Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gymslip Pattern

This is just so... COOL! Remember on September 1st, how I was going on about Gymslips, the school dress of the century? This week, I got an e-mail from Margaret, asking me if I was serious about wanting to make one (Note to all of you: I may use a mocking or sarcastic tone sometimes, but I'm ALWAYS serious about wanting to make costume!), because she just so happens to have made one last year for Halloween! Ask my Sweetheart: I was bouncing on my chair and clapping my hands excitedly.

Here is her story: having seen pictures of her mother wearing one back when she was in school, she jumped on the occasion when she found an old Butterick Pattern from the 1950's on eBay.

Butterick 516 (Enveloppe Front)

Butterick 516 (Enveloppe Back)

But when she got the pattern, she was disappointed as it was missing the yoke pieces, and it was a child's size. Luckily, her husband Mike who is an engineer, said upon seeing the pattern that he could fix it. spent a week photographing and measuring the original pattern and then re-drawing it on the computer to her size. Margaret then had to spend a day printing out pages and gluing them together (the pattern Mike designed fits on 8.5" by 11" pages - 45 of them to be exact).

Since she lives in a hot climate, she didn't make it out of the wool serge which is what these jumpers were made of back then (as confirmed by Margaret's mother and mine), but in a brown twill, because that was the color that her mother wore. Dark navy blue or bottle green were apparently more common colours (for instance, my Mom's was navy blue).

Margaret's Gymslip (Halloween 2008)

In the photo, she tells me she was more or less finished: she still needed to press the pleats and sew the buttons on the shoulders. Her husband Mike gave me permission to post the picture, because, as he put it, he thinks Margaret "looks da bomb" in the outfit. She does look very cute. Great job, both of you.

Now here is the extra fun part: Margaret and Mike sent me the pattern and the instructions in PDF format and I have their permission to share it with anyone who wants it. So if you want it, e-mail me and I'll send it to you!

Many thanks to Margaret and Mike, you are both awesome and you have no idea how happy you have made me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shopping Alert - Costumes in Fashion: T-Strap shoes

Yes, more shoes to buy that can be used for costumes! Have you noticed how many t-strap shoes are on the market this year? I was looking for a (cheap) pair like crazy last fall. (I would have found one had I been ready to pay top dollar!) Why? Because last year, Nancy-Raven decided to add a theme to her annual Halloween party: the Roaring 20's. Nothing wrong with that, I love a theme as much as the next costumer, but I'm a perfectionist, and I had to go to the party with the wrong shoes (which no one noticed, really).

Here are two that I have found that could be used for historical (20th century) costuming:

Unforgettable Moments by Lela Rose Diana T-Strap Pump (Payless ShoeSource)

These are from their Bridal collection, so they only come in white, but they're only 24.99$ (USD) so you can always spray paint them to change their colour if you need them, say, black (mind you, I'm sure you can find some black ones if you take the time to look around).

Auffrey (Spring)

These look very much like Character Shoes (Ballroom Dance shoes), which are perfect for a 1920's look, except that these particular shoes have this little frill down the T-Strap. Not very historical, but I still like them. They do have that little romantic Je ne sais quoi, and you can get them in Neutral, Grey or Black.

So if any of you need T-Strap shoes, now is the time to buy. I've only given you a couple of examples, but really there are plenty in stores.

As for Nancy-Raven's Roaring 20's party, it turned out great, and we all looked fabulous.

Flapper Ladies

I wore teal of course (more on that dress in a future post, sometime in October), and Nancy-Raven made herself a red dress. Also note that, although I'm holding a wine glass, I was drinking Sprite as I was 5 1/2 month pregnant. (The two other girls are some of Nancy-Raven's co-workers. The guy in the back seen in the center of the picture is my Sweetheart, while the one wearing a hat is a friend of Nancy-Raven's Honey.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Costumes on the Red Carpet: MTV's VMA '09

New category: Costumes on the Red Carpet. I've decided to clean up the tag list (which doesn't mean I'm anywhere near to actually starting the cleaning of said list, I've only made up my mind about it) to make it easier to navigate. As I mentioned in my introduction, Red Carpet dresses can be considered costumes (and I promise I'll make a big fuss about the Oscars). I've been looking at some of the VMA 2009: Full Fashion Recap, and there are some actual costumes in there. Really! (OK, I know MTV's Video Music Awards were last Sunday, and that by now the subjects is so passé, but heck, I tell you about centuries old fashion all the time, you're not going to get on my case for four days, are you?)

On a Red Carpet, you would expect fabulous dresses and spiffy suits, right?

While it is still true for some, not everyone follows the same dress code.

Ah! Costumers have got to love Lady GaGa! (I sure do.) Who else dresses as crazily as she does today? Who else dares to wear costumes all the time? (And I was too shy to wear a Feather Fascinator in public!) I've never seen anyone mix The Phantom of the Opera, A Clockwork Orange, The Birds and The Nightmare Before Christmas themes in the same outfit!

