Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Black Velvet Coat with Embroidered Lining

This coat is made from black viscose velvet and is lined with a black faux silk that's embroidered with pink rosebuds. It has three large brass rose buttons on the cuff. The coat is edged with a black-and-gold jacquard trim. The sleeves are three-quarters in length and are meant to show off large lace cuffs (the ones of the shift are rather inadequate).

In design it's very simple, but it's the detail in the buttons and the matching trim and embroidered lining.

The coat is worn with a white linen shift and a skirt made of black lace layered on black faux silk. The coat is better worn with more elaborate trappings.

These photos were taken towards the end of day and I was beginning to look rather tired, even if I wasn't feeling it yet. These are the only half-decent photos to result and to be honest, I'm not convinced it really does the whole thing justice. The embroidered lining is beautiful, though the faux silk does rustle rather loudly

We briefly thought it was a brilliant idea for me to pose lying down in the white flowers and juxtaposing it with the rosebud-embroidered lining. The Designer thinks its a good photo, despite the almost painfully unnatural pose and my utter inability to keep a straight face during. It's under the cut in order for me to preserve me a smidgen of dignity.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost £90-100, though significantly cheaper with a plainer lining.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Future is Made of Pipes: Greatcoat Prototype

The coat is made of a coarse charcoal-coloured wool subtly-patterned with a pattern of swirls. It owes its existence to the rather lovely buttons and is based loosely on the greatcoat worn by Captain Jack from Torchwood, but most greatcoats follow a similar pattern.

The coat has weapon straps on the left. The 42" bastard sword (from Character Kit, which incidentally is currently having a sale) is neatly concealed there. There's a rather glare-heavy photo of the sword in the straps under the cut.

The buttons are very heavy and are black and silver in colour. They have a weathered look to them and from them we had originally planned the coat to seem "post-apocalyptic" and later, these photos to be cyberpunk (hence the choice of the pipes and air vents of the science site as a location) but the frilly shirt, the sword and the addition of the goggles, takes it perhaps to some odd urban fantasy setting. Though quite decidedly a *punk derivative.

Afterwards, we tossed around ideas about this man being a steampunk pirate or some sort of fugitive in a dystopic future. We're not entirely sure. What do you think?

The swirls were not part of the original design. We made the decision based entirely on a small swatch of the fabric, not realising what seemed like an irregularity of the cloth was actually part of a large swirly pattern. By the time we realised this, the cloth was bought and we were locked in our decision.

That all said, the coat is still very warm and serves at least that primary function admirably (Easter events get very cold) and the swirls give it a unique touch.

The coat is worn with a frilly shirt and black trousers. In the shots by the disused swimming baths, there is different white shirt with a high collar.

Also being worn in the photos are the homemade brass "beer" goggles, the tutorial of which can be found here.

To commission a similar (perhaps less swirly) coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £100.

As always, many more photos under the cut.

Steampunk Designs Poll

The Mercenary and the Designer have been playing around with various designers for some time now and we've been debating which ones should go into prototype. We're excited about many of these ideas and it's unlikely that we'll have time to realise all of them.

This being the world of tomorrow and instant communications, a poll seems to be an obvious answer to such dilemmas. Therefore please click onwards, dear reader!

Which of the Steampunk Sketches should we make a prototype of? 

pollcode.com free polls

See under the cut for further descriptions and pictures.

Also, if you're interested in commissioning these designs or version of these designs, do email the Costume Mercenary and ask for a quote.

I'd love to hear any feedback and discussion on the designs. The ideas are still largely in flux and the sketches don't necessarily reflect design choices that would be made further along the line between now and cutting the fabric.

Update: When I said late next week, what I meant was mid-June, it seems. But the first glimpse of the Steampunk Buckle Dress (more snazzy name needed) can be seen in the Ambush Valley photoshoot preview.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Odyssey Concept Sketches: Egypt

As the Proprietor said the other day, the main problem with Egypt is that whilst real Egyptians probably had warm garments of one sort or another for their nippy winter nights, but very little of it seems to have imprinted on our cultural imagination which is more made up of the infamously expensive Cleopatra film (staring Elizabeth Taylor in the titular role) and the Mummy films than anything else. Anak-su-namun in the the opening sequence of The Mummy was wearing little more than jewellery and body paint.

