Sunday, 31 December 2006

Elizabethan costume

This is another costume I made while studying Theatrical Costume at SIT (Sydney Institute of Technology) East Sydney in 1994-95. Gosh, so long ago, but I still like it. This one was supervised by Anthony Phillips (designer of Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon productions in Australia among others). We used Jean Hunnisett's "Period Costume for Stage and Screen 1500 - 1800" as a basis and the dress is based on the "Ditchley Portrait"

Technical details
The dress is in 2 pieces. An American furnishing brocade was used for stomacher, undersleeves, lining of the hanging sleeves and forepart of the skirt. The peplum, overskirt, sleeves and bodice were made of a pale green furnishing fabric with a woven motif. The bodice is mounted on coutil while every other part is mounted on cream poplin (struggling student finances again!)
The skirt is separate from the bodice/sleeves and peplum. The whole thing is very heavy due largely to the 120 plastic “jewels” stitched onto the skirt at the junction of the organza tubular “paning”. For these I glued ½ pearl ovals to plastic mounts which I found at an Asian bead palace at Parramatta (which is now regrettably closed) There are 6 metres of large pearl necklaces couched around the bottom of the skirt, peplum and hanging sleeves. I made the “jewelled” belt and decoration on the neckline of the bodice and the matching necklace by stitching beads and pearls onto a pale pink gimp braid. The stomacher is boned edge to edge with plastic artificial whalebone about 1cm wide. The collar is a temporary one (hope to remedy that one day) and is made of shapewell stiffening edged with an embroidered organza lace as are the cuffs. There are 3 shoulder pads in the head of each sleeve to help support the hanging sleeves. The back of the bodice is laced and there are bones on each bodice seam. There is a little wire frame (supportasse) which slots in the back of the bodice to support the collar. I made a drum farthingale to go under the costume, with the plastic boning as the hoops but a plastic hula hoop as the top hoop due to weight of the skirt. There is a bum roll tied at the back to support the farthingale at the correct angle. The costume is accessorised with 2 clown wigs sewn together to get the shape needed, this is topped by a headdress as seen in the portrait. We were lucky to have the theatrical milliner Jean Carroll advise us during this course and we came up with this together. In the portrait Elizabeth is holding a pair of kid gloves and a wooden fan and wears long pearls around her neck. So my costume has these details too. Told you I like to sweat the details!!