Yep! That girl has nothing to fear from the Paparazzis, there is no way one could ever recognize her if she just walked down the street in jeans and t-shirt, with minimal make-up.

Next, we have someone who clearly thought he was at a Superhero Convention.

Sorry mate, the LARP has been canceled!

Some are a little less outrageous, wearing styles that are years too soon...

I feel like I'm watching some futuristic 80's movie (did someone say Back to the Future Part II?) Oh, what can I say, the turquoise caught my eye!

Oh look, it's V'ger!

Persis Khambatta as Lt. Ilia / V'ger, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

As previously shown by Jack Black, Guys can play dress-up too:

Perez Hilton on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

I think I use to have a dress with that floral pattern when I was five or six. That was about the same time we did finger painting in school, but our teacher made us wash our hands before we left.

Sarcasm aside, whether we like Perez Hilton or not (I'm not particularly fond of the guy), you've got to give him credit for originality!

Apparently glitter is in fashion this season. (Really? I hadn't noticed!)

Katy Perry on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

Hmmm... Aluminium foil and spikes. Ice Queen, Industrial Biker Chick, or Mercury Superhero? It would look awesome on Dancing with the Stars! (Hey, I have shoes that look like that!)

Oh look, more glitter:

P!nk wearing Balmain on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

That's a cute dress, something you would expect to see Pink wear, especially for an MTV award show. But wait, what's going on?

Shakira wearing Balmain on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

*Gasp* Drama on the Red Carpet - Every girl's nightmare come true: Shakira showed up wearing the same dress! Don't the Fashion advisers consult each other before such events? Didn't anyone at Balmain notice the two orders?

P!nk and Shakira wearing Balmain on the red carpet at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City

Well, at least they were good sports about it and here was no cat fight. I seriously feel bad for both of them. I like them both, and it truly is something every girl dreads!

But back to costumes, don't the last two outfits remind you of something?

Nicole Kidman as Satine, Black Diamond Costume, Moulin Rouge (2001)

It is true that P!nk sang Moulin Rouge's version of Lady Marmelade...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Braveheart)

I'm still going through a Medieval phase right now, what with helping with the preparation of Fall Harvest, my local SCA group's(Barony of L'Île du Dragon Dormant) Autumn event. So let's talk about one of the Medieval well, Medieval-Fantasy really) costumes on my never ending wishlist, Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie.

Now I know what you're thinking: "Who the hell is Nicolette?" and "What does Parti-Coloured mean?"

One thing at a time.

First, Nicolette, played by Jeanne Marine, was Princess Isabelle's (Sophie Marceau) Handmaiden in the now classic 1995 movie, Braveheart.

As for parti-colour, it means half and half, two coloured. For instance, Mel Gibson's iconic war make-up for the movie could be described as Argent and Azure (white and blue) parti-coloured.

Mel Gibson as William Wallace, Braveheart (1995)

So now you must wonder which dress I'm talking about exactly, right?

Jeanne Marine as Nicolette, Braveheart (1995)

It's from the scene when Nicolette tells Princess Isabelle about William Wallace and his love for Munron.

The original dress from the movie was eventually sold by (a great source of movie costume pictures)...

Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Front)

Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Back)

Now, a parti-coloured cotehardie in the medieval period would have been all of either half in one colour, not, as is the case here, the front let half in a colour, the back left half in the other colour, and vice versa for the other side.

To help illustrate what I'm trying to say about parti-coloured ensembles, here is a parti-coloured t-tunic and hood I have made in the past:

Gwenyver in her Gold and Vert Parti-Coloured T-Tunic

Back to Nicolette's Cotehardie; as I said, the original movie costume was sold, and the person who bought it, Katanna (aka Mirax), took some very good pictures of her wearing the costume (not only is she gorgeous, but what a trooper, sharing such beautiful and detailed pictures):

Katanna wearing Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Side)

Katanna wearing Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Back)

Katanna wearing Nicolette's Parti-Coloured Velvet Cotehardie (Close-up)

From all these pictures, here are my conclusions for a future reproduction:

  • I would use Gold and Fuschia Pink Panned Velour (much cheaper that real crushed velvet and it will look similar, except for the fact that velour is made on a jersey knit back instead of a woven one, meaning it is stretchy).
  • The pattern would have to be a military line dress(kind of like a princess line, but the seam goes straight up to the shoulder instead of curving to the armhole), with a large skirt and a train. I would try to find one where the shoulder seam is further in the back (more on the shoulder blade than the actual shoulder), but I might be lazy and not care about that detail.
  • I could use micro-suede for the neck and back yoke and use fabric paint for the design on the neck piece.
  • I would need a very long white (or gold, it's hard to tell from the picture), green and red finger loop braid to trim the neck yoke.
  • I would close the back with black micro-suede lace.
  • For the belt, I would use a jacquard trim with a design as close as possible to the one in Katanna's picture, but since we can't see how it is tied, i would have to assume that it is simply knotted in the front with both ends left hanging.

Of course, these are MY observations. I might be wrong about certain details, but as a whole, this is how I would do it.