Melting perfume cones seem somewhat out of the question (though points for anyone who's trying) and Odyssey's Egypt favour greens in particular (rather than blue, which I presume is in part due to other nations also having blue high on their list).

The Egyptian priestess to the left is wearing a cream-coloured dress and cape, beaded collar and matching snake headdress with beaded veil. She also wearing gold-plated vambraces with a red gem. Her decorative apron (for a lack of a better word) has on it the Djed symbol and hieroglyphs that can be roughly translated as "All life protection" (I'm sure people who know better will correct me in the comments).

We refrained from drawing any circular capes which were worn by the historical Egyptians to keep warm mostly because they're very dull to draw (being a giant circle of cloth with a hole cut in the middle for the head).

The Designer and myself came to an agreement that we would be trying to push for less naked torsos in these Egyptian concept sketches and then he went off and drew the architect to the right with the dubious abs, shirtlessness and exposed knees. After the exceptionally ornate woman (above) he wanted to draw a more low status man, possibly an attendant.

The Mercenary confesses to have been the least inspired by Odyssey's Egypt in terms of costume (which is why two of the three sketches here are done by the Designer - you could probably tell by his much more meticulous attitude to detail, my sketches tend to be much blobbier) and the woman in the brown leather armour (below) was only made Egyptian during the inking process when the Designer, hovering behind me (as usual) pointed out that the armour seems to fit the description of "leather bands on the torso".

This was, of course, Egyptian cultural armour and hence I added in the Eye of Horus and the eyeliner. But now I'm not quite as sure about its Eyptian status upon rereading the costume guidelines since it does also imply that the bands should either be in the shape of a rough harness or a complex overlapping arrangement. Still, she does serve for an example as to how the details make an outfit and tip it from culture to another. I like that she wears a darker shade than the Designer's more traditionally cream and pastel wearing Egyptians (he gave me rather detailed instructions in the margins about the colours for sketches after realising my Purple habit).

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Preview: Excursion about Durham

This was the first excursion with the borrowed tripod. The Mercenary's camera is still missing, so we had to borrow one. We were a rather larger adventuring party than normal and for a change, we aren't deficient in the testosterone for the male costumes.

The Designer thinks the ash from the volcano has made the sunlight more diffuse. The Designer wrestling with the tripod was fascinating to watch, but not conducive to maintaining a relatively serious expression.

Aside from the Durham University Science Site, we had no specific itinerary. We were simply wandering through Durham and posing next to interesting buildings and catching the light wherever we can. This is quite the greatest number of locations we've used in one day. We took a good number behind Old Shire Hall (the red brick building in the photo to the left, which used to be the University's office), by the proverbial "cardiac" Hill (on which the Biology department squats), Old Durham Baths (abandoned and boarded up now, apparently once had an illegal rave in it) and a stream on the footpath by Prebends Bridge.

Due to it being a Saturday, we pretty much had the arse end of the various science departments to ourselves and we had all the warning signs, suspicious barrels, fire escapes, large black pipes and air vents - we were planning for a cyberpunk shoot but the frilly shirt on the man seemed to have shifted it to steampunk, possibly even pirate.

Hopefully in the coming days I'll be posting more pictures of the steampunk swordsman (top) and the distinguished gentleman in the green coat, as well as a gormless peasant and lady in a variety of dresses (including the velvet dress to the right).

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Simple Green Dress

We've lost the camera and spent two hours solidly looking for it (many theories, but current favourite is that Maelstrom ate it). Not to miss the dregs of what would have been a rather splendid day for photography, we did a few in the garden with a camera-phone. We certainly couldn't try out the tripod/space-laser we borrowed (it bears a slight resemblance - the day it arrived we spent a good evening pointing it at each other, posing dramatically and snarling lines from generic science fiction).

The dress itself is very simple. It's made of a dark teal linen, long sleeves, high-ish waisted and with deep pleats along the back. It was last seen worn under this green and purple riding gown. It takes cues from the most recent Pride and Prejudice film, though unlike those gowns it doesn't reach the floor in length.

