Thursday, 24 February 2011

Not Quite Waterhouse's Miranda: Linen Kirtle and Cotehardie

The underdress (or kirtle) is in red linen and is laced under the arm. The overgown (or cotehardie to use the more controversial term) is in a coarse teal linen and is buttoned down the front.

Not half as windswept and certainly without the sinking ship, but still slightly reminiscent of John William Waterhouse's Miranda which was what inspired this simple medieval-esque ensemble. The sketch was done quite a few months ago, though without much intention of ever being made then. The shape of the sleeves have altered somewhat and we added the buttons down the front. It does seem a shame to have the lovely red linen kirtle is almost completely hidden by the overgown. It is possible to construct it as one garment like the banquet dress recently sketched.

There's a temptation to ramble about the colours and symbolism, repressed passion and unleashed tempests, but it seems somewhat far-fetched. And the Pillywiggen would probably never forgive me.

Like the rest of Shakespeare's work, the Tempest has been having a healthy afterlife. Most recently, The Tempest recently been made into a film with albeit quite a different aesthetic, though their costume designer, Sandy Powel, did get nominated an Academy Award for her work in it.

The orc dagger and other weapons are, as usual, from Character Kit.

To commission a similar kirtle or overgown individually would cost in the region £40-50, though a set would cost £70-90. To buy the prototype set (sized to a UK size 16, but somewhat adjustable) from the Costume Mercenary would cost in the region of £70.

More photos of the Miranda under the cut.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Commission: Onontakhan Shirt and Trousers

The Onontakhan Shirt is made from brown linen with faux suede insets. The drawstring trousers are of the same brown faux suede. The feather-form is also worn.

The basic shirt design is based loosely on this sacred shirt, without the fringing. This is not meant to represent any actual indigenous peoples of the Americas beyond the fact that the fictional race and culture of the Onontakhan are inspired by them in a variety of ways.

The Onontakhan of Profound Decision's Maelstrom campaign are one of the native factions of the New World. The almanac (itself an in-character document laden with prejudice) describes them as such:

They stand as tall as any civilized being but dress in furs and hides that they take from the creatures they hunt. Like a dragon, their bodies are covered in fine scales, though theirs are of various colours and patterns.... they use arrows and wooden spears tipped with flint to hunt and have no knowledge of the practices of civilized people such as farming, architecture and commerce.
We dispensed with the snakeskin makeup because we were afraid we might get some on the clothes, which we did make us feel like we were playing "Cowboys and Indians" and can't help but feel a little sheepish about it.

Both glassfibre bows seen in the photos are available from Character Kit, at £50 and £55 (the shorter and the longer, respectively).

The jewellery (or to use the technical term from around here "tat") has been seen before with the Carthaginian Philosopher. It was made from chicken bones (from stew we were making) and beads (wood and bone, mostly from the now liquidated Lebeado) and suede thonging. It's not meant to be accurate, but along with the feathered mantle and the bow, it actually seemed to fit together to make an outfit rather than just be a shirt and trousers someone just happened to be wearing.

To commission a similar set of shirt and trousers from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £30-33. The feathered mantle is available for £60 on Character Kit.

More photos of the Onontakhan outfit under the cut.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Uniquely Beautiful

Moment of odd pride, a friend of a friend asked if she could usea photo of Loretta in the riding coat for The Uniquely Beautiful Project. For what it's worth, it's a 1-year challenge to celebrate the beauty of real women. If you're curious, go pootle over and have a look (Loretta's Day Seven).

Yes, mild ego boost in ability to take half-decent photos.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Preview: Mirroring the Pre-Raphaelites

The anachronisms of the lady in pseudo-renaissance dress reading in an Victorian/Edwardian room almost blew the mind of the Designer when he saw the photos, though I suppose thinking back to how Jane Morris and her friends used to swan about their Victorian houses in pseudo-medieval splendour, it has a strangeness that I rather like.

Which could arguably be said to be the theme of the day since there are also heavy inspirations from Waterhouse's paintingMiranda - the Tempest (the 1916 one, not this earlier Miranda). We did joke that the river Wear, picturesque in its own right, isn't quite the stormy sea and the Prince Bishop (our local river cruiser) probably isn't up for sinking in the name of painting re-enactment. 

