Ciel’s notorious Robin Dress™ REDESIGNED
As the Kuroshitsuji series continues, historic accuracy has gone way up thanks to Yana’s consulting of a Victorian Era expert. In the earliest chapters however, it seemed like Yana didn’t even have a clue what English people wore in the 1880s, and just googled some lolita dresses and slapped them onto her characters.
Costume-wise, the most iconic one of the series is definitely O!Ciel’s notorious Robin Dress (I mean, which other costume has an actual name that’s googleable?) This dress however, is really a historical amalgamation of all sorts, and knowing Yana, she probably would not have gone for this design today.
Let us break this costume down from top to bottom wherein I examine the historic inaccuracies, and how I propose to “correct” these while trying to keep as much of the original design intact as possible.
Head wear and hair
First of all, Victorians had clear distinctions between day wear and evening wear. Women were supposed to wear long sleeves and high necklines during day, and the opposite during night time events. Hats were rarely paired with short sleeved low-necklines, because the idea of the hat was to protect the wearer from the sun.
Wearing a hat indoors at night was not unlike wearing sunglasses indoors at night in present time. The hat is not salvageable. YEET.
I do understand Yana’s problem though; O!Ciel could not very much wear an eye patch as a proper lady, so what to do to conceal the contract sign? You think Victorian, and you think HATS👒🎩
I threw myself into a research hole to try find an alternative solution, but the results were rather disappointing. Victorians were not supposed to have anything dangling before their faces (Frances is right), because that was considered poor grooming. Veils ended up being my only option, though people usually did not wear veils unless for wedding or religious ceremonies.
But one poor option is better than no option at all, so veil it was. Paired with a few curls in front of his right eye and some lace, the contract seal can be covered up rather well (as long as he wouldn’t move too much).
Needless to say, Victorians would not have worn twin tails. 1880s Victorian women would wear their hair up, and having two curled tails dangling below became fashionable since the mid-Victorian Era.
Choker ribbon necklaces were worn by people in the 1880s, but they were not standard for fancy night time events. However, as it was technically not historically ‘inaccurate’, it can stay.
The neckline is more accurate and I have left it mostly the same. The only major problem is the silhouette, namely that in the 1880s, women would wear more streamlined shapes to make the shoulders seem smaller. Often they would have the shoulders/sleeves flare out at the bottom to make the waist seem smaller through contrast.
For the sake of streamlining I have made the top ruffles smaller and added more panels to the middle part according to the trend of pleated bertha collar.
The hat and the boots are technically 19th century accurate, but just not for the occasion. The waistline of the Robin Dress however, is the by far the biggest culprit in making this dress a historical abomination.
The mid-section of this dress seems to be made from one single piece of cloth. In the Victorian Era when waist reduction was top priority, the Robin Dress would have failed miserably in gaining the approval of high society.
The unstructured type of dress made from one continued panel of cloth was a thing of the 10th century before people figured out how to make proper waist seams. So yes, the Robin Dress is basically 900 years outdated.
Fashion is something that always gets revisited (see all the neo-XXX trends), so 900 years outdated does not necessarily have to be a problem. However, since the moment people discovered the technique to make a proper waist seam, they ditched the unstructured way of tailoring, and it would not really come back until the 1900s.
An unstructured waist-line was considered the height of sloppy appearance in O!Ciel’s time, and would make the tailor look like a complete amateur whose skills fell literal centuries behind.
Hence, for the sake of correction, I simply gave the dress a pointed waist and proper structure to avoid the fold in the original dress that would have been unacceptable in a proper evening gown.
The silhouette of the skirt is also somewhat outdated as the bell-shaped dress was something that fell out of fashion around the 1860s. Essentially O!Ciel was wearing a silhouette that was 30 years out of fashion.
(Imagine going to an official event in 2020 and looking like this.)
By O!Ciel’s time, the largest part of the skirt was the bustle that was a ‘MUST’ of the time, and the front was slimmed down. The hem of the skirt was worn shorter for younger girls, but for formal events like the party of the Viscount, the etiquette was floor length.
A wide skirt like that of the original design combined with the swagged design was something that was only briefly popular in the Rococo Era, which was approximately 150 years old by O!Ciel’s time.
The swagged skirt for decoration was not unacceptable in the 1880s, but the gather points would either have been hidden underneath the bustle, or gathered using something quite elaborate, like ruffles or flowers. One black ribbon would have been rather inadequate.
If not hidden or gathered with fancy ornaments, then the swagged fabric would have been heaved much higher, coming together near the waist.
So in my attempt to correct the skirt part, I both gathered the fabric higher and used the same roses to cover the gather points. Instead of the original black ribbon bows, I used the striped bow like the one at the chest for completion’s sake.
Technically the shoes are rather Victorian Era accurate, but boots were outdoor shoes, and generally not THAT high heeled because they were essentially made for a bit of walking. For formal events people would not have worn boots (we don’t do that either in 2020). Instead, the proper shoes for under a gown were pumps.
As the dress is floor length however, they would not be visible anyway, so I did not bother redesign them.
【Related post: Redesign: O!Ciel and Sebastian in different eras】
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MASTERPOST Furukawa Era Kuromyu
MASTERPOST Gender in Kuroshitsuji
MASTERPOST Analyses & Info
"Like this, the almost demonic night at the haunted mansion ended...
And each of us set out to return home.
The sky cleared up as if yesterday night had never existed. The orchestra of rain conducted by a demon had turned into the chirping of little birds.
However, for some reason, a small sense of discomfort had left a stain on my heart. Like a cloud that cast a shadow over a clear sky..."
Am I the only one who thinks Sebastian's "death" is like, actually hilarious?
He gets stabbed through the stomach with an iron poker by Earl Grey, who is honest to God trying to kill him (for no reason other than to hurt "that brat" Ciel),
then he has to keep up the facade of being dead for the next 24 hours all while simultaneously showing up at the manor in disguise as Jeremy Rathbone
and "solve" the mystery of the murders in a deliberately incorrect manor so that he can pin the blame on one of Ciel's enemies without even implicating Earl Grey, who actually tried to kill him.
Kuroshitsuji Scenery Pt 8
Part 8: Chapters 109-123
(other parts can be found here)
Ch 113: Buckingham Palace
Ch 114: Blood transfusion
“Direct transfusion of live blood performed on the 7th February 1882 by Dr. Roussel”
Ch 114: The Oxford Arms, Warwick Lane
Ch 119: Weston College (modeled after Eton College)
Ch 123: Pawn Broker (H. Hardcastle)
left: rebuilt for the York Castle Museum, right: original