S. He is buried with appropriately gothic statuary in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
In 1801 a phantasmagoria production by Paul Philidor (a stage name for Paul Philipsthal taken from the famous chess player Phildor) opened in London’s Lyceum Theatre in the Strand, where it became a smash hit.
Many of the phantasmagoria showmen were a combination of scientists and magicians, many of them stressing that the effects that they produced, no matter how eerily convincing, were in fact the result of ingenious equipment and no small measure of skill, rather than any supernatural explanation. This even extended as far as the exhibitions at the Royal Polytechnic Institution demonstrating the “Pepper’s ghost” effect in the 1860s.
|“||…although the phantasmagoria was an essentially live form of entertainment these shows also used projectors in ways which anticipated 20th century film-camera movements - the ‘zoom’, ‘dissolve’, the ‘tracking-shot’ and superimposition.||”|
Phantasmagoria is also the title of a poem in seven cantos by Lewis Carroll that was published by Macmillan & Sons in London in 1869
So, obviously, Phantasmagoria was the inspiration for this skirt i completed today. I found the white cotton tiered skirt at eh thrift shop a while back, and dyed it with chai tea.
I had a head full of visions of Ghostly Couture…. I bustled up the side, sewed it down, and sewed in panels from a vintage lace tablecloth that is slowly disintegrating, as well as a few pieces of teadyed lace ribbon. I hand stitched it all down firmly, then stitched on a vintage doilie accent, and sewed on some pearl, bead and mother of pearl button embellishments. It’s very tattered, looks like it’s right out of the crypt. I think it will continue to gently tatter and soften up as it’s worn, making it even more “phantom-esque”. I love how it turned out, but handsewing through all those layers was rough! From the inside, it actually looks quilted, which is think it pretty nifty, all those little stitches in a spiraling pattern!
It’s one of those rare occasions when i was able to perfectly re-create what i had envisioned in my head, which makes me ridiculously happy.
I am crazy in love with it…it looks so much prettier and floatyghosty on a live person than it does in the dressform…it has alot of movement and the layers of lace are so wonderfully ragged and lovely, and you get to see a modest bit of leg, too. I think it would look wonderful with lace tights, or perhaps stripy stockings:) It was a real joy to use cast-off, disintegrating old textiles and thriftstore pieces to re-imagine into something lovely. It’s good to have the Muse back in the house!
Hoping you are all having a wonderful haunted day!