Sunday, 30 May 2010

Preview: Blaming the Weather

The weather has been abysmal of late (or rather whenever Loretta and I have had time to do a photoshoot). It's been raining, the skies have been grey and the rumble of thunder never seeming far away. Thus, instead of waiting for a day of sunshine, we did some quickly indoors in front of a conveniently white wall. I'm trying to think of this as a quick glimpse of what's been made recently rather than an explosion of inferior photography.

A good number of the following are commissions (hopefully, I'll be able to write more extensively about each in the near future) and not being modeled by the person they're commissioned for, they don't fit very well. The items will probably be bundled into parcels (and taken to Maelstrom) before long, so later writeups may simply have to rely on a less-than-ideal photo.

Under the cut, we have brief looks at a chiton, a huge tattercoat (with silver lining and mismatched buttons), striped white cotton brocade overcoat, a green coat, two only slightly different red velvet coats, a bustle dress that is currently giving me a headache, a steampunk waistcoat (based on the steampunk coat), a black coat with patterned fabric.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Buttons of Chaos

I confess there isn't some sort of secret Warhammer 40k agenda or quota this blog has to meet (and it is getting excessive), but the Mercenary couldn't not post these buttons with the Symbol of Chaos on them. I don't really have anything concrete, but some cultist robes are taking shape in my mind.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Prototype: The Inquisitor's Greatcoat

Once more, I play clothes horse to article of clothing was in no way designed to fit me. The Inquisitor's Coat is sized to fit the Proprietor (our archetypal Large) and it is almost a surprise that I'm not completely drowning in it woolly embrace. I suspect it's the shoulderpads (for what Warhammer 40k inspired clothing could possibly do without?) give the illusion of the coat being slightly less huge on me than it would otherwise be. Hopefully, when I rejoin the Proprietor in Merry England, he can be persuaded to model the coat.

The Inquisitor's Coat features the brass Aquila Buttons throughout (see under the cut for a closeup). It is made out of a very thick black wool and lined in a bright red stretch silk.

A blue-black silk-cotton shirt and a dark blue stretch silk skirt with black lace is worn under the coat. This rather clashes with the bright red of the lining and the overall effect leaves a lot to be desired. The lack of suitable weaponry (such as a BFG), accessories and bionics rather leave the ensemble in the realm of low fantasy, but perhaps the reader can use their imagination and imagine the character as an Acolyte from a μ-class world.

Of course, there are many other concepts which would work with the coat, such as a witch-hunter, a gentleman robber or a highwayman, but perhaps we shall elaborate on that when we've pulled together some example outfits and arranged them on the Proprietor.

Very much in its infancy in terms of development (the sketch first appearing in this post some months ago as the "Highwayman's Coat"), I could point to any number of imperfections. Both collars as well as the cuffs can do be being more exaggerated. In retrospect, it could also do with more pockets. I'm toying with a version with giant cuffs that have dagger-loops on them. Perhaps when it comes out of prototype, we shall shall even see it in a number of more daring colours. Or make the collars and cuffs in red as well as the lining.

This was not exactly the easiest of photoshoots. The fact that it was going to be almost impossible for me to look good in a coat two sizes too big for me was of course a contributing factor, but the damp, heavy heat and lack of any decent backdrop made it all the more difficult. Loretta remarked that it was more than ever like being on America's Next Top Model where photos are always done out of season, but I can't say I approve.

This rather intimidating greatcoat prototype should be available at Character Kit at the beginning of next month for £150. Other colours, sizes and buttons available on commission, do email the Mercenary for more details.

Update: The Inquisitor's Greatcoat is now available at Character Kit for the prototype price of £130.

More photos under the cut.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Valshams: Feathered Mantle Prototype

In Skaldskaparmal, the Goddess Freyja is said to possess a valshams or "hawk-coat".  Loki borrows from her her fjaðrhams, "feather-form", so that he may find Thor's lost hammer in Thrymskvida. Generally it's accepted that this refers to a feathered coat or cloak that allows her to take on the form of a bird of prey (a hawk or falcon, usually), though some contend its simply the skin of a bird of prey. It is said to go whoosh (or that's how my professor used to put it) as one uses it to fly through the air.

