I love historical fiction! This fictionalized account of the romance between Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne, in Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky was a great read. Drenched with detail and incredibly atmospheric, it begged to be styled into an outfit.
This outfit is inspired by the night Fanny and Louis meet. She’s away in the French countryside after losing one of her children to consumption where she meets Louis’ cousin and their friends. Louis is late to the party, coming back from a travel writing excursion and bursts in, in a bombastic fashion!
This is what I imagine Fanny was wearing at the party. She’s in a room surrounded by men and is mysterious enough that Louis feels drawn to her. I wanted her outfit to feel dark and sultry so I started with the “Style Your Thunder” Dress from ModCloth. I love the simple elegance and glamour of this dress. It seemed like it’s just the right style for a late Victorian, early Edwardian society lady to wear.
I paired the dress with some Manolo Blahnik ‘Graco’ Lace-Up Booties and then I had some fun with accessories. I imagined that Fanny had a locket so I found a 19th Century French Gold Locket And Chain and a pair of Stella & Dot Chantilly Lace Chandelier Earrings.
Fanny was married at the time of her and Louis’ first meeting so I thought that a vintage Victorian engagement ring would be the perfect edition to the look.
For the makeup, I wanted to do something inspired by the period. Bésame Cosmetics creates makeups and perfumes based on historical shades. For this look I chose the 1946 Red Velvet lipstick. It post-dates the book by almost half a decade but their lipsticks date from 1920 to 1970 with different red variation so you can choose the right shade for your skin tone.
To compete Fanny’s beauty routine, I added a MAC Kohl Power Eye Pencil and a MAC Cosmetics Eyeshadow Palette in “Navy Times Nine.” As a final touch I added some red nail varnish in the form of OPI’s “Malaga Wine.“
The Book That Inspired the Look
The passionate and turbulent story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his tempestuous American wife, Fanny.
At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne leaves her philandering husband in San Francisco and sets sail for Belgium to study art, with her three children and a nanny in tow. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her brood repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. There she meets Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who is instantly smitten with the earthy, independent and opinionated belle Americaine.
A woman ahead of her time, Fanny does not immediately take to the young lawyer who longs to devote his life to literature, and who would eventually write such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson’s charms. The two begin a fierce love affair, marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness, which spans decades as they travel the world for the sake of his health. Eventually they settled in Samoa, where Robert Louis Stevenson is buried underneath the epitaph:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
(Requiem, Robert Louis Stevenson)
What do you think of this look inspired by Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan? Leave a note in the comments below!
And let me know if you have a favorite book you want to see featured in BookStyle!