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For all the Knickers

Knickers.  As an Englishwoman it’s the word I use to describe my undies.

 I was born in Essex, grew up in Singapore and Denmark then I moved to the States in 10th grade. I went back to London to study Costume Design at Wimbledon School of Art in the early 2000’s where I learned my technical costume vocabulary. I have retained most of my English vocab, even if a lot of my accent has disappeared. So I call them knickers, even though you might call them lingerie, underwear, or even sexy loungewear. 

A more modern term for the knickers I sell is tap pants. Nowadays we think of all these styles as sexy underwear. However, that is not how they originated in the 1930s.

A Brief History of Women’s Underwear

The original 1920s and 30s underwear were known as step-ins. They were a full or half slip like garment with a band of fabric from the front to the back and women had to step into them. However, they weren’t cut as shorts, so they weren’t terribly comfortable.

1930’s tap pants weren’t underwear, they were a style of shorts used by dancers. They featured a wide 2-3” waistband that dipped at the center front and shorts cut either as a rectangle or curved that were so full they resembled a skirt. Dancers rehearsed in them because they allowed a full range of movement, while not showing off their actual underwear (well you never know with dancers!) 

There were also simpler versions – particularly going into wartime fabric shortages in the forties-  that were cut as rectangles with a gathered waist top. 

These are the styles that inspired what I have chosen to create for my shop. The simple pattern allows for more room to add trim and creative details, allowing me to create one-of-a-kind pieces for my one-of-kind customers.  

Montgomery Ward Spring Catalog from 1941

Meanwhile in America… 

For American costumers, knickers are 17th-18th century men’s pants worn with a waistcoat (vest) and 17th or 18th century coat. For an example, think of the films Marie Antoniette, or The Duchess. What they tell any modern American audience is that they are watching something happening sometime in the past.

Since knickers means underwear to any Englishwoman- you can see how this could get confusing for anyone vaguely transatlantic- we have to be bilingual in our costume vocab!

Knickers or Loungewear

Knickers, cami-knickers, pettipants, tap pants, undies, underwear, lingerie, or sexy loungewear. Whatever you want to call them, call them yours when you visit my shop.  

But let me tell you, anything you buy from me will fit you far better than if it was still 1940! 

When I was 13 I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer (my parents disputed, and wanted me to go into Science).  So my grandmother gifted me a booklet of notes from a tailoring class she had done in the 60s, a book, and an expandable mannequin. Thanks to Grannie,  27 years later, I’m a New York based Costume designer!

Black & white pictures of vintage lingerie. From “Everyday fashions of the thirties” as pictured in Sears catalog (Dover) 

The Fabric 

Most of the fabrics that I use for tap pants and camisoles (a.k.a. kinickers) are left over gems from New York theatre shows. Either:

  •  there wasn’t enough for an entire costume and so it was gifted to the costume shop employees
  • or I was designing a show and had tiny pieces of fabric that were too small for anything but knickers. 

I choose to pass on the savings to my customers. This means that my customers get vintage style loungewear made from silks and other luxurious fabrics, from the top high-end New York fabric stores- without paying the price. 

The Secret from WWII: Sew and Save

Sew and Save vintage sewing book by Joanna Chase of the Daily Mail.

This book is the book my Welsh Grandmother gave me all those years ago!

 It is unique because it was a guide for the average woman to make her clothes last longer when it was hard to find and afford new pieces. (Sound familiar?) There are techniques for darning, mending, and recycling old clothes into new pieces such as slips, undies and linings. Written in the 1940s the patterns were made to salvage every last scrap of fabric during silk shortages in WWII. 

Waste not, want not.

And now you know my secret weapon. To make the full use of the luxurious remnants, I use patterns adapted from Sew and Save. 

I create the largest pair of tap pants or camisoles I can with the fabric I have to create the vintage inspired loungewear you’ll find in my store 

Women in all shapes and sizes deserve fabulous and sexy loungewear

These are one-off pieces. I am passionate as a designer about making something precious and beautiful. If there is something you love that isn’t in your size, or you wish was a little different, let’s talk! I have the freedom to create something entirely unique just for you.

  • Decorated in specially sourced trims and laces each and every time.
  • Tailored down if you need it smaller. 
  • Or if you need it bigger I will source similar fabric and create you your own custom pair of tap pants, camisole, or both! 

