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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
Did You Ever Notice... Arwen's Mourning Gown?

Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Apr 17 2008, 7:58pm

Post #1 of 18 (6343 views)
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Did You Ever Notice... Arwen's Mourning Gown? Can't Post



Midnight blue silk velvet gown that is reminiscent of a human cotehardie mixed with elven styles. Wider and deeper neckline than many of her gowns. A curved "V" neck. It opens at center with a triangle wedge of bright red fabric that's been heavily aged. Matching red sash belt, Wide elven sleeves. Gown is quite fitted in the upper torso. The row of small gold buttons (11) goes down the front stopping at a low pointed waist. This is fake front (non-functioning buttons) so there will be an invisible zipper in the back. The gown has about a two foot train and lots of fabric pools around the sides and back. Around the upper arms and neckline is a heavily embroidered, beaded, and aged trim. At the neckline this trim has been folded over so it's only half as wide as the trim at the arms.





The image on the left is the trim at the neckline, the armband trim is on the right. There's an entire page devoted to the study of this trim here.



As always, the places to go for more details and pictures are Alley Cat Scratch and The Costumer's Guide. Both of these sites have researched this dress down to finding the exact buttons used!

So, any thoughts on this dress?

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squire
Half-elven


Apr 17 2008, 11:07pm

Post #2 of 18 (4908 views)
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How does the immodesty of the low neckline comport with the idea of mourning? [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't get me wrong, I love the gown, like all of Ngila's creations. It's just not cut like I would imagine a set of widow's weeds should be. Look at the almost absurd veil, with its mosquito-netting cowl for the expanse of neck and chest!

Am I misreading this? Can the Elves do whatever they please with costume, so I shouldn't apply our own (Human?) standards?

On another level, I am intrigued by the beautiful detail of the red triangle at the V of the neckline, that is picked up by the sash. Gorgeous, and clever!

But again, I wonder: does the red have a symbolism? Is that sash and that dart supposed to suggest the presence of Death, or Blood, or Passion? Or is the sash a binding symbol, representing Faith or Troth: it girdles the hips, where the child is; while the dart refers to the heart, I guess. Together, they might be the Marriage Vow...

I love medieval clothing! They were so into this stuff, and here we have to guess if the designer is following their lead, or going somewhere else entirely!



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


weaver
Half-elven

Apr 18 2008, 12:08am

Post #3 of 18 (4834 views)
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hmm.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well first I give you points for using the word "comport"...Smile

And then I give you more points for making me think the veil is both ceremonial and functional -- it does a good job of covering not only her face but her "modesty". I grant you though, it's a bit over the top. But she is the Queen after all...maybe this is just the deluxe model of a mourning gown in Gondor...?

Weaver



Alcarcalime
Tol Eressea


Apr 18 2008, 1:12am

Post #4 of 18 (4829 views)
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I love the dress, also... [In reply to] Can't Post

but perhaps it isn't a mourning dress, per se. Perhaps it is just something dark she already had. Besides the reason it is low cut is that Liv looked so good in low cut dresses.


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Apr 18 2008, 9:11am

Post #5 of 18 (4854 views)
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I think this is so stunning [In reply to] Can't Post

It's simplicity with elegant features works for me. The red accents would have to do, imho, with a broken heart or bleeding from a wound to be a bit more graphic. I'd never seen this image of the dress outside the scene in the film. I really love it! It follows her usual style other than her riding suit. For someone who has felt devastating sadness, that veil that shrouds one like falling rain or being covered with a blanket has a soothing influence that would befit the mood (for lack of a better word).

This is all good, again imho. The whole outfit flows like a dark rainfall... symbolism of mournful weeping.






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(This post was edited by grammaboodawg on Apr 18 2008, 9:13am)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 18 2008, 7:41pm

Post #6 of 18 (4884 views)
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Are low necklines automatically immodest? [In reply to] Can't Post

Or is that really in the eye of the beholder? Arwen never looks immodest to me - she looks like a confident woman in her prime, dressing in a way that emphasises her womanhood but not in terms of trying to please men. What I'd call "immodest" would be the Galadriel you posted a while back. Galadriel's "accidentally" slipping neckline looks much more immodest, in the sense that it's deliberately trying to draw the eye, than Arwen's dress. Galadriel looks like a man's image of an ideal woman, perhaps, but it's not one that I, from my female perspective, could ever take seriously.

Arwen's décolletage in her mourning gown seems to me to emphasise the fact that, although her husband has died of old age, she's still a woman in her prime, full of life and warmth. I don't know what the red trim is meant to symbolise (if anything), but in the movie the scene is so dark that it isn't really experienced as red (at least not by me...), but just as a kind of depth and richness emphasising the black of the dress (and perhaps also emphasising the richness of life that remains in the wearer). This is all by way of illustrating Arwen's fate, to live on, still full of life and warmth herself, but with no-one to share it with, "until all the world is changed, and the long years of your life are utterly spent."