Despite beginning with that, I'm not exactly convinced I look anything like the goddess Freyja (or Loki for that matter) and whilst I would very much like to say that the inspiration came from the mythical feather form of  the Norse goddess Freyja, it didn't. Rather more mundanely, the Designer was inspired by seeing feather trim for sale in various haberdasheries in Sham Shui Po. 

I made subsequent inquires and once it was possible, our good Tailor started work on the prototype. It was meant to be a cloak in conception, but the supplier only had enough feather trim for a mantle and we agree that it would more versatile and cheaper as that. 

That was some months ago and the schedule got held up and only very recently had I gotten the mantle back from the Tailor. For that reason, these photos and the outfit itself was put together rather hurriedly this morning when it turned out I may get a chance to do some with Loretta. 

The outfit just about works. The Designer thinks that the dress looks vaguely Regency and that the mantle makes him think of a particularly odd fichu that a particularly eccentric lady could be wearing. 

I have to stress, of course, that this doesn't rival the beautiful feather cloaks of the early Hawaiians or the Kahu Huruhuru of the Maori. In construction, this one is really very simple: amounting to stitching row upon row of feather trim onto a very short cape which is fastened with a hook and eye. However, I do think it's very effective.

Loretta was overall rather displeased with my inability to keep a straight face. In my defense, she was telling me to "Look into the distance... no, I mean the tennis courts" and that we needed an Elder Carrie with a hairdryer to use as a makeshift wind machine like they have on real photoshoots.

Depending on feedback, Feathered Mantles may be going into production in the coming months and will cost somewhere around £60. Should you desire to commission one in other colours (like black, dark green or dark red), it should cost a similar amount. Longer cloaks are also possible, just email in and ask.

Update: The Feathered Mantle is now available at Character Kit for £60.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Down Merlin Street: Two Vintage Pseudo-Georgian Dresses

Elder Carrie and the Costume Mercenary were wandering down Merlin Street (near Fortress Hill in Hong Kong), when we stumbled upon an antique shop named Hong Kong Treasures. It's full of wonderfully random and beautiful old things, but what caught my eye was the Georgian-esque dress in the shop window. I spoke with the man (whom Elder Carrie later described as being Antonio Banderas' more flamboyant and more East Asian brother) and he told me that both dresses were made in the 60s. They are really rather pretty, though I do think having the mannequin holding the pink box doesn't help.

The other dress is more pinkish, it was what caught my eye in the dark window when we walked past, but it's a lot less visible in the photos due to the angle at which I had to take the photo and is rather more obscured by the sign.

The beading and the detail on both the dresses are exquisite and though certainly not historically accurate to the period they're alluding to, they are themselves a beautiful piece of costume history.

A few more photos under the cut.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Dagon and Various Odyssey Concept Sketches

The Mercenary confesses to have been neglecting the blog of late, for the most part due to taking Elder Carrie around Mordor (read: Hong Kong and Macau).

The above is a banner she picked out in our travels together as a phys-rep for the upcoming live roleplay event, Odyssey. It's suppose to be the centerpiece of an alter to the Carthaginian god Dagon, The Hungry Abyss: 
Those who make the sea their living must pay a tithe to Dagon of one third of their cargo or one third of their crew, the Leviathan cares not which.
The market seller informed me that the batik wall-hanging is made by Chinese farmers during years when the harvests are sub-standard for a bit of extra money and that good years (like this one) meant that there's something of a shortage. He's branched into selling incredibly tacky sunglasses instead.

I needn't reiterate the differences between Odyssey's Carthage and the historical one, especially with regards to dress. A lot of hearsay and colourful conjecture comes to life and is taken to its most compelling extreme.

The Carthaginian man to the left is a wearing quite a simple costume, with a black tunic, a sleeveless fur vest (or if you're the Designer, "a crop top") and blue trousers. The symbol of Astrate decorate his tunic and he has the tails of various beasts at his waist.

