The latest news is that my friend says she's ordered A Room of One's Own and is excited about it. This tipped me into a stammery nervous fit of "Oh my God you really meant it oh God but do bear in mind it's of its time in some ways... um, more ideas to come... oh God please don't give up on feminism if it turns out this was the wrong thing to give you!" To which she blithely responds she's sure she'll love it, though she's eager for more. She says, "I'm feeling very open-minded."
ONE OF US! ONE OF US!
I'm just jaw-flooring over this, honestly. I can hardly believe it's possible to get here from such an extreme position at all, let alone so fast. Clearly, that it is possible is a very, very good thing. I'm so happy for my friend. It's just so good it's a little frightening.
Secondly, it's been over two weeks, so let's have some more Romanitas pictures. We had a look at Marcus last time. To come are Una, Sulien, Varius, Dama, Lal and Drusus and Noriko, and possibly others. But for now, lets look at some very different ladies of the Imperial Family.
(click to view larger).
Women's clothes are always both easier and more fun, really. Women's fashion has long been so sprawling and appropriated so many influences, that "Modern Roman" is not as difficult a register to hit as it is when trying to design for men. Tulliola was particularly enjoyable to draw. I always thought of her as having a slightly 1950's quality - I thought it fit well with a character who's very good at projecting a combination of sexiness and demureness which, from a modern perspective can be seen as alluring, familiar and possibly a little bit unnerving all at once. And there's something about the gorgeous 1950's takes on Roman style that while not particularly useful as a source for other aspects of the modern Roman world, were great for inspiration for a palace culture where conservatism and intrigue are scraping alongside each other like tectonic plates
Makaria,of course, who would rather be on her Greek island pruning trees, dresses like a peasant by comparison (or that's what Drusus thinks, anyway), though everything she's wearing is actually very expensive. The poor thing would probably fit into a royal family where tweeds and wellies are pretty normal attire much better.
This second picture is SPOILERY for Rome Burning so I will put it under the cut:
Click to view larger:
See? A princess in a pretty dress.
Of all the pictures I've put together over the years, this was possibly the most necessary - I actually had to stop writing and work on this before I could carry on, because I couldn't work out how the Roman, Japanese and Byzantine elements I wanted were going to fit together until I saw them. And Noriko's wedding dress is crucial to building the atmosphere of a critical scene. She, Marcus and Una are all surrendering themselves to a process they know they can't stop and will change their lives forever, and Noriko's dress needed to express the gorgeousness and menace of Rome, the society she's marrying into, in that moment. Through Noriko's eyes, we see the Romans perhaps at their most alien: chanting strange things, waving green branches. Their wedding rituals overlap with ours in some areas - the wedding veil, for example - but they're not the same. And Noriko, though at least she's got some "Nionian" silk on her back, is having to handle some serious culture shock.
Talking of which, do you know how cool it is, when you're writing a book called Rome Burning with a fire motif throughout, to discover that purifying fire was an important part of the ceremony and that a Roman woman's bridal veil was yellow or orange and called a "flammeum"? Because I'm telling you it's really pretty cool.It's almost as cool as when you go to a Chinese city which seems to possess not a trace of its Song Dynasty past and you give up and think, "Oh, well, never mind, let's pretend there could be a palace reflected in a square lake bisected by a walkway..." and then you turn a corner and your palace reflected in a square lake bisected by a walkway IS THERE. Or go to France and wonder if there could be some industrial greenhouses around here and drive a little further down the road AND THEY'RE THERE.
As you'll know if you've read the books, Noriko's hair is tinted green at the ends. I wanted something for the "Nionian" women that suggested Heian fashions, and loved the idea of hair that trailed along the floor. But I also wanted something very modern too, something that suggested hundreds of years of changing fashions and developing technologies. So, green hair.
I have another, close-up picture of Noriko, but it isn't scanned into a computer yet. Also, she came out looking rather alarmingly like Kristen Kreuk, so we'll see.