Royal Elegance

Queen Silvia Caroline Marie Fluke

ELKINS — The gown for Caroline Marie Fluke, Maid Silvia LXXXIV for the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival, has been completed for today’s coronation.

Miss Connie Linger, the costume designer for the Mountain State Forest Festival, described the process of creating the gown.

“After two years void of the experience of creating a coronation gown for Maid Silvia of the forest, it has been an amazing summer of renewed creative frenzy,” Linger said.

“While Maid Silvia Caroline Fluke has waited two years as well to fulfill her duties as queen, I have had the time to ponder and refine my collection of designs for her court.

The coronation will begin at 2 p.m. at the Citizens Bank of WV amphitheatre on the campus of Davis & Elkins College.

Miss Connie Linger, the costume designer for the Mountain State Forest Festival, described the process of creating the gown.

“Caroline’s bordeaux velvet gown is designed to make the most of her petite frame. The gown is a classic princess seamed style which shows off her tiny waist and continues into an A-line hem. Her front neckline is adorned by a golden brocade yoke which continues over her shoulders to become an extended back panel which flows down her back and even below her waist to flare just slightly like a peplum.

“The top of her sleeves are also capped in the gold brocade finishing in a point just above the elbows,” Linger said. “The gold brocade neckline yoke, back drape, and sleeve caps are all embellished by first couching intertwining threads that match her velvet color. Then dancing oak leaves fall into place along the threads from her shoulders and down her back. The same continues on the sleeve heads.

At her sweetheart neckline, a tiny arrangement of embroidered bordeaux velvet oak leaves are the perfect Forest Queen signature, especially as they are punctuated by the most amazing one-inch bronze Swarovski crystal! The entire lower edge of the neck yoke is encrusted by a repeat of clear, aurora borealis, and golden crystals which follow the edge of the sleeve caps as well and trail just onto the back drape.

“The gold brocade is also complimented by the addition of pale golden lurex ribbon twisted into daisy mums,” she said. “Each one is made by hand and applied with five petal shaped golden crystals. The sweetheart neckline is also edged with bronze bugle beads and features the most subdued version of a neck ruff in a burgundy chiffon. Rather than forcing it to stand up, I allowed it to fall at Caroline’s back neck and created a ‘dripping’ of crystals and beads to fall off at the back.

“The tapered velvet sleeves are finished off at the wrist by a curved gold brocade cuff and embellished by an embroidered oak leaf and acorn arrangement accented with bronze and crystal ‘berry’ accents.

“Caroline’s hemline is decorated by gold brocade tufts all around. Each one is anchored by arrangements of oak leaves and acorns. All are accented by bronze, golden and aurora borealis crystals.

“Trailing from the brocade tufts and up into the skirt are pale gold lurex ribbons made to intersect like pathways through the mountains. Each intersection is anchored by a large flower crystal with more crystals reaching up illuminating the way,” Linger said.

“Caroline’s train is attached at her waist up under the back drape. A very large gold brocade tuft echoes the ones on the hemline of the gown but is anchored by two large sage green stylized oak leaves and one maple leaf, along with more of the embroidered oak leaf and acorns. Two simple leaves in gold foiled brown are embroidered with SILVIA LXXXIV to indicate the 84th Mountain State Forest Festival.

“Just above the large oak leaves, in among the matching trail of lurex ribbon, I created an emblem featuring a 3-point Celtic knot with three shamrocks around it and a thistle bud at the base with gold threads creating the thistle’s emerging fine petals. Caroline’s heritage features both a Celtic and Cherokee background.

“The final touch near the top of the train, is a medallion I created to illustrate Director Robbie Morris’ theme ‘A Mountain Mosaic.’ I designed a mountain sunset scene using all ten colors of the princess velvets. The sun in the image is the ‘Cherokee Sun’ symbol to pay homage to Caroline’s heritage.

All the colors and fabrics were carefully chosen to fit our autumn scene and the special gold brocade I discovered was fortuitous as it went so well with all the colors. It shines with pale versions of many of our court velvets,” Linger added.

“It has been both a thrill and an honor for me to finally produce this collection. You will see how the colors and designs all work together to compliment each other.

“As usual, I could never do all the collection without the following seamstresses who put in overtime to bring it all to light! Many thanks to Sheila Scott for 40+ headpieces and detail embroidery assistant, Lola Collier for Woodly and Trainbearers costumes, Dottie Price for Crown and Scepter Bearers costumes, and Brandy Williams for Jester traveling costumes. Special thanks to The Elkins Sewing Center for all their help with supplies and velvet.”