Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on March 7, 2012
A Tribute to the Biblical Costumes of Purim
If you have ever read the Book of Esther, the chances are good that you stopped at chapter 5 when the author penned, “On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace…” Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been intrigued by the story of Queen Esther, and I’ve always dreamt of what her “royal robes” would have looked like! Since this story doesn’t give us many details on the fashion history side of things, we don’t have an exact description of her outfits like we might of Princess Catherine’s most recent dress.
The Book of Esther in Hebrew - I love reading Hebrew almost as much as I love to sew!
Since today is the Biblical feast of Purim (described in Esther chapters 9 and 10), I thought I would take a look at how Esther’s gown might have been designed! Of course we can only guess at what that may have been, but somehow I have always invisioned Esther’s gown to be made with:
Silk charmeuse or something flowing
Long, trailing sleeves
Royal purple or vibrant teal fabric
Jewels or beadwork on the bodice
Embroidered gold threads
And lots of layers of silk chiffon fluttering down the skirt!
This painting shows a subdued version of what Esther may have worn. This could have been worn in Bible times by a wealthier woman, but probably not the Queen!
Since she was the queen of the most powerful empire of her day, she must have had the most exquisite gowns and dresses! Many artists have conceptualized what this may have been, but so far I have yet to see any painting or movie which I feel really does her wardrobe justice.
Here a very Middle Eastern gown is almost hidden beneath the garish jewelry and beading.
In 2006 the movie “One Night with the King” was released, and while I was so glad to see a rendition of this story in the theaters, I was disappointed with the storyline and a few of the costumes. A couple of the Esther gowns were lovely and very authentic, but one pink number looked like something a Disney princess would have worn, not to mention a satin design which drew its inspiration straight from the couture fashions of our day. (And I always imagined Esther as being sooo much prettier, too!)
So what costumes out there might pass for “Queen Esther” style? Well, the closest thing that comes to my mind is some of the lovely gowns worn by Olivia de Havilland in “The Adventures of Robin Hood“. While none of these are accurate to the ancient Persian fashions, they at least convey the feeling of a long, regal gown which Esther could have worn.
Here the draped sleeve, metallic fabric, and velvet cape lend a regal air to this ensemble.
This silver and blue gown looks very "Esther-like" to me, perhaps just because it's the traditional Israeli colors.
And while I hardly think Esther would have worn velvet, this burgundy gown with the almost mosaic-looking trim is absolutely stunning and certainly fit for a queen to wear!
What a gorgeous blend of textures and colors!
Perhaps Esther's gown might have been made from something similar to this bias-cut silk charmeuse...
And finally, here is a dress I made from some Middle Eastern silks that seemed to holler, “Queen Esther” as soon as I saw them! While it is far from being something they would have worn in Bible times, (it was in fact made from the bodice with shorter sleeves), this luxurious fabric is just what I imagined having worn for her momentous day. Purchased straight from a Middle Eastern silk market, it is a teal silk charmeuse with metallic silver paint over the top. The sleeves and yoke were made from a silk chiffon which was made in the exact same pattern.
Perhaps one of the many layers of Esther's gown could have been made from a silk fabric such as this one.
So while we will never know what exquisite treasures hung in Esther’s wardrobe, I can’t help but imagine what stunning dress she chose for the day she went in to plead with the king – and I can’t help but wonder if her lovely royal robes put the king in a good enough mood to grant her request!
I’d love to hear your thought on Esther’s wardrobe! Have you always envisioned something from reading the Biblical account?
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