Elder Carrie has been introducing me to De Dea Syria, a text by (probably) Lucian of Samosata, as inspiration for Carthaginian religion. In its rambling, witty way, the text describes vividly cock-shaped idols, ritual prostitution, cross-dressing priests, temples built over abysses, miracles of severed heads and infant sacrifice.
I will tell you why this story seems worthy of credence. A human head comes every year from Egypt to Byblos, floating on its seven days' journey thence: the winds, by some divine instinct, waft it on its way: it never varies from its course but goes straight to Byblos. The whole occurance is miraculous. It occurs every year, and it came to pass while I was myself in Byblos, and I saw the head in that city.
To the right is yet another Carthaginian man (this time with half an animal strapped to his back). I like the asymmetry of the armour on his arms, but I wonder if it would be rather irritating in real life. I admit, they are rather similar (most of the Durham live roleplayers are going as Carthage so I was persuaded to attempt a few more Carthaginian sketches) and I should probably throw some more sky blue in there. It just seems rather difficult to say crazy cultist with light blue.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Gentleman's Wardrobe

I'm finally getting around to sorting through and posting the photos from the last photoshoot we did.

This ensemble was made for the model's Maelstrom character some years ago. The colour scheme largely stems from the character's patriotic fervour (though the waistcoat is more of a lilac than a purple).

The coat is made from a wool-linen blend in forest green. The buttons are painted wood rather than brass, though they do look nicely solid. The lilac brocade waistcoat bears a paisley-like pattern. It bears matching buttons. The breeches are made from a thin wool suiting in light grey. The white linen shirt with a standing collar and mother-of-pearl buttons is basic in design. Its sleeves are puffed, but only in moderation.

The white stockings worn are improvised from a pair of old tights. They seem to stay up only by the power of roleplay as they mysteriously and unfailingly slip whenever the gentleman in question wandered onto the Out of Character field. It has been theorized that this could be due to a change in the way he walked in and out of character.

The photo to the right has been remarked upon as not unsuited to being the promotional image for some BBC historical miniseries. I spent far too long wondering what sort of witty caption to give up, but I confess, I've got nothing. 

In Other News: Formal apologies from the Costume Mercenary for misspelling "Aquila" in the previous post. I have been since branded a heretic and the post has been duly corrected.

More photos under the cut.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Aquila: Buttons of the Imperium

The picture rather speaks for itself. I was in Sham Shui Po today and found these rather excellent buttons with the Aquila on them. They come in two sizes and two colours (brass and gunmetal). The 3 in the middle of the button is a little odd, but in both live roleplay contexts I can immediately think of (40k and of course, Maelstrom's Freiboden) it can be easily seen as part of regimental insignia of some sort.

Keep a weather eye on the blog, as this is the sort of button we design coats around.

What do you think of the buttons?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Exhibition of Costumes from The Banquet and The Warlords

I know this isn't really a movie costume blog, but I was wandering through the Hong Kong International Airport and I stumbled upon an exhibition of movie costumes. It was really quite awesome and (as I happened to have a camera with me) as I took a lot of photos for reference and inspiration, it seems appropriate to share them here.

The costume to the right is Empress Wan's Coronation Robe from The Banquet (inexplicably re-titled in America as Legend of the Black Scorpion).  I remember it rather fondly from the film, and it is still more than slightly striking in person (though I do think the rather harsh yellow lighting of the room did it no favours).

Though I have typed up the exhibition blurbs verbatim (odd syntax, dodgy grammar and all), I have to say they are rather uninformative as to materials and methods used. The cloth of the beautifully elaborate phoenix dress is described only as "high quality fabric."

The other interesting film there were costumes from was The Warlords. They also had various props (including a pair of lovely embroidered slippers) and accessories in glass cases, but those were not as well displayed.

The armour is utterly sumptuous in its detail. Even the clasps are highly decorated.  I particularly liked squinting at the joins and trying to work out how the bits all fitted together. Historical Chinese armour is by no means a field in which I know much about, but I am sorely tempted to borrow design elements from these costumes now.

There were also a few costumes from modern-era films that I wasn't exactly fascinated by, but I took a couple of photos anyway and they are under the cut.

Among the most impressive pieces was the Golden Armour. It appeared in The Warlords, though it was never actually worn in it. The blurb informs me that is why it is the heaviest of all the pieces made. I wonder how impractical it is to move in. I particularly like how the padded sleeves are studded with these beautiful gold discs. It's just insanely detailed.

In Other News: I'm writing a random saint generator. It is fun.

More photos (and exhibition blurbs) under the cut.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...