Chapter 36 - Dress Revolution
Ella remained silent as she began to think. There was no reason to answer quickly to ease the countess’s discomfort. Rumors of Cladis and Clara’s romance had been spreading among the students at the Academy. It was inevitable that people would compare Clara to Ella. Ella didn’t care if Clara became the crown princess. She didn’t, however, want to be compared to, let alone be described as inferior to Clara. Ella began brainstorming designs that would triumph Clara’s chemise dress. If Clara aimed for purity and cuteness, she had to strive for the complete opposite. ‘I need to look gorgeous, alluring but also noble-like. I need something unique. Let’s add a hint of sexiness that Clara wouldn’t dare to try.’
Now that she chose a concept for her design, she needed to brainstorm the details of the dress. She thought of the famous paintings she saw while she worked as a part-time travel guide in France to pay for her studies. Mixing modern style dresses with dresses from those paintings would create a design that would triumph over every dress present in this world.
Ella, after finding the most noble and beautiful design, was handed over the sketchbook from the Countess, and began to draw on it with the pen that Smila gave it to her. Ranhee’s skills as a pâtissier helped Ella to recreate the designs from her mind onto pieces of paper. Everyone was surprised by Ella’s ability to draw dress designs. After drawing four pages of designs within minutes, Ella handed one of them to the countess.
“I want detailed embroidery on a chemise with a round neckline. Let’s tell the master artisan to have it below the corset. The corset will accentuate the waistline. Pin the petticoat and the gown to the dress. We’ll use the petticoat to give the dress a round shape. We don’t need a pannier anymore.”
“But that will make it hard to maintain its shape.”
“We can add multiple layers of petticoats instead. Instead of distorting it with slight movements, we can maintain its natural shape with the petticoats. Use light cotton to make the gown wearable outdoors. Also, make it easy to move around in and ride a horse.”
“Then the gown should have some openings here.”
The countess reviewed the design and fixed parts of it. Although a few adjustments needed to be made by a professional, the final design didn’t deviate too much from the original. Ella then showed her a ball gown, but the countess immediately rejected it.
“My God, you can’t show your sleeves too much! How can a lady think of such a preposterous design! It is beautiful, I agree. But young ladies like yourself shouldn’t be wearing such dresses. We’ll fix this part like this.”
The countess worked on it immediately. Seemingly satisfied with it, she then created a few more designs, and Ella nodded. The next design was a simple princess line dress without any ribbons or ruffles.
“I’ll be wearing this inside the house, so no need for a corset or any accessories. Only use premium materials so that the dress will look gorgeous.”
“By premium, what are you specifically looking for?”
“I heard Count Wickan’s estate has been producing special kinds of clothes.”
“Yes, they are. I didn’t know you were aware of that.”
“One of our own products is its raw material. Naturally, I’m aware of this.”
The countess became excited at Ella’s explanation that was being told with a shy smile. All of the suggestions that she thought were boring were actually unique on their own. Ella’s simple dress had inspired her creative mind. By the time Ella gave her the final design, the countess was sitting next to Ella, trying to include every detail that Ella requested.
The last design was a traditional rococo style dress that wasn’t out of trend in this world. It was also a design that relied on the natural body instead of a pannier. Although it wasn’t anything extraordinary, it was simple in its beauty. The countess was shocked by this because she thought that the only way to make a dress was to make it more pronounced by making it larger.
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking of following your suggestions, my lady. My impression of you was wrong.”
“Yes, but it has changed. Of course, it has. Such a beautiful dress! I’m ashamed I couldn’t think of it myself.”
“I’m glad I was helpful.”
“No, no. It was more than helpful. It was revolutionary!”
The countess praised Ella for the ideas that helped to stimulate her creative mind and for giving her more designs. Then, the countess saw the hideousness of the dress that Ella had brought for her to see. She looked away as if she had seen something gross. The countess then affectionately looked at Ella. It seemed like love was pouring out from her eyes. She was also fidgeting her both hands like she could not resist her hand from moving.
Ella smiled. The countess’s reaction was like Ranhee’s. Whenever she wanted to work on a new idea, she didn’t have enough time. It was apparent that the countess will be busy creating dresses.
Among the nobles in the empire, the countess belonged to a lower class. Despite that, she was well-respected in noblewomen society. Many wished to wear the dresses that she designed, and her words often decided their futures. The countess often assessed these ladies and critiqued them. Her words could turn a gorgeous perfect lady into an imperfect one and vice versa. Ella, having to compete with Clara, desperately wanted the countess’s approval. Currently, she was far from being seen as a perfect charming lady. Instead, she was seen as a book-loving intellect, which was unusual for a noblewoman.
‘A lady who had not let go of a book at such an age. Is it a compliment or what?’ In her current state, she was bound to look like a woman who got dumped by the crown prince because of her lack of charm. She needed to fix this before she announced her decision to end this engagement. What she needed most was a new dress.
“I want the dress as soon as possible. When can you finish it? I need to go out tomorrow.”
“It will take a few days for the first dress, as it needs to be worked by a master artisan. If it is okay to use the corset you have now, I can probably get it done by tomorrow. Your new dress will be ready within two or three days after that.”
“Please. I would appreciate that.”
The countess was usually one to stay calm, but she couldn’t this time. With Ella’s permission, she quickly ran out with her apprentices to go work on those dresses.
After the countess left, Ella asked the duchess the question she wanted to ask yesterday. “Are you alright with my decision?”
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