Sunday, 9 December 2012

Les Misérables - Featurettes

With the release of Les Misérables only weeks away, impatience is growing! Luckily for us, the Les Mis team have released featurettes on their YouTube page to give us an insight into the crafting of the film. Here are the Costume and Hair & Make-Up videos, the see more about Production Design and the writing of a new song, 'Suddenly' head over to the LesMiserablesFilm page.

Les Misérables is release in the US on Christmas Day, and on January 11th in the UK. (Unfair I know!)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Victorian Boned Bodice

It has been a very busy two weeks, with two hand-ins I haven't had a moment to spare! Just in time, I got my Victorian boned bodice finished - here it is!

I pretty pleased with how it turned out - especially my matching stripes!!! And the fact that it fits me perfectly makes me so happy!

This month I'll be making a Tudor costumes, based on a character from the Forge Museum Wall Paintings in Much Hadham - read my post about the project here.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cinderella, designed by John Macfarlane

Well I think I've just found my favourite designer!

John MacFarlane's designs for Cinderella by the Birmingham Royal Ballet are just incredible -  and his costume illustrations are just as inspiring.

The production, staged in 2010 and aired on the BBC was directed by David Bintley and Ross MacGibbon and created to celebrate the Birmingham Royal Ballet's 20th Anniversary. It is currently being staged again this month at the Birmingham Hippodrome, until the 9th December.

Take a look at the trailer:

John MacFarlane studied at Glasgow School of Art, and is a leading opera and ballet designer, known for his work on the BRB's The Nutcracker, amongst other productions. He works as a painter alongside designing, a technique which he employs often in his costume illustrations:

The Wicked Stepmother, Costume 1

Ugly Stepsister

Ugly Stepsister


Frog Courtier

I really like John Macfarlane's use of colour, and how he includes pencil sketches of costume details around his character drawing. These really give a sense of the whole character, in 3D, rather than just a face-on drawing of the front of a costume. 

Macfarlane also sketches every detail of his sets and props, to ensure a continuous design aesthetic throughout the production.

Here's a video from the 'Everything Birmingham' Youtube channel about the set painting/construction process:

To book tickets to see Cinderella at the Birmingham Hippodrome on the BRB website: here

Photos of the show are from the BRB website. The sketches are from Creating Cinderella, the BRB's backstage blog for the production.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Les Misérables Vogue Photoshoot

I'm almost to the end of the first Les Misérables book - I'm reading it in french so it's taking a little longer than it normally would for me to read a book! I'm just so so so excited for the film, and this Vogue shoot by Annie Leibovitz is making me even more impatient!

Take a look at the incredible photos:

Photos by Annie Leibovitz for the December 2012 issue of American Vogue. For more information go to www.vogue.com

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Showtime Stitches designs for the N21 Festival

A few weeks ago, I was asked by the N21 Festival team to design canvas bag for their St Nicholas Fair this December! I hope you like the design as much as I do - I had so much fun putting it together and I just can't wait to see the finished printed bags!!!


(St Nicholas Fair logo designed by Denise Ryan: http://www.denise-ryan.com/)
So keep the 8th of December free everyone, and come down to the St Nicholas Fair on Winchmore Hill Green, N21from 2-7PM. See you there! For more information go to www.n21.net .
If you are interested in having an illustration designed for your organisation, contact me, Megan, at showtimestitches @ gmail.com . I would love to work with you and create more fantastically fun and exciting prints!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

An Update and Hollywood Costume @ V&A Museum

It's been a busy busy week, and it's not over yet! With schoolwork (I really should call it university now, but I just can't get that into my head!), two very exciting projects I'm involved in, and preparations for the show I'm working on next week with Green Room Productions, I haven't had a moment to spare! At university (!) we're making Victorian bodices, which is a lot of fun (and a whole lot of learning). I'll post some photos of my finished bodice soon. You can read about one of the projects I'm working on at the moment with the Much Hadham Forge Museum here - I'll reveal the other project next week! Although here's a clue in the meantime....  Go to Green Room Productions website to learn more about the show I'm helping with next week - The Scarlet Pimpernel!

Despite the packed schedule this week, I got to see the Hollywood Costume exhibition at the V&A - and it was AMAZING!!! We went as a class, and needless to say it was incredibly inspiring to us costume crazy people!

My favourite display was the Royal collection. Suptuous gowns, in rich colours, velvets, with extensive beading and embroidery...what could be better!?!?!?

I found this quote in Room 1 very interesting - it highlights the importance of good costume design and what it brings to a production:

"Inhabiting a character is the actor’s profession, and they transform themselves into hundreds of roles over the course of their careers. Actors often discover their characters in the fitting room. This is not so much a change of clothes as a change of skin.

Costumes are so much more than clothes – they are the means to channel new people. The actor’s gait, posture, gestures and their entire physicality are informed by what they wear. "

'Hollywood Costume' was truly a celebration of costume design in film - I was worried that they would 'fashionize' the costumes to relate to more visitors, but that wasn't the case at all. The costumes, the characters and the designers were given the unspoilt attention they deserved - although sadly, none of the makers were credited...

Hollywood Costume is on at the V&A in London until 27th January 2013 - read more about it here.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Queen Louise of Prussia

I came across these stunning Regency-era Spencer jackets owned by Queen Louise of Prussia while browsing Pinterest...take a look:

Saturday, 20 October 2012

A Very Exciting Project...

I'm so pleased to announce a very, very, very exciting project that I'm undertaking with The Forge Museum in Much Hadham!!!

I have been asked to recreate Tudor costumes, working from an incredible set of wall paintings dating from the 1570s. These amazing images were discovered under layers and layers of paint and wallpaper in the medieval part of the Forge Museum building that made up a 15th Century hall house.

I am impatient to get started on making the costumes! Here is the couple that I will be focussing on:

I will post updates on this project along the way, so keep checking back!

To see these wonderful paintings for yourself, visit The Much Hadham Forge Museum - please see their website or Facebook page for more information.

Image credit: by David Calvert, copyright Much Hadham Forge Museum.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - Set Design

Apologies for the super long title, but there's no way to abbreviate it really....

Anyway, as the title suggests, this post is about the set design of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2'. I came across a very interesting article on ArchitecturalDigest.com by Elizabeth Stamp, here are a few highlights:

In the article on the Architectural Digest, production designer Stuart Craig talks us through the ideas behind his designs. Above is the entrance hall of Gringott's Bank, the setting for a very dramatic escape scene in the last instalment of the Harry Potter series. Craig says of this design:

"Banks are traditionally symbols of stability, I know that recent history undid all this, but that is the intention in bank architecture—to convey this feeling of reassurance, of stability, of solidity. So our banking hall, like any other, is made of marble and big marble columns. And it has great strength.”
Below is the concept drawing of the Bank set - note the serious, sombre colour scheme that is carried through from set to lighting to costume. The stony colours of coal, granite and onyx reflect the ideas of strength and power mentioned in the quote above. Furthermore, this dark colour scheme could reflect the overall mood of the film, and the characters within it - as Rufus Scrimgeour says in the ominous opening of 'Deathly Hallows: Part 1', "these are dark times, there is no denying"!

I love this concept illustration of the Room of Requirement! The incredibly dramatic fan vaulting turns a typical Gothic interior into a magical room overwhelmed by mountains and mountains of discarded objects. Craig created the effect of multiplying objects filling the room by liaising with Special Effects supervisor John Richardson, who designed rising flooring panels that pushed the piles of objects up and out.
Over the 8 Harry Potter films - produced from 2001 to 2011 - many aspects of the design have evolved, from casting to costumes. Here is the set of the Hogwarts Entrance Hall, redesigned to meet the needs of the script. JK Rowling had written that during the final battle at Hogwarts, the stone statues come alive and jump out of the wall. These statues were not present before, so had to be added into a redeveloped set design.
This space, host to a showdown between Harry and Voldemort, has an interesting mood to it - Craig describes the "interior/exterior" space as "theatrical". The colour, lighting and architectural details are, of course, dramatic and striking, but also I find the 'backstage' quality of the set, with its chain and pulleys around, reminds me of a literal stage/theatre building.
Read the complete article about the sets of  'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' at the Architectural Digest - link here.
Photo credit: Jaap Buitendijk, Warner Bros. Pictures

Friday, 12 October 2012

Hollywood Costume at the V&A

I can't believe I haven't already posted about this! The biggest costume event of the year is about to open at the V&A Museum....


