Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Odyssey Concept Sketches: Greek

Here are some of the Costume Mercenary's sketches of costumes for Profound Decision's Odyssey, set in a fantasy version of the classical world. The first event takes place five years after Alexander the Great has tried and failed to conquer heaven.

We're starting with the Greeks, which are in part, have some of the more dull costumes. It was where I began and also where practicing drawing many women in long flowing robes (or chiton, wikipedia offers a nice little diagram as to how to construct one) and sandals.

I imagine the lady to the right to be an Oracle of Poseidon, the god of consequences as well as the sea. She's also wearing sleeves, which are more or less long arm-coverings "tied or laced around the forearm, wrist and hand... possibly with a hole for the thumb."*

The idea of garments depicting mythical scenes is a common one in epic poetry. In Apollonius of Rhodes' Argonautica, for example, Hypsipyle gives Jason an elaborately embroidered purple cloak depicting many mythological scenes. Helen is found in her room,

"...weaving a large cloth, a double purple cloak,
creating pictures of the many battle scenes
between horse-taming Trojans and bronze-clad Achaeans,
wars they suffered for her sake at the hands of Ares."
The Iliad, Book Three: Paris, Menelaus, Helen, translated by Ian Johnston

Part of me is still convinced that the depiction of heroic deeds on garments is more of a literary device than it was a physical reality, but the temptation to draw such a garment was enough for me to make the attempt. The Designer and I spoke briefly of attempting to create such a garment through the use of batik (rather than embroidery, which would take forever) but are undecided if it would entirely be worth the effort.

The scorning of traditional Greco-Roman colour scheme of white, white and more white is more due to an inability to paint in white than any conscious design choice. To be honest, even James Laver's really very outdated Costume and Fashion: A Concise History* recognises the fallacy of using white marble statues as one's sole source of historical costuming, so I really don't think there's any excuse.

I have drawn some men, some Greek men at that and I'll post them in due course.


* Herbert Norris, Ancient European Costume and Fashion (1999); much of the inspiration for these costumes come from him as well.

* Laver's book is still on fashion students' reading lists everywhere and I've been reading it. I'll post a full review up at some point. I'm not sure being written in the 1970s is a valid excuse for quite all the errors it contains, especially since it has allegedly since been revised and updated.


  1. Ooh, these are pretty. Also, Helen would look FIERCE in a cloak adorned with men battling for her. Wish I'd thought of that as a costume before the 3YGB, tbh.

  2. You're a classicist, woman! I shouldn't need to tell you what's in the Iliad.

    Though that would make a very fine picture (actually weaving a cloak of fighting men, less easy). But I do think I have a sketch of a Greek woman who could do with a cloak.

  3. Batik is supereasy, I've done it before. It could be done with minimum fuss, worth it if you think it's worth it.

  4. i`m in love with greek sketches dude!!!



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