Monday, 15 December 2014

Grimm Tales - Immersive Fairy Tales for Young and Old

A group of us from Year 3 Costume at London College of Fashion went to see the newly opened adaptation of Philip Pullman's dark fairy tales at the Oxo Tower Bargehouse.

Directed and adapted for the performance space by Philip Wilson, this was a really unique and intriguing theatre experience, a completely unique way of storytelling that I had not experienced before. As the audience you aren't just seeing, but really experiencing, these stories. From the moment you enter the building, the sets and characters swallow you into their dark and mysterious world!

Over the course of two and a half hours you will experience 5 of the 6 tales. I missed out on Faithful Johannes, but the wonder of the ones I did see mean I didn't feel short changed! On the contrary, wandering around the sets after the performances have finished, you feel the mystery even more on finding the remnants of a story you haven't seen. You wonder, what happened here while I was upstairs? Where is this red cloak from? And who sleeps in these seven short beds?

I was fascinated by the creativity in the design by Tom Rogers. The 360° sets totally engage you in the performance, from the moment you step foot onto the rubbery forest floor or see the magical lighting in the trees reaching up above your head.

I was really inspired for my own Final Major Project, also a live performance where the audience follows the characters. I've been exploring how I can create a costume that transforms over the course of the story, perhaps through layers. The costumes here gave me plenty of tips to try out myself. There is such an array of costumes and characters in these short tales. Of course there is a bounty of beautiful princess dresses: gowns as shiny as stars, or made of a thousand different types of furs, but equally charming are the costumes of the poorer characters. The use of 'found' objects turned into props was charming and surprisingly believable - this was down to the incredible attention to detail. By using vintage objects as well as modern ones, like a fan adapted into a bird or my favourite, the red thread spools as strawberries, there is an air of childish otherworldliness - which compliments perfectly the subject matter. The fairy-tales we grew up with are twisted into something much more mysterious, dark and unnerving, just as they were intended to be when they were originally told as oral legends.

Grimm Tales is on at the Bargehouse on London's Southbank and booking is available until Feb 15th. This is a wonderful experience for people of all ages, not matter if you are a fan of traditional theatre or not! www.grimm-tales.co.uk

Performance photos by Tom Medwell.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Woodland Waiting Staff - 2 Temple Place

Over the last few weeks, I have been designing and making woodland themed waiting staff costumes for the Quorn Hunt dinner at 2 Temple Place, with catering company Simpkin & Roses.

The theme was woodland, ivy and woodland sprites, so I wanted to transform the waiters into magical, mysterious creatures wearing all the beautiful things you would find in a forest. 2 Temple Place is an amazing Gothic style building in London, so I wanted the designs to work with the medieval theme and dark brown colour scheme there as well.

We also made table decorations to carry the theme through to the setting...

It was great time making things I had never done before and that were totally different to what I'm doing at LCF at the moment. We had a lot of fun with spray paints and glitter, and I think at one point there was enough fake ivy to make an entire forest! The headdresses are really beautiful with the intricate flowers and gold shimmer. I love how the make up colours blend so well with the costume pieces as well. 

Thank you to Stefanie Kemp for organising the make up team: Molly Peters, Ciara Doyle, Amy Cuppage, Ellis Yates, Alice Jessop, Stacie Smith, Grace Fisher. On the costume side, thank you to the wonderful Sanya Torkmorad-Jozavi for her endless help, Emma Corck, Cara Holding, Lara Warden, Eva Roelfs, Winnie Yeung, Stella Herold Kline, Koshy Brahmatmaj. Thank you everyone for giving up their time while we were all going slightly crazy with our uni work!!

(@rosiibear on Instagram)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Soane Museum Gothick Party - Waiting Staff Costumes

I realised I never got round to posting some photos of our final creations for the Sir John Soane's Museum fundraising party that took place last November. I shared my designs in a previous post, as we were slaving away making a thousand paper and foil leaves, so almost a year later (better late than never!!) here are some pictures of the waiting staff on the night.

The process was a competition for a makeup and a costume design. Stephanie Kemp's make up and hair design was chosen, while my leaf design was the winner for costume. The brief was to create something that could be added to the waiting staff uniforms to give them the macabre and gothic edge that characterises the Soane Museum and the amazing themed party that was to take place.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Knitting and Stitching Show

It's been a while since I last posted. A long while. But, I'm not making myself feel guilty - I have plenty of reasons why... I was on holiday (which I deserved after a big year at uni!!) and then I was working, and then I moved house, and then I was working again, and then I started back at uni, as if the last three months off never happened!

Image from @twistedthread on Instagram
As a little gift from the costume maker I have been working for this summer, Anna Maria Genuise, I got a ticket to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally. Anna makes fabulously beautiful tutus and wonderful costumes for opera, ballet and film - I will share some of what I have been doing with her in another post.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is a huge exhibition of textile arts and knitting and sewing supplies; a great place to find inspiration and materials for all kinds of projects. Personally, although I know how to, I don't knit, so I was mainly into the sewing side. There were plenty of beautiful designer fabrics to buy, haberdashery items, ribbons galore and much much more!

When I saw this beautiful fabric print by Heather Ross for Windham Fabrics, entitled Far Far Away, I simply could not resist...

Images from Windham Fabrics
I also bought a bit of Liberty fabric and some cute floral buttons to make myself a pincushion. It's about time I had a nice one! A few different ribbons, and most importantly... I came home with plenty of inspiration :D

The Knitting and Stitching Show is on at Alexandra Palace, London until Sunday. More information here - website

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Tudor Lord's Costume Finished!

Two weeks ago I delivered the finished Lord Kytson costume to the Much Hadham Forge Museum! I am so happy to see the complete costume to compliment Lady Kytson's. This was a great opportunity for me to try my hand at making something new - Tudor male costume - and what was most interesting was sourcing and using fabrics that I could recycle from looking modern to looking Tudor style.

Here is the original painting I was working from. Lord Kytson is second from the right:

The doublet, with ruff tacked in place...

Trunkhose, made from recycled fabrics...

Loose shirt, with cuffs similar to ruff...

Now I just need to source some more suitable shoes and a feathered hat before we take some photos of both Lord and Lady Kytson together! 

Let me know what you think in the comments! And if you have a chance, definitely head over to the Much Hadham Forge Museum in Hertfordshire to see the amazing wall paintings that have inspired these costumes. More info available here.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Tips for Summer Garden Party Decor

Anyone who has met me will know that I am addicted to Pinterest. I could live my whole life endlessly scrolling through that gorgeous homepage. In fact, somedays I wish I could just dive head first into my laptop screen and just stay there forever, floating around in a world where everything is amazingly photogenic and delicious and colour coordinated beyond perfection, and you could just forget that bad lighting and mismatched stationery and anything less than absolutely-frickin-beautiful ever even existed.

Last week, I was in the French provencale town of Aix-en-Provence, for Yolita's 21st birthday. Our week of sunbathing and casual strolling through the characterful winding streets of Aix was topped of with a wonderful Pinterest-worthy garden party. Cute macarons, patisseries and mini desserts made for a sort of French, Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea!

Of course, my go-to place for inspiration was Pinterest. I've been collecting pretty pictures of party decorations for a long time and this was the perfect chance to bring some of that inspiration to life! Our tables was almost overflowing with colour from flowers, cakes and huge glasses of water flavoured with slices of fruit.

We put a mix of flowers into all different types of jars - mason jars, jam jars, any type or size of glass jar or vase! The mix and match look gives a relaxed yet pretty feel to any arrangement. These look lovely paired with candles too - especially if the party will go from day to night.

I am so glad I finally had a go at making flower ice cubes! They looked so beautiful all collected together in the champagne bucket. We picked all different types of small flowers (we chose small because the cube trays were small, but of course you could make bigger ones) - pink ones, some lighter lilac, lavender, loose petals and also a few mint leaves to add some solid green colour.

The make them, place the flower/leaves in the trays and fill each cube with water only halfway. Whatever you are freezing will probably float to the top, so let the half-filled water freeze (about an hour) before filling each cube up to the top again. Then once again, leave the ice cubes in the trays in the freezer, this time for as long as possible.

The ice cubes in the champagne bucket (although we had a lovely fruity flavour rosé instead!)

Cool water is a must for any summer garden party. Not only will it make it much more interesting, adding slices of fruit will give plain water a great flavour and a rainbow of colour! I added lemon, orange, cucumber and strawberry to these amazing glass containers.

Half the fun of a party is the setting up - choosing the decorations and getting together with friends to make beautiful things happen! Choose a few eye-catching unusual table features such as these, add bunting and your tea party is set. Great photographs start with a basic colour scheme, and it's a good idea to include it in the dress code. But don't become too tied down by it - the best outcomes are always unplanned!

For anyone who would like to nosey at the extent of my Pinterest virtual hoarding, head over to my page - @showtimestitch

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Tudor Costume Progress

Since finishing my university projects I have been working on the next Tudor costume for the Much Hadham Forge Museum. It has really developed since I last had a chance to post about it. In fact, it is almost finished?!

Here are a few preview photos from the making process...

The doublet - black silk with velvet piping
The doublet - inside layers, canvas to give the silk support.
The trunkhose - waistband and panes
More to come soon...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Finished Costume for 'Nosferatu', LCF Project

Somehow my second year at London College of Fashion is already over! We've handed in our plans and proposals for dissertations and final major projects for third year, which I can't believe I will actually be doing in a couple of month's time. I'm really excited to start my research though, I really like the topics I have chosen... (and I hope it stays that way! :P)

Last week we also finished our third term collaboration unit, where the Costume course and Make-Up and Prosthetics course join for group work. It's a really exciting time and so fulfilling when we have a full character realisation at the end.

As I explained in my last post (have a read here) I am designing and making for a female version of Knock from the 1922 film 'Nosferatu', as if it was to be remade by Baz Luhrmann. Our Knock is a madwoman escaping from a Victorian asylum. My design partner and MUA is Lily Brazier - she was lovely to work with and made a really beautiful wig! Her prosthetic wounds on the wrists were really convincing and wonderfully gross! Also thank you to Lucy Calder for being a great model!

I'm so glad to see this costume finished - I went through periods of loving it and hating it, but in the end I am really happy with the finished collaboration with Lily's hair and make-up. Our work came together so well, and I think it looks very convincing. Breaking down was lots of fun (aging the fabric that is, not me stressing!!). Over the long summer break I will post a few tutorials for different effects that I used, because I did find it quite difficult to find tutorials online... Next up, I will be finishing the Tudor Costume for Much Hadham Museum, and making a few things for myself and friends that I have been waiting to do for a very long time!

Oh, and also I'll try to have a bit of a break, but I'm not very good at that... :P

Friday, 30 May 2014

'Nosferatu' - Film Unit Collaboration Project

I am very nearly at the end of my second year at London College of Fashion, already. This year has both flown by and also gone very slowly, if that is even possible! The second year on the Costume for Performance course is very intense, with 18th Century Menswear (see my finished costume here) and an internship term. Our summer term is filled with a collaboration unit, much like our project in Year 1, Term 3 (my Irma costume) and this time the text is the 1922 film, 'Nosferatu'. Our task is to design it as if it were to be remade by a contemporary director - we chose the ever fabulous and fun Baz Lurhmann!

The character I am designing for is Knock, reinterpreted as a woman. Our production is set in the late Victorian era, with a suave and seductive Count Orlock and an insane Knock, imprisoned in an asylum for hysterical women. I have been researching Victorian underwear, asylums and the concept of hysteria, as well as the treatment of those labelled 'lunatic' in the 19th Century.

Here are a few images of my research so far. I have another week to finish my costume, and then I'll share some photos of it here...