Check out the store for details.

If you are ready to feel beautiful, come pick out your one-of -a-kind piece before someone else does. 

Close up shots of the detail on the simple, yet classic, Maliene tap pant.

As a New York based costume designer, it is my job to make performers feel amazing and comfortable in their bodies on stage. You would never want an ill-fitting garment to make the performer feel uncomfortable in any way. The amount of times I have fit a plus size actress that has thanked me profusely for taking the time to make sure a garment fits them and they feel confident in it, is, frankly, too many. I’m passionate about making sure they leave feeling seen and supported. 

Why is it so hard for curvy women to get a good fit? 

Most mass-produced modern garments are graded up from a sample size. Which means the proportions are graded up versions of the ratios of a leaner woman. Simply put, they don’t account for curves!

Most larger women I know, myself included, have problems with the ratios of smaller women, with smaller frames. If I find something to fit my bum, it will be huge on my waist. I sew, so I can customize my clothes to fit me.  I’ve made a career out of providing a custom fit for every performer that walks into my fitting room, well before the pandemic that is. But not everyone is able to do this.

“ Rosalinde”, custom sexy tap pant and camisole set in a turquoise self print floral set with black chantilly and turquoise lace

[The “ Rosalinde”, custom sexy tap pant and camisole set in a turquoise self print floral set with black chantilly and turquoise lace]

The Difference with custom made.

1930’s vintage lingerie in peach satin and tan lace

 I  know that the “ratios” change the larger the size. So rather than have one plus size tap pants or camisole pattern that I have graded up, I found an army of beautiful curvy women in all shapes and sizes to be a sample model for every size of sexy custom loungewear I sell.

Is this more costly? Absolutely. It’s worth it to me, to know that everyone who purchases vintage style custom lingerie from me, will feel as vavavoom and as stunningly confident in her body as those early pin-up models.

If you would like a piece of custom vintage style loungewear, this is the place for you! I’m happy to tailor my unique pieces to fit your curves or I will create you something entirely new in a style of your choosing. Simply put, if you want to feel beautiful, I am here for you!

http://ClaireTownsendDesigns.com/shop

the “Maliene”
a classic sexy black satin and cream cut out lace custom tap pant

We are also proud to be part of Pixelwyck, an online Ren Faire through Gathertown, this Friday 26th February, 7-11pm

Come by & chat with me there!

The Maliene, modelled by Renee Berthelette

Telling Fairytales

Although I’ve been rather busy at my full-time job, I’ve tried to fit in some whimsical fun shoots revolving around fairytales- specially Disney- some of them recognizable (lots of people wanted their pictures taken with the Mermaid and Elsa) and using some as a inspiration point to jump off of (not many people connected Ursula with the gorgeous black dress). Thanks to Model Lillith Rose and Photographer JA Clarke.

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5 yards of snail snot, please

So every costume shop has it’s own particular names for certain fabrics, ‘satin from hell’ being one of my favorites to describe poly-satin, after an amazing/awful film called ‘The God of Cookery’ I got introduced in my first year as a costumer (thankyou Katrina). And now I’ve added to that list. ‘Snail snot’ is iridescent crystal organza.
But it also made me realize that a fabric guide might be a useful thing- especially as I am learning so many more of them while being sent out onto the streets of New York to buy, say 5 yards of gazaar. What’s gazaar?? See I knew this list would come in useful.
I’ve tried to group them in sections that are similar to each other, but for an alphabetical list, see here:

Brocade: A shuttle woven fabric, woven on a loom, with supplementary weft technique, meaning in additional to the structural weft and warp there is a non structural weft as well to give the appearance that the weave is embroidered on. The supplementary weft can often be seen flaring on the backside/ wrong side of the fabric.
Jacquard: A fabric where pattern is woven directly into the fabric, named after the  creator of the machine that made it, Joseph Marie Jacquard, who invented it in 1801- 1810. The Jacquard mechanism is attached to a loom and operated by a punched card system with selects individual warp threads. A variety of machines exist which exert control over 100,200, 400 or 600 card ends.*
Matelasse: A slightly spongy matte fabric, coming from the french word meaning ” quilted, padded or cushioned”, although there is no actual padding i the fabric, it is patterned in relief, looking like it is embossed.
Damask: A reversible figured fabric of silk, wool, or synthetic fibers, with a pattern formed by weaving. The name comes from the city of Damascus, a large production in the early middle ages as it was on the silk road. They are woven using one warp yarn and one weft yarn, usually with the pattern in the warp-faced satin weave and the ground in the weft-faced or sateen weave.

