I tried to read a few chapters of "A History of Fashion and Costume" book a couple of days ago. Fashion is actually not my particular interest but I believe that we can't completely understand human history without learning about fashion. So I chose to read a chapter about French female fashion, especially during the reign of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI.

I remembered that there was a replica of Chateau de Versailles in Second Life. I was sure I could enrich my learning about French fashion by going there. I have strong reasons for it. Louis XIV was the person behind the expansion of Chateau de Versailles after it was built as a simple hunting lodge by Louis XIII in 1624. Louis XIV - XVI had lived in Chateau de Versailles. So I thought that the fashion should not revolve far from the chateau.

I was right. As soon as I teleported to Chateau de Versailles, I found a small marketplace outside the chateau. There were carts of mostly female period outfits for sale. I saw the replicas of Madame de Pomadour's and Marie Antoinette's gowns. They were among the most expensive items there. I spent hours just to read notecard from each cloth. I learned a lot about Baroque and Rococo style from the notecard. I was lucky to meet one of the cloth designers who happened to be a certified Versailles designer in SL (lol) and a historic fashion designer in RL. She told me about the differences between Baroque style outfits which were dominant during the reign of Louis XIV and Rococo style outfits which flourished during the reign of Louis XV and the beginning of that of Louis XVI.

I bought four outfits before I entered the chateau, (1 Baroque, 2 Rococos and 1 transitional outfit between Barouge and Rococo style). Usually I am very frugal but I wanted to be immersed in what I was learning at the time. My most expensive outfit was a blue flowery Rococo style mantua. The bell shaped skirt, florid fabric, playful color and fanciful style were distinctive characteristics of Rococo.

Chateau de Versailles was a grand palace, even in Second Life. (I will write more about it in seperate post) All rooms were decorated with paintings depecting people, from which I could learn a lot about what people wore at the time. It was easy to get lost and disoriented in the palace though. But it was a great experience. As it was a role playing sim, I met many people dressing up. I saw two comtessee (countessess) arguing in the queen's chamber when I got out from the secret door through which Marie Antoinette escaped the night of 5/6 October 1789 when the Paris mob stormed Versailles. I met a Catholic priest who asked me to join a mass. I also met a royal servant who insisted to serve and follow me wherever I go. (Later he asked me for a job or else he would work for a Portuguese count.... OMG!) 

It was a really fun learning. Although I was not fond of the powdered wig, a total of 800 L$ was worth spending. That much money could only buy me a cup of Starbuck here, NOT a ticket to France or a royal experience, like dressing up in Chateau de Versailles. Being immersed in the 16th-17th centuries enviroment gave me a glimpse of what women, especially the noble ones, went through just to get dressed. That makes me grateful that right now I can write this post just in shorts and T-shirt.

Don't hate me for saying this but learning about art in virtual world is better and more immersive that learning it from Google Art Project (www.googleartproject.com) . Here's my experience. In my attempt to learn more about museums and art galleries in Germany, I browsed Google Art Project and entered Gemäldegalerie (simply means picture gallery) in Berlin. I was wondering if there were other German picture galleries that I could access through the web. So I searched them on Google.

My search brought me to the website of Old Masters Picture Gallery Dresden (Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden) http://www.dresdengallery.com/ 
What a surprise, the gallery has built a replica in Second Life. I teleported to the gallery in SL instantly and landed near the pond in the middle of the building complex which, I learned later, was a Zwinger palace, the palace of Augustus the strong, elector of Saxony in 1700s.

It was love at the first sight. I think it would be hard for anyone not to fall in love with the Baroque style and neoclassical buildings there. The Old Masters Picture Gallery was located in a building called Semper Wing, the fourth wing added to the three-winged Zwinger palace. It took me a while to find the Semper Wing. (Hey..it was really a huge complex) As soon as I stepped into Semper Wing, I was stunned by the beauty of Neo-Renaisance interior. It might sound strange to you that one could shiver physically just being in something virtual but I did.

I didn't know where to start. I read that the gallery had 750 masterpieces from European art history and some of them were among the most famous and supreme paintings like Raphael´s "Sistine Madonna" or Giorgione´s "Sleeping Venus".  I decided to go for the most talked about first. As I explored the green rooms and pink rooms in search of those paintings, I stumbled across hundreds of other masterpieces including my favourite painting by Johannes Vameer "Girl Reading a Letter" . I clicked the paintings to get notecards of information. Some paintings had audio guide I could listen to.

The paintings themselves were supreme. Combined with the ability to explore them in 3 dimentional virtual gallery WITH other people made them almost divine. This was something that I couldn't do in Google Art Project.

I still have lots to learn there. My next learning target is "Das Schokoladen Mädchen" or "The Chocolate Girl" by Liotard. There was a chocolate girl costume sold in the gift shop near the gallery entrance. It would be great to dress up as we learn, wouldn't it?  (Ugh.....but the costume costs L$450) . I hope to join other activities in virtual Dresden Gallery in the near future. Would you come with me?

Dresden Gallery in Second Life: