Saturday, 29 June 2013

Progress on the Tudor Costume

A few images of work I've been doing on the Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Forge Museum this week:

Cutting the kirtle panels - red silk dupion for the bodice, and gold jacquard for the skirt forepart.

Kirtle bodice mounting panels, with bone channels
Front panel of the kirtle skirt

The roll, finished - used to give the skirt volume at the waist
To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Harry Potter Graphic Art @ The Coningsby Gallery

Today my day was packed full of exhibitions and visits - I started the day with a trip to Kew Gardens with a friend, then after a quick look round Kew Palace I headed to Goodge Street for the Harry Potter Graphic Art exhibition at the Coningsby Gallery. A whizz round there and I was off again, this time to the LCF BA Performance show at Factory 7, 13 Hearn Street in Shoreditch, before heading just up the road to Angel, Islington and the Business Design Centre for New Designers: Part 1!
I was literally obsessed with the Harry Potter series growing up, and to be honest, I still am! Any chance to relive the magic of the books and films, I'm there! The Coningsby Gallery has, for the past two weeks, played host to an exhibition of graphic art by design duo MinaLima who worked in the Art Department on the Harry Potter films, now producing limited edition prints of their iconic designs from their studio The Printorium.
I've booked my ticket to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for late July, so this was the perfect warm-up before I dive into Harry Potter film set galore! This exhibition is open until tomorrow, 28th June 2013, so if you are in the area be sure to pop in and have a look around.
These images from the Coningsby Gallery website

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

'Pride and Prejudice' @ Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park

Despite the fact that I was out and about all day yesterday, and I was actually working for most of the day (well...if you call tutu-making work!), it felt like the official first day of the summer holidays! Maybe it was because of the lovely sunshine and strawberry ice-lollies, or perhaps it was the picnic in Regent’s Park? One thing’s for sure: ending the evening with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at the Open Air Theatre definitely had a part to play in making it the most summery day of the year so far!

If you’re looking for the perfect blend of going to theatre but still feeling like you’re relaxing in your garden at home with friends and a barbeque, the Theatre at Regent’s Park is the place to go. Set just within one of the largest parks in London (also home to London Zoo), follow the beautifully arranged flower beds to the fairy-light-lit theatre.
I went with a friend to see the opening night of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (directed by Deborah Bruce), celebrating the 200th anniversary of the novel by Jane Austen. What a great setting for a stage adaptation of one of the most well-known love stories in English literature! The Regency period, with its Empire-line muslin gowns and romantic countryside settings was perfectly partnered with the twittering of birds in the surrounding trees, and the slow sunset just beyond. Once the sky was dark, the spotlights caught the fluttering moths and insects above the stage in warm light to create such a beautiful, natural, ethereal atmosphere no indoor theatre can create.
The play starts with a burst of energy – piano-playing, a flurry of giggling girls and laughing officers bounding onto the scene through the audience. The chorus take their places on chairs and tables up stage, just visible behind the elegant yet simple set piece, and the action onstage is completely surrounded. With the set merging into the seating area, the theatre becomes an intimate and private space; the audience is drawn into the narrative from the start.

The storyline stays true to the original, while still ensuring that with excellent delivery of all roles, I never felt like I knew exactly what was coming next. The adaptation into a play by Simon Reade is fast-paced, so there were no breaks for changes between scenes. I really liked the idea of the rotating set piece (designed by Max Jones): a very imaginative way of distinguishing the transition from scene to scene, or each different location in the story.
Of course, I couldn’t help but pay a little more attention to the costumes, designed by Tom Piper. In my view, they were excellent concepts, and beautifully made too. On his website, Piper wrote that he faced “the danger that all the girls could blend into a mass of white muslin” – but this is certainly not the case. Each costume conveys character expertly, whether that is through shape, as in the 18th Century-style gown for Lady Catherine de Bourgh, or through rustic printed cottons used in Miss Charlotte Lucas’ dress. Each costume is simplified to allow layers to be added while onstage: a plain day dress is transformed into a much more elegant dance affair with the addition of a lace overdress and feathered bonnet. My favourite would have to be Miss Lydia Bennett’s luscious velvet spencer over her light pink day dress, creating a very strong image of excess, frivolity, and most importantly, a little girl desperate to be grown-up. Not only did the use of specific fabrics bring to life personality, so did the fit of the costumes – successfully making them an uncomplicated yet expressive narrative tool.
I highly recommend this production, not only as a piece of theatre but as a great evening out this summer. But if you can, make sure you go on a sunny day – barbeques, picnics on the grass, and sitting outdoors are not so much fun in the rain! I will definitely be visiting the Open Air Theatre again soon; they have a fantastic selection of shows on throughout the next few months!
'Pride and Prejudice' is on at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London until 20th July 2013. For more information go to www.openairtheatre.com .

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Tudor Costume: Corset

After an intense term at LCF, I am finally getting round to finishing the Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Museum, inspired by their wonderful 16th Century wall paintings (more info here).

Here are some photos of work I finished back in March but never got round to photographing!

In my last post, I shared some photos of the chemise. Next up is the corset, or as it was called in Tudor times: bodies. Around 1576, the date of the wall paintings at the Museum, the fashion was for an angular silhouette. The triangular skirt shape created by a farthingale (which will be in my next post!) is complimented by a reverse triangle, or cone-shaped, bodice.

The desired shape is flat-fronted, flattening the chest. The corset front is pointed and elongated to create the illusion of a longer torso, but also to keep the front as flat as possible all the way down. The waist is sucked in slightly, but not to the extreme that the Victorians are known for. The tabs on the waist help to make the corset more comfortable - the waist line doesn't dig in with these, and they also provide the foundation for volume in the skirt, which is often almost horizontal as it comes out of the waist. This corset laces at the back - I used a velvet ribbon. However, I need to make a few changes, for example covering the (very modern!) metal eyelets, adding one more pair at the bottom and finding a more period-accurate lacing technique.

NOTE: I used the 'Dorothea Bodies' pattern from the wonderful book The Tudor Tailor, with just a few minor adjustments. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in making a Tudor costume!

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Tudor Costume: Chemise

After an intense term at LCF, I am finally getting round to finishing the Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Museum, inspired by their wonderful 16th Century wall paintings (more info here).

Here are some photos of work I finished back in March but never got round to photographing!

Firstly, the chemise, the first layer of clothing. This is made of linen. In Tudor times it was believed that this fabric absorbed all the dirt on you body, so you wouldn't need to wash yourself, only your chemise (baths were not common and when they were used, they would be for medical reasons - the water infused with herbs etc.).

I designed the chemise and pattern myself, using my research from the V&A museum.
(Just a quick note...In Tudor times the chemise would have probably had long sleeves, however for this costume I've decided not to put sleeves on the chemise, as I am going to make some pretty elaborate attachable blackwork ones instead. If later on I change my mind, I can easily add some to this chemise, but that's a decision I'll make once I've finished everything else.)

To learn more about the incredible wall paintings that are inspiring this Tudor costume, you can visit the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire: www.hadhammuseum.org.uk

Friday, 21 June 2013

LCF Time Machine

I came across these photos and had to share! So funny to see students on the same school and course as me, doing very similar work, but almost a hundred years ago! (Also amazed that 1920 is actually almost a hundred years ago...that's just weird!)

Children dressed in costumes for the Mayor of London´s Fancy Dress Ball - 1928

Child in peasant costume c.1930 / Herald costume c.1930

"Dress through the ages" class: Hazel Bridges drawing - 1953 / The Comedy of Errors: costume being created - 1933
 18th Century Costume - 1938
The Comedy of Errors - 1933

The Comedy of Errors - 1933

Student in a Gainsborough-like historical style - c.1920 

Model in historic Georgian costume - 1928

Peasant Dance c.1937

"Historical hairstyle, Princess de Lambelle (Louis XVI)" - 1956

Fantastic hairstyles: historic costumes - c.1930

London College of Fashion was established in 1967, through the merging of the Shoreditch Institute Girls Trade School (founded 1906) and the Trade School for Girls, Barrett Street (founded 1915). These two colleges provided much needed professional training in both 'needle trades' and academic subjects for girls emerging into a society where it was now accepted for women to have a career.

Here's an interesting description from the VADS website:
 Trade overalls notes in the archive indicate that, from the 1915 inception of the Trade School for Girls at Barrett Street, pupils wore trade overalls that reflected their area of study. From the photographic archive, the following convention seems to have been followed up until the mid-1930s, with some possible exceptions for hairdressing students during the early years of the school:
· Dressmaking students - wore white overalls with red and green embroidery.
· Embroidery junior students - wore white overalls with collars embroidered in orange and gold
· Embroidery senior students - wore white overalls with embroidered monograms
· Tailoring students - wore blue overalls (these appear dark in the black and white archive images)
· Hairdressing junior students - wore short sleeved overalls with black and white embroidered collars
· Hairdressing senior students - wore plain white overalls
During this period, overalls may also have been characterised by the cut of the neckline: round necks for embroidery students, square necks for dressmaking students. This differentiation is at times seemingly inconsistent in the photographic archive, although it has been reported by at least one historian who has studied the history of the London trade schools. Around the early to mid 1930s, trade overalls for students were changed to wrap around garments. No uniforms were required for mature evening students of any period.

Courses included fashion design, clothing technology, dressmaking, millinery, upholstery, wig-making and costume, amongst many other subjects. Clearly, LCF has been an innovative and leading educational facility since its origins at the turn of the century!

These images are a part of the London College of Fashion Archives - for more information go to the Visual Arts Data Service website.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Final Costume for Irma in "The Madwoman of Chaillot"

Our final presentation of the Consolidation and Collaboration project was this morning, and it went really well! This is the first time I have made a full costume, with hair and make-up, and it is so satisfying to see a complete and finished project. I cannot believe how quickly time has passed and that I have already finished my first year at LCF... I've learnt and developed so much over the last few months and it is safe to say my enthusiasm for costume has only gotten stronger!

So, here are the final photos of my Irma costume, and some group shots:


Irma: Costume by Megan Doyle, Hair and Make-Up by Robyn O'Reilly
Countess Aurelia: Costume by Tetiana Semenova, Hair and Make-Up by Caroline Shallow
Street Singer: Costume by Aurora Barrett

Monday, 17 June 2013

Costume Designs for "The Madwoman of Chaillot"

Research images - Ladurée Patisseries
This term at LCF we were given the text of "The Madwoman of Chaillot" by Jean Giraudoux, to design and makes costumes for.

The play is set in a Parisian café in the 1950s and features an eclectic cast of characters ranging from the Prospector, convinced he has found oil under Paris, to the Countess who dresses head-to-toe in "the grand fashions of 1885".

Some of the characters, such as the Baron, have been coming to the café "for thirty years", so I chose as my concept the idea that the characters have become part of the scenery of this absurd café, and the café, in particular it's food and drink, has become an integral part of them. The café is described by the President as "not a café, it's a circus!" so I also used inspiration from vintage circus photographs to create a playful, frivolous and colourful look.

Here are my final designs:


I made the costume I designed for Irma the waitress - I'll post some photos after my presentation tomorrow! In the meantime, here are some "in progress" photos!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Making Irma

A few weeks ago I shared the beginnings of this term's work. Here is my costume for the character of Irma, from 'The Madwoman of Chaillot', starting to resemble my original design! Hooray!

Our group concept is to use inspiration from French patisseries in our costume and make up designs. Primarily I have drawn from patisserie textures, for example the whipped cream topping is conveyed through white embroidery and the soft raspberries are recreated in handmade bubbly shibori silk. Together with a sweet, sugary and fruity colour scheme, this creates a sensory and tactile costume that is utterly delicious!