So I'm really rather glad we didn't succumb to the temptation to simply do the photos in the garden. And the Archaeologist (my lovely model of the day) needed to go to Palace Green Library anyway. 

We were in Durham Castle for the most part and there were three outfits in total, though the various layers got their own photos. The steampunk tailcoat of the previous post appears again (apparently with the power of making anyone feel significantly more dashing than they felt before), but in dark blue. There are some plans to do some of the black as well but I think we're running out of ideas of how to make the next set more different.

We brought some of the swords and they were duly twirled, as were braids and daggers. There was the reprimanding of impertinent bollards and dodging passer-bys. The Archaeologist even duelled a small child holding a stick when playfully challenged (and died a very dramatic death).

Grey overcast days have delayed these photos for almost half a week and it all seems to spite me as it was now too bright. Most of the photos turned out utterly sun-drenched and we seemed to be battling overexposure. I had wanted some shots with the castle keep in view, but between the bright sunlight and the camera's auto-adjustments, the castle was nowhere to be seen (see under the cut). Looking at the photos now, it's tempting to attribute some form of science fiction cloaking ability to the keep (after all, it's not as old as it looks).

More photos in the days to come and the disappearing castle under the cut.

Concept Sketches: A Mostly Medieval Banquet Dress

For all the dresses on the blog, we don't often commissions for them and certainly not to design them froms scratch. Perhaps it's due to their inherent lack of practicality (and frequently very character-specific nature, for those in larp and believe in the curse*) . So I was rather pleased when I was asked to do a banquet dress.

For those who don't live around here, Durham University Treasure Trap hosts anual banquets for current members past and present (and friends!). It's a weekend of dancing and drinking, feasting and fighting (the tournament for weaponsmaster is traditionally held the day after the banquet).

The dress was supposed to be light (as despite being held in Feburary, the hall is almost always very warm) and easy to dance in. It was also to be green.

I was intent on using these golden ivy leaf buttons (and we ended up buying the supplier out of them, which is very inconvenient for any future designs hinging on them), which seemed to dictate at least a touch of the elven.

A meander through costume books later (for all their faults, John Peacock's books are good for that sort of spirited, illustrated gallop through western costume history), we had settled on the high middle ages and sketching happened (the results of which illustrate this post).

Of course, there are also the green dagged sleeves.*

Hopefully there will photos of the lovely woman in her own dress next weekend.


* In live roleplay, it commonly believed that you will have doomed your character the moment you buy them character-specific kit. They will likely die within an event and you will never be able to wear that gorgeous frockcoat/ dress/ shirt/ armour/ jewellry ever again.

* The Designer has been teasing me for some time about the fact that the only character in my alleged novel who had any physical description (clothing or otherwise) was wearing green dagged sleeves. I have, apparently, an obsession.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Prototype: Velvet and Brocade Tailcoat

A sort of unisex version of the steampunk velvet tailcoat. In the button-related negotiations and the consequent chaos of the various revisions, we ended up buying significantly more brass mock-filigree buttons than were needed for one coat. Staring at the several gross of remains, we decided that the design can't have been that bad if we managed to sell off both of the surplus coats.

The full-skirted tailcoat is made from cotton velvet with brocade revers and lined in faux silk. The buttons are all decorative and the garment fastens in the front with two brass clasps.

With the swords and the filigree mask, there's something of a particularly eccentric highwayman, perhaps with steampunk (or even clockpunk, given the excessively frilly shirt) inclinations, leaping on unsuspecting travellers from his giant cog.

In retrospect, I do prefer the sketches with the double-breasted front (see under the cut) instead of the brass clasps, but this does make the garment more flexible in terms of sizing and gender. Originally conceived of as a woman's coat, it works remarkably well on male model (which is a nice change of pace from me modelling too-large male coats).

The brocade tailcoat is currently available in Mens Medium and UK Ladies 16-18 for £75. It comes in black, royal blue and emerald green. To commission the tailcoat in other colours and sizes would cost more or less the same amount.

The green greaves are from full set of unique green armour Clockwork Firebird Designs has been working on as a custom commission. It has matching vambraces and a suede jerkin.