My references up on the wall, ready for designing
My initial, rough design
My design after developments
So my costume consists of a chemise/underdress, bustle, petticoat and corset, all very very broken down. I am really looking forward to seeing how my costume progresses this week, it's currently at the stage where it is all coming together very quickly... And my partner Lily's wig, prosthetic and make-up work is stunning, so all in all I am feeling good for this outcome! Fingers crossed...

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Tudor Costume - Panes and a Fitting

I guess it is a good sign when you are working so hard on your projects that you don't actually have time to blog about them... although I do feel guilty for being two weeks behind on updates about the Hadham Tudor costume. Since my last update, I have done two fittings and many changes, here are a few photos. The model is my wonderful dad, who really didn't need much convincing to get dressed up!

Making up the trunkhose panes - I used some vintage gold fabric and trimmed it with gold silk dupion. I think the colours work really well together! And are very close to the original painting, most importantly! After making up 20 panes, I constructed the legs open and flat as shown above, then put the two legs together. 

And the first glimpse of the costume coming together! 

I had a fitting previously to get the size of the trunkhose right, but I still had them too big here... I had plenty of alterations to do, including changing the shape of the panes to better reflect the way they are in the painting, but other than that I am very happy with how it is so far! I have since made these changes and hopefully will have many more photos to post very soon.

At the moment I am also working on a Victorian costume for my university project, 'Nosferatu', as well as planning next year's final year projects and dissertation (!!!). I have a few other projects that I will hopefully be able to post about soon too...all in all I have plenty to share, let's hope I have some time to write everything here very soon! :D

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A quick trip to Paris - Christian Lacroix, Costumier

For Easter weekend a fortnight ago, I visited family in the north east of France. It was great to relax and spend time with family, although the trip was very short, we managed to do a lot! I spent Saturday with my cousin Chloe, and we took a quick day trip to Paris. She showed me around her favourite spots and we made our way to the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art and the Galerie Colbert, for an exhibition of Christian Lacroix's costume designs for ballet and opera.

A few years ago the CNCS, a dedicated costume museum in Moulins, France, had an exhibition of Lacroix's ballet costumes - see my post about it here - I was desperate to go but sadly Moulins is nowhere near our hometown in France, so I never had the chance to see his work. When I heard he was the subject of an exhibition in Paris, I knew I had to go!

I have to be honest and say I was expecting an display a little bigger! This exhibition is really very small! But it's free, and very close by to the Louvre, and all the big museums along the Tuileries, so is perfect for just popping in even if you don't have much time. The display is great introduction to his style, his illustrations and his process. There were sketchbooks and reference images on display as well as fabric swatch pages. His final design sketches were shown alongside bible pages of final fabrics, and three costumes were on display with a video showing some of his work in situe.

A fantastically glamorous design for 'Othello' (1995) and fabric swatches alongside rough sketches.

I love the way Lacroix embraces colour in his work, to create a bold, playful and fun visual style. Tutus, with their layers and layers of net are a fantastic for bringing in plenty of colour. His sketches and paintings are really free-flowing and I love how this gives the subjects movement - perfect for illustrating a ballet costume. This is something I'd like to take into my work, a sense of freedom when drawing. I think it is really important to be able to get your ideas down on paper quickly, so seeing Lacroix's methods of drawing multiple characters on one page in swift lines has given plenty of tips to improve my illustration technique. His pages full of sketches act as a mood board of ideas and show the thought process and development of a costume clearly, which is great for us as exhibition visitors! It gives us a very personal insight. 

Arranged by project, his sketches are displayed alongside reference images, books and fabric swatches in the exhibition. I especially loved the beautiful lace pieces. Below are some sketches from 'Les enfants du sciecle' (1999).

It is really interesting to hear of more and more exhibitions celebrating costume design. If you are a fan of Lacroix's fashion designs or would like a quick introduction into his work in the ballet and opera, this is the exhibition for you! This exhibition is free, and open until 26 June 2014. For more information, go to the INHA website - here.

After a refreshing dose of costume inspiration, Chloe and I finished our trip to Paris with tea and macarons at Ladurée. After all, no trip to Paris is complete without a little bit of Marie Antoinette and a few lovely patisseries! We made sure to take plenty home...