Faille: A heavier weight fabric with a slight sheen, generally made of silk, polyester or rayon, known for its horizontal ribbed texture.
Bengaline: A lighter weight fabric with a horizontal rib and a slight sheen. Traditionally it was made of a mix of silk and cotton- with the weft being cotton and the warp being silk. It was often used as a cheaper alternative to silk, as it still had the sheen of silk. The name comes from Bengal, in India. It has slightly wider ribs than faille, but not as wide as Ottoman.
Ottoman: a heavy weight fabric resembling faille, except with wider, rounder ribs than run the width of the fabric, can be made of silk, polyester or rayon. Traditionally it was made of a mix of silk and cotton- with the silk as the warp and cotton as the weft.

Gazaar/Gazar: a silk or wool plain weave fabric made with high twist double yarns woven a one, resulting in a twill like effect. It has a crisp hand and smooth texture. You can also get metallic versions, which are heavier than a Lame, and have the same twill like quality.
Twill: A medium to heavy weight fabric with a slight ribbed texture diagonally across the fabric. Can be made of silk, polyester, cotton.
Gabardine: A light weight wool, known for its twill texture on one side.

Charmeuse: A very fine satin, shiny on one side, matte crepe on the other, with a very fine hand. Generally made of silk, or polyester, and can also be found in 2 or 4 way stretch varieties.
Satin: Silk or Polyester that is shiny on one side, and matte on the other. This has a stiffer hand than crepe backed satin.
Duchess Satin: The heaviest and most luxurious weigh of satin. This can be single or double faced- shiny on one or both sides. Generally made of silk or polyester.
Sateen: A cotton or polyester fabric that has a sheen on one side.
Satin backed crepe: A heavier weight than charmeuse, and slightly more spongey, with a good hand. Generally made of silk, or polyester.

Habutai: Habutai and China Silk (Crepe de Chine) are both incredibly lightweight matte silk. Habutai often comes in basic white, cream and China Silk is often dyed.
Crepe: A matte spongey fabric made of silk, polyester or rayon, with a nice hand.
Noil:  Silk Noil or Raw Silk is nubby with a slight sheen. It is woven from very short fibres, called silk boils, and has slums and irregulars in the weaving adding to its texture. It has a softer hand than Matka, which is slightly stiffer.
Duppioni: A fine quality fabric, woven of silk, although polyester imitations are now available. The quality ranges from finely woven smooth fabric, to a slightly thicker more nubby fabric, often depending on where the silk is woven. Dupponi is also often woven with different color weft and warp threads. In the UK it is called Dupion. Shantung is a type of Dupponi woven in China, it is also woven in Italy.
Matka: beautifully and often intensely dyed woven silk, generally with a  handwoven quality. Matka is an Indian term for rough hand loom silk woven out of very thick yarns spun out of pierced cocoon in the weft and organzine in the warp. It’s woven from the short ends of Mulberry silkworms and spun from hand without removing the gum, leaving slubs and irregularities, which add to the texture.*

Milleskin: Lighter weight spandex in shiny of matte options
Moleskin: Mid weight spandex in shiny or matte options. Note to be confused with Moleskin- a soft adhesive backed felt for use in shoes to prevent rubbing.
Jumbo: The heaviest weight spandex- comes in shiny or matte options.
Jersey: A lightweight cotton or polyester knit with a lot of stretch.
Knit: A stretch fabric, made from cotton,wool and recently bamboo, combined with elastane
Ponte: The heaviest weight cotton jersey.