The golden filigree mask is from Reeshiebeads (custom-made, £20). The swords are a Scimitar and a Fey Longsword, both available from Character Kit. The brocade tailcoat is also worn with a linen frilly shirt and fall-front trousers, both of which are from the Mercenary.

That is also quite possibly the longest credits list I've had for a post like this. Which goes to show steampunk highwaymen are by far the most overdressed of all the dandies that have appeared on this blog. Perhaps I should keep it shorter with a string of links and morph into a photoblog...

More photos of the steampunk velvet tailcoat under the cut.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Prototype: Steampunk Waistcoat

If you recall, the Mercenary had ordered a great deal of cog-and-screw buttons not so very long ago and we've been wondering what to do with them. And such is one of the solutions.

The steampunk waistcoat is made of faux suede (coming in midnight blue, black and brown), lined in faux silk. It's a fully double-breasted waistcoat with two flap pockets and one hidden pocket. There is also a half belt at the back for a more dapper shaping.

The buttons add a touch of steampunk to the otherwise quite normal waistcoat and the hidden pocket gives it greater utility.

The double-breasted nature of the waistcoat means it can be won three basic ways, as can be seen in the prototype double-breasted waistcoat.

In a fit of faulty memory, the Mercenary has managed to photograph the brown twice but the black not at all. This should be remedied in due course and there will be some photos of the midnight blue one. I would call it navy, but it is much darker than that. It wasn't until we held it next to the black did we realise that it wasn't quite black.

The giant cog is part of a public sculpture about the founding of Durham Cathedral (Bishop Aldhun, Dun Cow, etc) and is, in fact, actually a pillar segment. The linen frilly shirts won by both models and the fall front trousers are both from the Mercenary. The felt topper is from the ebay. The rather battered musket pretending to be a hunting rifle belongs to the Proprietor.

The first few steampunk waistcoats are up on the Character Kit website for £35. It's available in black (large only) and brown (medium and large).

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Photos of Photos of Costumes

It feels more than a little strange taking photos of photos.

The photobook catalogue-thing arrived today and I'm really rather pleased with it.

After the Designer suggested I should have photos of past commissions and assorted other absent costumes with me when manning a stall, we wondered about the various options. A slideshow was suggested but power supply is hardly guaranteed when you're predominately a larp trader. We toyed with having an album with traditional photos in it or a home printed catalogue and after much vacillation (and math) decided on the above.

It's a tidy little photobook, roughly A5-sized, good to stand on a stall at events (like Nerd East, which is happening sometime in June). There's just over thirty pages to it. The whole thing took two fretty, sleepless night to arrange and perfect. The web-based programme was easy enough to use and was very friendly up until I wanted to put text in. Then aligning it became a nightmare as there was no way to zoom in or institute a snap-to grid. Much squinting and finger-crossing later, it looks regular enough.

(For those who are wondering, that's the black cassock, triple-caped coatsteampunk waistcoat and laced gambeson in the photos.)

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Preview: a Wander by the River

Much as the ruined chapel has provided us with many beautiful photographs, it seemed to be getting a tad repetitive, so today the Designer led us to the broken railway bridge. On the way there we did stop by the giant pillar segments cogs (last seen in the photos with the steampunk pirate) which appear with the tailcoat.

1896-1897 map of Durham,
map from  Old Maps
We ended up cheekily festooning the cow statue with our coats, in vain attempt to keep them out of the mud (photo under the cut). The nearby bandstand is topped with the cricket pun, "Lest time bails you out."

The ruined railway bridge we use in many of today's photos was part of the passenger service from Durham Elvet to Sunderland. It wasn't particularly popular and in the latter years of its forty-year history ran for only one day a year (that day being the Miner's Gala in July). The Durham Elvet station has since been demolished and apparently an office block stands where it once was.

The beautiful golden wire mask in the first photo is made by the lovely Reesha Dyer (of Reeshiebeads). She makes many gorgeous (and some slightly silly) things at very reasonable prices. A mask similar to the one pictured would cost in the region of £20 from her.

The laced leather vambraces are from Clockwork Firebird Designs (also on etsy). They're hand-dyed a lovely shade of green and have matching greaves.