If you would like more information on this costume (or others from the movie), I encourage you to visit The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes' Braveheart Photobucket album.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Costuming Research Resources: The Costumer's Manifesto

It's time for me to once again share my wisdom (and my links!) with you, so today I present The Costumer's Manifesto. Written by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D., The Costumer's Manifesto goes as such:

The Costumer's Manifesto: (A statement of Purpose and Ethics for Costumers)
"I am a Costumer, I make clothes for imaginary people." ---Celestine Ranney, 1982

I. When I costume, I am not a fashion designer nor a clothing manufacturer, but a builder of character, concept, and physical movement.

II. I, above all, work with Actors: I help them build their character from without, even as they build it from within. I do not complain about the shape of their bodies. I create the shape we need, and/or build a visual representation of the character that suits the existing body. I am aware of their movement needs and I facilitate them.

III. I work under the guidance of Directors: I help them visually represent their conceptual ideas in physical form. I create clothes for the inhabitants of the world they envision.

IV. I am inspired by the words of Playwrights and Scriptwriters: I try to bring alive the script by transforming the words of the text into visual metaphors. Words, especially poetry in the text, need a visual equivalent that supports the mood of the script without distracting from it.

V. I collaborate with the other Designers, seeking to bring our collective vision together so it works in harmony. Costumes do not exist in a vacuum, but on a set, among properties and furniture, sound, and light, as part of a consistent visual representation of an invented world.

VI. Whether I am in the position of stitcher, cutter, dyer, crafts worker or designer, I remember that what I am doing is contributing to the greater whole of the production, and must be done with an aesthetic sense in keeping with the performance, not merely my own whims. Designers, therefore, need to communicate the shows design to all the other costumers involved in the process as clearly as possible, so that when design decisions are made at any level of the process, from buttons to butt padding, they reflect the needs of the show or film as a whole.

VII. I assist the Audience in understanding the story and characters. In performances where spectacle is required, I make the costumes astonish and entertain, but when the audience should be more aware of the other elements of the performance, I will try to make the costumes recede to the background, without personal vanity.

VIII. I study the history of fashion and dress, no matter what my position in a costume studio, so that I can better replicate the styles of clothing of the past when needed. However, I will remember to avoid mindlessly copying old fashion plates, but instead keep in mind the key elements of character and concept, and select or adapt those fashions to suit the individual production.

IX. I am aware that my work consists primarily of adapting and reinventing pre-existing styles to do a functional purpose: cover a body. I know then that what I build is not legally subject to copyright law, and I will not winge and whine if another designer is, in turn, inspired to reuse elements, even a majority of those elements, from one of my designs in their work. I will accept this as flattery if anyone does so.

X. Costuming is a fun profession, and I endeavor at all times to keep it that way by remembering the feelings of all my collaborators. At no time should actors feel their bodies are being criticized in a fitting, nor should a student, worker or volunteer be treated as slave labor, nor should a director or another designer be bullied into an unwanted design decision. A desire for excellence is good, but the desire should never be pursued to any degree that ignores labor law, common courtesy or civilized collaboration.
Tara Maginnis, 8/18/2002

But more than just a declaration of principles and intentions, The Costumer's Manifesto is a great source of information about ALL types of costumes. My favorite sections are the Costume History (sorted by Period) and the "Ethnic" Dress. The Timeline of Costume History Images is also a wonderful source of at glance information.

Of course, the down side to this website is the sheer amount of publicity and links trying to sell you Halloween costumes, but one learns to navigate through them.

So if you have a Costume History class this semester, you are looking for specific costuming information (and you haven't found it in my humble blog) or if you're just generally interested in the subject, be sure to go check it out!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Movie Monday: Dreamgirls

Dreamgirls (2006) is going to be shown on ABC tonight! I've never seen this Oscar winning movie, and it has plenty of costumes from one of my favorite decades, the 60's! I especially like the whole backup singers trio look, with lots of glitter and huge hair!

I was so excited when, while flipping the channels, I saw
Marcus Terrell and the Serenades on America's Got Talent (especially when they all have the big hair and the blue dresses).

(Sorry about the poor quality, it's the only video I could find of the dresses I mentioned, but unfortunately, some people still don't know how to work technology - you don't have to film your TV to record a video!)

Anyway, back to the main topic: Dreamgirls on ABC tonight, starting at 8 p.m. If you haven't seen this movie et and wish to see it (for free! - but you have to suffer the adds, you can't get everything in life), don't miss it!

Edit: I just finished watching it and it was a great movie. So many costumes! And almost always a version for curvacious women. (Thank you Jennifer Hudson!).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blast from the past

My grandfather is currently cleaning his house and he is making some wonderful discoveries in boxes that have remained unopened for 30 years. Look what he sent me the other day:

Gaiters! Original, leather gaiters worn by my mom when she was four. So obviously, I won't be able to wear them (actually, they were sent to me for my daughter), but this costumer gets to look at them up close and see how they are made. (For those of you interested, the brand, printed in gold inside the top of the foot, is Packard.)
I love vintage clothes and accessories!