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"When Was That Worn?" - Fashion History in the Haunted Mansion

CraftyFox

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

"When Was That Worn?"

Greetings and salutations, it's long time lurker @CraftyFox. I've had a persistent obsession with the Haunted Mansion for as long as I can remember. The same can be said for clothing design and fashion history. In this thread I will be gruesomely conjoining my twin obsessions into a single journey to attempt to date each and every one of the ghosts- and paintings- in the mansion exclusively by the attire they're wearing (and probably hair and accessories . I know my ramblings are likely of interest only to myself but I haven't seen this kind of thing discussed in much detail besides in a few passing comments. Hopefully someone might derive something interesting or helpful out of my crazed ramblings!

1869LaToiletteDeParis.jpg

"The happy haunts have received your sympathetic vibrations and are beginning to materialize. They’re assembling for a swinging wake, and they’ll be expecting me… I’ll see you all a little later."
 

CraftyFox

Well-Known Member
Original Poster

When Was That Worn: Constance Hatchaway

I'm starting off this deep dive into the costumes of the Haunted Mansion with the character that first sparked someone to ask me, "when was that worn": Constance Hatchaway. Thanks to the presence of both a full body projection- showing the overall silhouette of the garment- and the numerous paintings of her strewn about the attic, we get a pretty good look at her overall dress design.

ConstanceHatchaway.jpg
The first thing to analyze whenever you're trying to date an outfit is the silhouette. The overall fashionable shape of clothing actually changes quite significantly. Constance's gown, as pictured here, appears to have a rather simple silhouette, lacking any kind of crinoline or bustle to date this dress anytime between 1830 to 1885. This style of wedding dress is actually extremely common at the start of the 20th century. Around 1897 the fashionable style moved away from the huge puffed sleeves associated with the late Victorian "Gay '90s" style and moved to a more streamlined, Edwardian style. Nearly all the key aspects of this style are seen in Constance's dress: the high neckline with embroidery, heavy lacework, wide sash, and gathered bodice.

The front pleating and embroidery are strikingly similar to this extant gown from 1907:
1907WeddingDress.jpg
This time period revelation is honestly not much of a surprise seeing as Disney's Go-To style for anything "Late Victorian" is generally either 1890's Gigot Style (as was most commonly romanticized in the forties and fifties) or the kind of Edwardian Gibson Girl influence we see here. It's a rather simply silhouette and style to accomplish, with the corseted waist being essentially the only element of shapewear or specialty undergarment in play.

The sleeves on the garment quite closely resemble this 1902 fashion plate advertising the latest style of bridal gown:

1902WeddingDress.jpg


So, if one were to attempt to date Constance's wedding dress by its historical timeframe, the best estimate would be from around:
1897 - 1907

This dress was actually surprisingly easy to find the stylistic inspiration for, seeing as it appears to be a nearly direct rip of an Edwardian wedding dress, sharing nearly all of the most common characteristics associated with the period. Whether or not this timeframe actually fits Constance's story is debatable but the goal of this series is, after all, to date the characters by their clothes alone. This interestingly brings up an issue when discussing her stretching room portrait, as the style of dress she wears in it as an old woman is also from around the turn of the century. Continuity errors aside, I hope you all enjoyed this brief analysis (or unnecessary exploration) of Constance Hatchaway's wedding dress, its style influences, and most likely time period. I hope you all stick around for next time when I discuss... well- I haven't quite decided yet. Thank you for making it this far, I'll see you all a little later.
 

Pepper's Ghost

Well-Known Member
This is an interesting project or concept for a thread. I do want to mention however not to read too deeply into your findings. In the creation of the ride, we know that Imagineers went to great lengths to try and make things as accurate and authentic as possible, but nothing they did was done with the idea that it would be heavily scrutinized by an expert.

I'm sure if a musical expert were to take a close look at the instruments "floating" in Leota's seance room, they'd probably find that they're not period correct, or they might not even be real instruments and are exaggerated recreations. Same with something like the knight's suit of armor, the 13-hour clock, individual gravestones, etc.

I mention this only because there is a strong possibility that in the creation of the ride, Imagineers may have simply gone to garage sales to find an "old wedding dress" or other such props for the ride without looking for items from a specific period of time. Many others were built in backrooms created specifically for the ride. I'm fairly certain that much won't hold up to scrutiny. Sorry, I'm not trying to rain on your parade and have no idea what you'll end up finding, but I'm guessing there will likely be a fair amount of not-period-correct clothing in the mansion. If/when that happens, I totally expect defenders to come out and say that the ghosts are not all necessarily from the same period of time and found their way to the mansion from different periods, etc. Just something to keep in mind.
 

JIMINYCR

Well-Known Member
In "The haunted Mansion, Imagineering a Disney Classic", they have dated Constance, the Black Widow Bride, marriages in order as...
to Ambrose 1869
to Frank 1872, date not in the book but found on another site
to The Marquis 1874
to Reginald 1875
and to George 1877
 
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