The weapons are a scimitar and fey dagger, both normally available from Character Kit, though both tragically out of stock.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Commission: Morrigan's Goatskin Skirt

This skirt is made from leather and goatskin. It was commissioned as a cosplay piece for Morrigan, the witch of the wild, is a mage from Bioware's computer roleplay game Dragon Age: Origins.

Her character design has changed significantly from her concept art to here appearance in the Sacred Ashes trailer to her actual in-game model. Her skirt appears rather softer and more tentacular in its earlier incarnation, not to mention the dramatically different shirt.

This goatskin skirt is based predominately off this piece of concept art. The in-game model wears a much neater version, with the dropped belts being much more rigid and regular. The much messier, organic look of the concept art works far better with reality. It did, however, take far more belts than originally thought.

It was only the skirt that was commissioned from us, but for the purposes of these quick photos, Julie did throw together a red cowl and deployed an eldritch spear to complete the look.

A set of leather armour for the character Zevran was also commissioned. We may get some photos of that eventually, perhaps even, the new owners willing, some at the convention they're going to.

To commission a similar skirt would cost in the region of £150, though this may fluctuate depending on the cost of materials used.

A few more photos of morrigan's skirt under the cut.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Pale Green Linen Pet-en-l’air

This pet-en-l'air and its ruffle-frill trim is made of pale green linen and lined in cream cotton. It is fastened down the front with hooks and eyes, as well as matching pale green satin ribbon.

This "pet-en-l'air jacket" (as it is called in the collection, though it has also been called a casaquin or caraco) is based loosely on one in Manchester Art Gallery, dated to around 1780-90. According to the gallery description, the original was reputed to have belonged to Eva Marie Veigel, wife of playwright and actor David Garrick.

The original pet-en-l'air has become rather popular online and has appeared on a string of tumblr blogs, including OMG that dressHistorical Fashion and Defunct Fashion. It has also appeared on Fuchsia's 18th century dress blog, where it was called a "little temptress of a very short pet-en-l'air."

Needless to say, this is not an exact replica. It is simplified somewhat in its construction and is shaped to fit a significantly less heavily corseted form. However, like the original, the sacque back has narrow pleats stitched down at shoulders and loose below.

The ribbon ties across the front are on the messy side and can perhaps do with being shorter (though this make them trickier to tie). The button-loops at the inner edge of the elbow-length sleeves could also do with adjusting shorter to accentuate the gatherings.

The pet-en-l'air was worn with a dark purple faux silk skirt, a white cotton voile chemise and a wreath of very silly desiccated red roses.

It was rather late in the day when these photos were taken and the bright, yellow light seemed to push it to the side of overexposure.

To commission a similar casaquin in linen or cotton would cost in the region of £50-55.

More photos of the linen pet-en-l'air under the cut.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Commission: Dashing Asymmetrical Naval Uniform

The coat of the uniform has appeared in the post entitled Dashing Asymmetrical Military Coat, though somewhat less dashingly worn in those set of rather hurried indoor photos. In the same post can be found the photos of the replica uniform (Soldier of the Portuguese War Fleet, c. 1761, taken at the Macau Maritime Museum) that this outfit was based off. Almost all the design decisions were made based on extensive squinting at the replica uniform rather than further research (which was for the most part incredibly fruitless).

The coat, waistcoat, breeches and gaiters are all made from the same soft dark blue wool. The coat has two inside pockets and is lined in faux silk and red wool. The mock-braiding is for the most part unremarkable, but the ensemble does features almost a hundred shiny gold buttons. The high-collared frilly shirt worn under it all is in white linen.

It does appear we have yet to perfect what we're doing with the gaiters, (having conducted further research, I can now say that they're supposed to be buttoned to the bottom of the breeches). We may be seeing a new incarnation of them in the near-ish future.

The sword is an Eldritch and the pistol is the same replica derringer we've been using in just about every shoot since the beginning of the blog. The photos were taken next to Cadbury's chocolate factory in Bournville ("Bourn" for the river and "ville" for the fashion for naming things in the French fashion).

To commission an ensemble in similar materials from the Mercenary, including coat, shirt, breeches, waistcoat and gaiters, would cost in the region of  £180. The coat by itself would cost in the region of £100.

More photos of the dashing asymmetrical naval uniform under the cut.

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