Dressing Up For Dracula

Join us at The Roxy Cinema on October 26th for a special screening of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” on 35MM. The screening will be hosted by renowned antique jeweler, Erica Weiner, who will also be leading a discussion of Victorian fashion and jewels following the film!


Erica Weiner is a jewelry historian and dealer focusing on interesting pieces from the Victorian era. Black mourning jewelry, memorial rings, and death symbolism (think urns, weeping willows) continue to interest her as she investigates more about the collective psyche at the end of the 19th century. At that time, England was on the precipice of modernity; industrialism and urbanism was fully influencing culture in every way. Bram Stoker’s novel, published in 1897, addresses some of the dread and excitement people were feeling about these rapid changes. Globalism, female sexuality, technology – all these themes show up in Stoker’s book AND in the jewelry of the period. We’ll be bringing a selection of Victorian jewels that you can ask questions about, try on, and buy. Get a preview at ericaweiner.com – we feature an ever-changing collection of antique jewelry which we source from England and France.
The Gothic revival style arguably reached its height at the end of the 19th century. A Gothic revival REVIVAL, let’s call it, happened in the 1990’s, when Erica was a high school and college student. Blood-red garnets, black lace, sentimental lockets, and creamy pearls were in style yet again, and she became obsessed with Coppola’s take on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This movie shares a name with the novel but re-invents the Victorian horror vampire story through a 1990’s lens. (Keanu!  Winona!) The costume designer, Eiko Ishioka, won an academy award for her work; she chose to ditch Dracula’s famous black cape and instead pulled inspiration from all over the place – Asian family crests, a frilled lizard, Symbolist paintings, human musculature. The dreamlike, ornate costumes became the movie’s creative vision, and took up most of the production budget. Francis Ford Coppola said “the costumes are the sets” – a short doc about this process is worth a watch.
Erica was trained as an art historian at Vassar college, majoring in one of the country’s only Victorian Studies programs (now Global Nineteenth-Century Studies). She is a self-taught jewelry designer and runs her company with her business partner and best friend, Lindsay Salmon.
Side note: Bram Stoker wrote part of Dracula in the seaside town of Whitby, where masses of black Jet (a fossilized type of wood) was mined and produced for mourning jewelry during Queen Victoria’s reign. He set part of his novel here, inspired by the windswept coast and the skeletal ruins of the 13th-century Whitby Abbey.

Recommending reading: Coppola and Eiko on Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Words by Erica Weiner

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