I assume that costume designers take into account the requirements of the scene, in terms of both its emotion and its staging, and that may also have something to do with the design of the veil, which certainly does look odd in repose on the mannequin, but is shown in the movie being blown about Arwen's face and body to give some life and movement to an otherwise static scene.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Arwen's daughter
Half-elven


Apr 18 2008, 8:21pm

Post #7 of 18 (4816 views)
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Some thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that the image of the bundled and covered widow is a fairly modern one. To my knowledge, mourning attire has always mirrored the fashions of the time, so that if women of Arwen's day wore low necklines (and it's likely they did considering their queen's fashion sense) then their mourning attire would also include them. I don't think that it was until Victorian times that women got really serious about their mourning dress. But now I'm going to have to look all of this up!

Anne of Denmark showed plenty of decolletage in mourning clothes in 1612. Unfortunately, Tolkien never describes mourning clothes for the elves.

It's also easy for me to imagine Arwen being so heartbroken that a maid or a daughter had to arrange for the dress and just went with what would make her look regal and gorgeous. And I agree with FarFromHome that the filmmakers wanted to keep her looking young. If they had put her in a high collared dress, I think non-readers could believe she was in old age. After all, the flashforward is so short that it has to rely on visual clues to the audience. It's a movie shortcut to add a little grey in the hair and put high collars on women to show they've aged.

The red is something I've wondered about before but only just now really started to think about. Ngila says that she used red as a color for royalty, and indeed Aragorn does seem to be buried in red. Maybe it's just a visual tie to him. But looking back through Arwen's wardrobe, the only other time she wears this dark blue/red color combination is her dying dress. She doesn't wear pure red any other time, though some other red-ish colors do pop up now and then (like her Cranberry gown). I lean toward the red as being symbolic of death, but I think that all of your ideas might have been running through Ngila's mind. It's so much fun to play with!

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overlithe64
Rivendell


Apr 18 2008, 11:15pm

Post #8 of 18 (4757 views)
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oh... [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree and would like to add...I love the scene and the dress. but is the dress designed to be a mourning dress? I know it is her mourning dress but....let me see if I can put this to words that make sense.

The dress itself invokes strong emotion....most likely all of the accents and design specifics mentioned here. I think making it obvious how vibrant and alive Arwen still was when Aragorn passed strengthened the emotional pull of the scene. Talk about the love of a life time....how long were they in love? How long did they wait...how long were they together and yet still she appeared as she always had.....To me it emphasizes how long she will now indeed be left alone to mourn in bitterness, strengthening the words of Elrond played over the entire scene.

Yeah the dress says all that to me....I am young I am alive and I will be alone until the end.


squire
Half-elven


Apr 19 2008, 2:06am

Post #9 of 18 (4790 views)
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Great points [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for those - I see what you mean about the contrast between Aragorn's death and Arwen's long life yet to come. Really good thinking.

I would suggest, however, that although the neckline is not as tantalizing as some (yeah, Galadriel, baby!), it is definitely lower-cut than most of the other women's gowns in the film (not to mention most of the medieval gowns I've seen pictures of - it was the Little Ice Age, after all). That does project Arwen as a traditional modern film image of a sexual woman. More exactly, with Arwen as one of the few women in the film and the hero's love interest, it's in the costume designer's interest to display Liv Tyler's charms as much as possible, period or not, and Elvish or not.

But again, I really like your explanation too.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


L. Ron Halfelven
Grey Havens


Apr 19 2008, 2:34am

Post #10 of 18 (4779 views)
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You should see some of the stuff she wore back when she was 2000. [In reply to] Can't Post

That was her rebellious phase. Elrond finally had to summon a council of the Free Peoples and tell them that one of them had to put his foot down.




FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 19 2008, 7:04am

Post #11 of 18 (4803 views)
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You may be right [In reply to] Can't Post

But to me, Arwen's look doesn't translate as sexual so much as nurturing and even maternal. That's what female breasts are really about after all. She's maternal with Frodo, and nurturing and supportive with poor old dithering movie-Aragorn.

One scene that always comes into my mind when there's a discussion of Arwen's necklines is this one. How that dress even stays on I'll never know! Wink But this is a scene with Elrond, about Arwen's future motherhood. And I think the look is about the strength of Arwen's broad, nurturing bosom, not about making her look like a hottie (although if it does that too, sure, why not?).Cool

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Elven
Valinor


Apr 20 2008, 6:14am

Post #12 of 18 (4741 views)
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Another beautiful dress ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Im a bit suprised that the blue is not darker - but this dress really accentuates Liv's eyes. The tones in the red sash and the neckline 'V' are very suited to her skin colouring, not too bright - very subtle for such a contrast. I like the idea of the symbology - just as Aragorns cloak contained the red lining, which we see a flash of it as he turns to go into battle "for Frodo" ... Red on a cloak has different symbolism to other reds on garment pieces - but Arwens colours represent her mourning states - the blue of peace, purity, contemplation, introspection and yearning. The red for blood, fire, passion and protection. Sashs were often worn as a 'protective element' from harm or danger of outside 'forces'.
I love the veil - I loved the way it moved and its sheerness.

Cheers
Elven x


Tolkien was a Capricorn!