I'm also wearing one of those tiny brass pendant watches on a long chain. Due to being excessively fiddly, they don't make clockwork versions of these watches (I bought them in as samples back when my contact assured me that they did them in clockwork as well).

In some ways it's not really a costume dress (though I think it was worn to a few times as kit). It seems strange to confess that I just wear it around the house due to it being quite comfortable. A little like Jane Burden Morris but with less scandalising the neighbours by doing tapestry in long flowing pseudo-medieval dresses (but probably with as much historical accuracy when it comes to the actual garment).

I suppose we were going for a sort of barefoot-and-carefree look for the photos, but it's difficult to achieve that with a large field to frolic in. And a large floppy straw hat.

Should you too wish to indulge in such a silly bohemian fancy, a similar dress would cost £35-40 to commission from the Costume Mercenary.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Inside the Shoebox of Art Supplies

The scanner is refusing to cooperate for some reason. I'm sure it's a good reason, but either way, I'll have to wrestle it a bit before new sketches are coming to the blog. (Shown above is a Carthaginian man, a dress from a Waterhouse painting, a red smoking jacket). As said before, despite good weather, the Designer (also photographer) is busy during most days. Also, I'm looking to finalise designs before I start nosing around the Cloth Market and Sham Shui Po again in a few weeks, so I'm in theory supposed to be hard at work with a pencil instead of prancing around in silly clothes.

(I'm also trying to dye a hideous pink-and-yellow dress "Burlesque Red" in the washing machine, but that's probably a story for another day.)

Instead, I thought I'd take a few snapshots of what the great Shoebox of Art Supplies and ramble about the contents therein as a probably quite dull insight into the not particularly sophisticated workings of the Costume Mercenary.

Friday, 9 April 2010

A Carthaginian Philosopher

There are very few acceptable excuses the Mercenary can plead for recent tardiness of updating (including attending Maelstrom, tidying the resultant mess and being distracted by a book of late seventeeth century costume engravings, but more that a different day), so I will attempt to not dwell upon it.

Some time ago, the Mercenary and the Designer were batting around ideas for Carthaginian costumes for the Profound Decisions' Odyssey LRP and it occurred to us that we probably had the makings of full outfit if we gathered together the various bits of troll kit, leather armour and Middle Eastern robes we had.

The robes are most immediately inspired by the Sibylla's various costumes in the film Kingdom of Heaven. The Designer and myself were admiring them when toying around with ideas for complicated layered outfits when we came up with the various layers only slightly visible in the photos. The Carthaginian philosopher pictured is wearing of the original robes: a sheer white cotton voile dress with huge sleeves; beige linen trousers, tied with leather thonging around the calf; a dark blue linen A-line drawstring skirt; a light blue open robe with short sleeves made in crushed velvet; a dark purple faux silk sash and a lilac scarf.

The faux fur jerkin was from a charity shop, as is the belt that is slung across the chest as armour. The actual leather armour is from a seller on ebay, bought some years ago and was advertised as being modelled after Guinevere's Battle Costume in the film King Arthur. The most obvious difference between the two is, of course, that the film's version is made from braided leather and the one pictured is made from thonging threaded through strips of leather in a criss-cross pattern.

Most of the clutter of jewellery is bought from charity shops (I seem to remember the silver belt to be originally from Accessorize) and made by the Mercenary herself. Various charity shop belts were modified and have bones (the remains of many excellent dinners) and beads tied to them.

The blue glass fishing float was bought as a phys-rep some time ago and is used again here along with a wooden cup in the traditional hang-as-many-cool-things-off-yourself-as-possible school of costuming. It does strike us in retrospect as overkill. The Designer said whilst looking at the photos that: "The problem is that it's [the fishing float] too awesome, it's more awesome than your face."

The photos in question are taken at the Durham University Botanic Gardens. We were really just happy for anything that didn't immediately look like the English countryside. Words such as it's the wrong continent, but it's foreign, so it'll do were uttered more than once.

More photos under the cut.

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