Period garment maker shares historical styles and materials with LCGHS

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[August 24, 2015]  LINCOLN - Linda Charron of Lincoln was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society on Monday evening. Charron has created a unique business making dresses from historical periods. While her original intent was to limit her creations from the 1830’s to the 1950’s, she has now ranged as far back as the 1700’s.

Linda Charron began her journey to her current business while a youngster. Her mother taught her the art of being a master seamstress at the young age of seven. She took to the skill quickly and had the best dressed dolls in her home town of Phoenix, Arizona. She even costumed her third grade class play. As a teen, she made dresses for herself and then began to sell them to earn enough money to construct her next dress. Her business really took off when her father built a Civil War canon in his basement. Of course, he had to go to a Civil War reenactment to fire off his newly constructed canon, and Linda went with him. She was taken with the period costumes of the re-enactors and the rest is history.

The dress on the left is representative of the Victorian age, circa 1885. Check out the bustle, an affectation imported from France. The dress on the right is from the romantic era of the 1830’s.

Once Charron created one unique dress from a bygone era, she had to create another. It occurred to her that there might be other women who would want something unique to wear, but did not have the time or talent to create a period dress. Once she began advertising on the internet, the quality of her dresses became known all over the world.

Linda Charron creates a historically accurate dress when she receives a commission. She carefully researches all of the intricate design details from an era and copies them. Buttons are sewn on the dress that are from the era, either reproductions or original. Lace is historically accurate or is original, as are jewels and other bling that ornament a dress.

Charron scours the internet for sources. The fabric from which the dress is made is also accurate to the era. Hoops and bustles are in evidence for her 19th century finery. She also creates period undergarments that are necessary to fully display the dress. “I learn something new every day about clothing from past times. I want to make sure that each dress is historically accurate,” she said.

When she receives a commission, she carefully questions the buyer about what period the dress will represent, and what sort of function it will be worn at. This all has a bearing on the style and colors that will be selected.

She also advises her clients to carefully take their measurements so that the finished dress will fit perfectly. She has been doing this long enough to be able to tell when the measurements she receives are accurate, if they are properly proportioned. Each dress can take up to six weeks to create.

Because of the careful attention to detail, they can range from the high three figures to over four figures. “When a woman purchases a dress from me, she is getting a one-of-a-kind product,” Charron said.

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Charron’s dresses have won awards at many competitions for period ball gowns. Her website has been reviewed all over the globe. “My goal is to suck the oxygen out of a room when a woman walks in wearing one of my dresses. I want my client and her dress to be the center of attention,” she said. She always asks her clients to send photos of them wearing her dress. Women have worn her dresses to cocktail parties, weddings, period reenactments. Charron counsels each client about how to wear the dress for the function where it will appear.

Who buys a Linda Charron original? An actress from Finland, a photographer from Monaco, a cancer researcher from New York City, a concert pianist from California, a dairy farmer in Germany, a tour guide in Alaska, all have a Linda Charron dress in their closet. “I have friends all over the world now who have purchased my dresses, but I have only met one of them. I keep in touch with clients over the internet. People find out about me from my website,” she said.

One of her originals designed for Anne Mosely at the Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College graces the cover of a steamy romance novel about the Wild West. Another is featured in a television commercial. They have been sent from her studio in Lincoln all over the world.

The Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society meets monthly on the third Monday at 6:30 p.m. at their research facility at 114 North Chicago Street in Lincoln. There is always an interesting presentation from guest speakers. Everyone is welcome to attend.

[Curt Fox]

Frocks of Ages:
Linda Charron: 

LCGHS: 217-732-3200


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