Tolkien Forever
Gondor

Apr 23 2008, 12:44am

Post #13 of 18 (4694 views)
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Question [In reply to] Can't Post

Dd Did You Ever Notice Arwen's Mourning Gown?

Is that anything like an evening gown? Wink Ever Notice... Arwen's Mourning Gown?


bookgirl13
Lorien


Apr 23 2008, 3:46pm

Post #14 of 18 (4717 views)
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Youthful Arwen [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that the gown really did emphasise her youth, which made it all the poignant that Aragorn was dead, and had obviously aged in contrast to her agelessness. I also thought that the decolletage emphasised the veiling and made her sadness even more arresting. A high necked gown would not have allowed the veil to be so shocking. It always reminds me of the Veiled Vestal by Monti, which is at Chatsworth. (This statue appeared in the recent Pride & Prejudice film with Keira Knightly.)

The whole approach of that costume and scene in LotR was a lovely echo of Arwen's despair at the end of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in the Appendices.

Liv looked good as well Wink


Darkstone
Immortal


Apr 23 2008, 5:11pm

Post #15 of 18 (4720 views)
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The Girl in the 1830 Convertible [In reply to] Can't Post

This looks like it’s inspired by the English gowns of the 1830 period. They also had the “grand neckline” of various previous eras. Of course ladies didn’t usually go around with the plunging décolletage uncovered. During the day they would wear a detachable collar, say an airy lace one for a hot day, and a nice warm fur trimmed one for the cold. During inclement weather they would attach a sort of small cape and hood that covered the décolletage, the head, and the shoulders. But at night the collar would come off. The large expanse of décolletage was a perfect frame for displaying jewelry. (During the 1830s the industrial revolution was in full swing, and the nouveaux riche wanted to show off their wealth.) Often a lady might decorate the juncture of her neckline and her cleavage with a red rose. This was either to hide her cleavage for modesty’s sake, or else to specifically draw attention to it. (Who knows?)

I note that Awren’s gown has that little bit of red to represent the rose. I also note that the Evenstar was memorable by its prominent and solitary (and thus quite memorable) display in the frame of the neckline of the earlier gown. And here it is quite conspicuous by its absence. One cannot miss that now the Evenstar (and Elessar, and Hope) is gone. Quite nice symbolism.

Anyway, back to 1830. The utilitarian gown would also be suitable for mourning. Crepe (a very thick and heavy veil) could be easily attached for appearances in public and quickly removed when in private. The crepe veil would obscure all features. Indeed, doctors of the time were quite concerned about the health of women wearing such thick material. They recommended that it be sparingly worn, though society usually dictated that a widow mourn for six months. As a compromise, the neckline was usually kept low under the veil so as to keep pressure off a lady's chest, so as to hopefully provide for easier breathing, lessen the frequency of fainting, and ameliorate the chance of suffocation.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



grammaboodawg
Immortal


Apr 23 2008, 6:29pm

Post #16 of 18 (4685 views)
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No. [In reply to] Can't Post

It's more like an elevensies gown. ;)



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Trust him... The Hobbit is coming!

"Barney Snow was here." ~Hug like a hobbit!~ "In my heaven..."


TORn's Observations Lists


Kementári
Registered User

Apr 25 2008, 4:29am

Post #17 of 18 (4688 views)
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A perfect dress for a woman who walks in both worlds [In reply to] Can't Post

This is one of my favorite dresses, and though I haven't much to add to the discussion about the colors or the neckline, I would like to point out some of the details about the neckline that I think illustrates even more about her character than just the modesty or immodesty of the neckline and veil. She, as their queen, by the time of Aragorn's death, has been living with the humans for a long time and indeed her own people have long been over the sea, she is the only elven being in remaining in Middle Earth. This dress is the perfect blending of both the elven and human costume designs and concepts.

Her sleeves are elven, all of the sleeves on all the gowns are long and loose on all of the dresses in the movies. However, it is only with the human dresses that we get the armband on the top sleeve. Here, she has the inordinately long length (elven), but she has now the armband (human). Also, the only V neck dresses we see in the movies are worn by the human women (i.e. Eowyn), as well as the beading on the neckline. Arwen's mourning gown has both of these detailings, more stately and more elaborate, but she is the queen after all. Her elven roots are showing through the hand dyed silk velvet and length of the train, which only show up on the elven dresses. Also, notice her hair, tied up more like the humans than left loose like the elves. She is still glorious and glowing, but decidedly influenced by her time as the queen of Gondor.

I do, I love this dress. I think it was even more brilliant than some of the others, with clear foresight and planning and thinking about what she would look like those hundred years after the end of the war. HeartHeartHeart


EagleoftheStars
The Shire


Jul 20 2008, 10:27pm

Post #18 of 18 (4745 views)
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of course... [In reply to] Can't Post

I noticed and Liv Tyler looked so beautiful in it but I felt Arwen's pain for the passing of Aragorn really hit her hard. Unsure

I Heart her.

'After the War the ruling stewards came to an end, for the heir of Isildur returned and the kingship was renewed, and the standard of the White Tree flew once more from the Tower of Ecthelion'

 
 

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