I enter The Ballroom this evening and immediately I scent trouble. Lady B is looking bored. Lady B bored is not a pretty thing. She doesn’t react to tedium like a normal person. She doesn’t settle on the sofa with a good romance novel. Neither does she order champagne and oysters. Does she go shoe shopping? Nothing so sane and normal. I wish she’d pick a fight with Lord B so they could have make-up–
Lady B. I can hear you, Miss Neville!
Miranda: –make-up handshake, Lady B. [Aside] I wonder if Lord B is suffering a twinge of the gout and that’s why she’s down in the dumps.
Lady B: Harrumph. There isn’t the least need for vulgar speculation as to the cause of my mood. It’s quite simple. In a word: March.
Miranda: Not my favorite time of year, either, though it was quite nice in Florida last week.
Lady B: Where? Never mind. The point is the weather is foul, the Season hasn’t started, that nice Leam and wicked Bourne have been swept off to be married and the two Minervas won’t arrive until the end of the month.
Miranda: Also Colin and Blake.
Lady B: You’re not helping. Amuse me.
Minerva: It’s only a week or two before the new authoresses arrive.
Lady B: Miss Neville! Do you have no idea how to keep a secret?
Minerva: Oops. Sorry. I have something planned for tonight. Do you remember Regency Project Runway?
Lady B: The fashion parlor game! I enjoyed that.
Miranda: This time we have set a particular challenge. Ladies: you may come in now.
Twelve young ladies enter the room. Each one is dressed to kill. Or something.
Lady B: Good gracious.
Miranda: Welcome models. Having no notion how to make the best of your looks, you languish among the wallflowers until one night Lord Dick Manly, the most devastating man in London, invites you to waltz. You have long admired his flashing dark eyes, hair a little too long for fashion, perfect tailoring worn with an insouciance that fails to disguise his broad shoulders and narrow hips. He whirls you around the room, holding you just a little bit too close so you can tell he is interested.
Lady B: How?
Miranda: By his delicious smile. What else? Later you follow him onto the terrace, hoping to experience your first kiss with a master of the art. Alas, you discover him locked in the embrace of the Duchess of Lethbridge who is displaying bits of flesh that have no business showing in a ball gown.
Lady B: How fascinating. I know the Duchess, of course. She causes a scandal everywhere she goes. I always invite her to my balls.
Miranda: Her behavior at the Vanderlin House ball is responsible for a certain ARRANGED MARRIAGE you will hear about soon.
Lady B: What happens next?
Miranda: Determined to show Lord Dick Manly what he is missing, you undertake an extreme makeover. The challenge for our models tonight was to create an ensemble that will bring a notorious rake to his knees. Twelve young ladies, with the assistance only of their abigails, have been given twenty-four hours to come up with a look. We provided a mentor, Mrs. Timothea Gunne, who offered pointers in how to achieve the “wow factor” that will guarantee them a lifetime of kisses. And more.
So, commenters. All twelve ensembles are available on a single page here. Tell us what you think. Does the look meet the challenge? Is it spoiled by poor styling? We are looking for a top three and a bottom three and as much snark as you can bring to the party. Don’t hold back! On Wednesday we will present the finalists. And Lady B (aka Lady Nina Klum-Kors) will send someone home and announce the engagement of the winner.
[Huge thanks to Candice Hern for once again combing her collection of original Regency prints for fabulous outfits. To learn more about Candice and her terrific books please visit her website]