Muslin: an undyed cotton fabric used for mocking up garments. In the UK this is a loosely woven undyed cotton often used for straining when making jams, known as Cheesecloth in the US.
Cheesecloth: loosely woven undyed cotton often used for straining when making jams.
Calico: Cotton prints often used for quilting. In the UK this is an undyed cotton fabric used for mocking up garments, known in the US as muslin.
Swiss Dot: A lightweight cotton fabric that has nubs of cotton to create a dot pattern.
Voile: lightest weight cotton, generally a little on the transparent side. Made the same way as a batiste, except finished with acid for extra transparency.
Batiste: the next lightest weight of cotton, a little less on the transparent side. Can also be made of polyester. Very soft.
Lawn: A plain weave fabric, originally made of linen, but now mostly cotton. It is crisper than voile or batiste, but not as crisp as organdie. The name comes from ‘Laon’, a city in France that produced large quantities of linen lawn.
Poplin: Heavy weight cotton that has a diagonally corded surface.
Broadcloth: Medium weight cotton
Denim: A heavy cotton twill fabric, usually blue. The term comes from 17th century France. Serge de Nimes, was a kind of serge from the manufacturing town of Nimes.
Duck: A heavy weight 100% cotton that feels like flannel on one side, used for blacks (black out curtains).
Coutil: Corset making fabric, known for not stretching. It can be made of cotton, often with a herringbone woven pattern,or a cotton-viscose blend brocade or satin. English Coutil has a heavier starched finish and a shinier look. Can be purchased at Richard the Thread, or Farthingales.
Canvas: Heaviest weight cotton, known for not stretching.

Pongee: a plain woven, thin, fabric with a rough weave effect, that is quite spongey in texture. Originally made from threads of raw silk and now cotton.
Pique: a heavy weight fabric, typically white cotton, woven in a strongly ribbed, or geometric design, that is slightly raised. This is commonly used for men’s formal wear white bow ties and vests.
Seersucker: a printed or plain fabric, made of cotton or polyester that has a surface consisting of puckered and flat sections, typically in a striped pattern.
Gingham: a small checked fabric, normally in white and one other colour. Typically made of cotton, or polyester.
Flannel: a medium weight, soft woven fabric typically made of wool or cotton and slightly milled and raised.
Madras: a strong, fine-textured cotton fabric, typically looking like a square patchwork of colorful stripes and checks.
Chintz: a  glazed calico initially imported from India, printed with designs featuring flowers and other patterns in different colours, typically on a light plain background.

Linen: cloth woven from flax
Chambray: A linen finished cloth with a white weft and a colored warp.
Cambric: a lightweight closely woven linen or cotton fabric

Chiffon: lightest weight transparent fabric, generally made of silk or polyester. You can get a stretch version of this, woven with elastane.
Georgette: slightly heavier weight transparent fabric, which has a slight grainy texture, generally made of silk or polyester.
Organza: A stiff sheer fabric, which can be made of silk, silk and wire, or polyester.  Types of organza also include Crystal Organza- a sparkly sheer stiff polyester, and ‘Snail Snot’- organza with a crystal AB iridescent quality 🙂
Organdie/ Organdy: A stiff sheer fabric, made of cotton.

Lace: patterned openwork. There are many different varieties of lace, mostly derived from the place of origin i.e. Chantilly Lace from France, Battenburg Lace from Germany.
Taffeta: a crisp handed finely woven fabric of  a light  (Tissue Taffeta) to medium weight that has a sheen on both sides, and can be made of silk or polyester. The name comes from from the Latin Taffata- based on the Persian word tartan meaning ‘to shine’.
Lame: A fabric woven from ribbons of metallic yarns. It comes of a variety of weights, with tissue lame being the lightest weight, and having a slightly stiff hand.

Tulle: A small hexagonal net, made of silk,which is the softest, or polyester.
Net: A large hexagonal net

Tweed: A rough- surfaced woolen cloth, normally of mixed flecked colors, originally produced in Scotland. The word comes from the name Tweed, which is a river in Scotland.
Tartan: a woolen cloth woven in one of the several patterns of a plaid, especially of a design associated with a particular scottish clan.
Plaid: a checkered or tartan twilled cloth, made of wool, cotton, polyester. The word comes from the Scottish Gaelic ‘plaid’ which literally means blanket.
Sharkskin: A worsted fabric, with a smooth finish, with the weft and warp of different colours, producing a two-tone quality. Traditionally it was made of a combination of wool, silk and mohair, although a synthetic version has been made of rayon and acetate which are basket-woven together. The wikipedia article on the history of Sharkskin, which is quite interesting, can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharkskin

Velvet: A heavier fabric with soft pile on one side. Can be made of silk, cotton, polyester or rayon.
Chenille: A tufted velvet-like loose weave fabric, generally synthetic. Chenille literally means ‘hairy caterpillar’ in French.