This incredible celebration of the most iconic costume designs in film will open to the public next week, on Saturday 20th October (19th October is the Member's Preview Day). Over 100 items will be shown, from films made over the last century - from 1912 to 2012.

The exhibition will be spread over three galleries, each representing a step in the costume design process - first, 'Deconstruction' describes the design process, then 'Dialogue' explores the relationship between the costume designer and creative team. Lastly in room 3, 'Finale', will be some of the most famous costumes in film history.

Gwyneth Paltrow's dress from Shakespeare in Love. Photo by Paul Grover.

Dorothy's pinafore from The Wizard of Oz
Amongst the many items to go on display will be Dorothy's pinafore dress from The Wizard of Oz,  Kate Winslet's twill suit from Titantic, Jack Sparrow's outfit from Pirates of the Caribbean and Gwyneth Paltrow's incredibly intricately embroidered dress for Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare in Love.
Cate Blanchette in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Photos courtesy of V&A, Lucasfilm/Paramount/The Kobal Collection, Walt Disney Pictures/The Kobal Collection
I'll be visiting the V&A next weekend for sure, and I'll post about my favourite costumes from the exhibition. Let me know what you think of it when you visit too!
'Hollywood Costume' opens at the V&A, South Kensington, on October 20th - for more information, go to the V&A website.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The National Art Library at the V&A Museum

I've only been at university for a week and already we have two projects on the go - both needing lots and lots of research! Today I used the National Art Library at the V&A Museum for the first time, and I wanted to share with you all how easy to access and useful it is!

The National Art Gallery is a free, public reference library specialising in decorative and fine art. Anyone can sign up to become a reader (here's a link to tell you how). Search the online catalogue to reserve books three days in advance of your visit, or request prints and special items once you are at the library - these will be collected from the store for you every hour.

The library is a wonderful place to study - it's quiet and spacious, and as each reader is allocated a seat on arrival the desks will never be overcrowded. You are allowed to photocopy and photograph pages, and look at as many books as you like each time you visit - plus, if you read about an item displayed at the museum, you can take just a few steps out of the library to see it yourself!

The V&A has a huge collection of books and periodicals to help with research on any subject. It's incredible that this free educational resource still seems to be such a secret! Visit the V&A website for more information to plan your visit!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Paradise

Here are a few stills from the new BBC costume drama, 'The Paradise'. The story is based on Emile Zola's 1883 novel 'Au Bonheur Des Dames', and is directed by Marc Jobst. Costume design is by Alison Lyons.

Set in the early 1870s, it tells the story of Denise (Joanna Vanderham), a young girl working in a modern and mesmerising department store. It's costumes and textiles galore, with wonderful Victorian clothing, as well as a focus on womenswear and haberdashery sections of the store. Our protagonist works as a Sales Assistant at The Paradise, serving immaculately dressed, incredibly wealthy women. The department store is a thriving and modernising one, run by the fanciable John Moray (Emun Elliot).

Like the legendary 'Downton Abbey', 'The Paradise' gives us a taste of upstairs and downstairs life - but perhaps with a more modern twist. I'd say this production is much more suited to a contemporary audience - the classes interact with each other more, and the characters are altogether more relatable. Personally, I'm liking BBC dramas, as opposed to the ITV equivalents, more and more. Of course, it all started with last Christmas' 'Great Expectations' starring Douglas Booth... Which reminds me, the (beautiful!) title sequences of these two programmes are incredibly similar! It turns out, both were designed by the same title designer, Nic Benns.

'The Paradise' is an 8-part series airing on BBC One - catch the last two episodes on BBC iPlayer, or watch on Tuesdays at 9PM. Also, watch out for the rival ITV department-store-period-drama, 'Mr Selfridge', due to be aired in January 2013.

(Photos from the BBC website)