Suede: lamb (the bigger) or pig are normally sold by the skin.
Chamois: a type of super soft and pliable leather now made from sheepskin or lambskin.
Ultra suede: A synthetic version of suede
Leather: cow (the biggest, and thickest), lamb, pig are all sold by the skin.
Pleather: A synthetic version of leather

Neoprene: wet suit fabric, a synthetic polymer resembling rubber, which comes of weights in mm ranging from 3mm to 11mm, and can be plain or with a coloured or printed skin on one or both sides

Lambs Wool:  A soft undyed loose weave wool used for padding. In the UK this is known as bump. It is often used for padding.
Burlap: sack material, a loose woven undyed fabric from jute, hemp or similar fibres.
Buckram: A very stiff structured fabric, starched and used for millinery and other structured forms.

These are techniques/patterns are so commonly used on/in fabrics that often the fabric is called by the technique or pattern itself.

Burnout: A technique used on fabric that is composed of a natural pile on a synthetic base – for example silk velvet on a sheer rayon backing- that has been printed with a devorant/ devore paste containing the chemical Sodium Bisulphate and then heated so that the printed design burns,  can then be wet and scrubbed off, leaving an inverse design of pile on a transparent base. This can also be done on any fabric with a natural fibre layer over a synthetic base. In the U.K this technique is called Devore- from the French to devour.

See here for more info:

http://www.georgeweil.com/fact_file/Devore.aspx
Moire: A technique applied to fabric- commonly faille or taffeta to produce a water- like effect, caused by the finishing technique known as calendaring, in which the fabric is folded in half and passes through rollers at high temperatures  and pressures.  Moire effects can are also achieved by varying weft and warp tensions or running the fabric through engraved copper rollers.
Herringbone: an arrangement or design consisting of columns of short parallel lines, with all the lines in one column sloping one way and all the lines in the next column sloping the other way so as to resemble the bones in a fish, used generally to describe the pattern on a wool.

Please note in the UK “iridescent”, in regards to fabric, often means the weft and warp are different colors, in the US it often refers to the crystal AB shimmer quality of a fabric.
“Two-tone” is the US term for the British term “iridescent”
So in the UK you can get iridescent dupions, while in the US you get two-toned ones 🙂

* taken from http://www.texeresilk.com
Additional resources:
This guide was compiled over a weekend, for the most extensive textile dictionary ever, complied over 5 years, see
http://vintagefashionguild.org/fabric-resource-guide-terms-of-use
Also if I’m missing anything you feel should be on this list, feel free to let me know.

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Alls Well Ends Well opened this week at Point Fermin in San Pedro. It’s been an unusual show- 11 actors doing a Shakespeare- probably the smallest cast I’ve ever worked with on a Shakespeare- but the concept was simple- a traveling troupe coming to town in their circus-like wagons and putting on a show. It’s a concept that works well, and within the confines of our budget worked effectively. Their are onstage changes from one character to another, the actors and the audience playing acknowledging and playing with this idea, rather than making it a limitation.  In fact there are probably more costumes in order to make this work- but it ended well, and funnily. So funny- the show is fantastic.

It was also fun for me to design, I love tracing the origins of tales- and I realized early on this was fairytale inspired. I had thought the story came from an Italian Fairytale written in the Pentamarone by Giambattista Basile (1634) and so I had tracked down the Pentamarone in Stanford Library, to find the original text only to realize he had actually borrowed the story from William Painter’s collection of tales Palace of Pleasure, written in 1556, which also inspired Romeo and Juilet. The combination of Fairytale and Commedia del’arte, researching traveling troupes and dancers at the time, make for a nice foundation on which to design.

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All’s Well that Ends Well, Point Fermin Park, San Pedro through June 28th.

See http://www.shakespearebythesea.org/wp/calendar/ for more dates around LA until August 10th.

 

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Alls Well

Directed by Patrick Vest

Set design by Aaron Jackson

Costume design by Claire Townsend

So surprisingly, this is the first time, I’m designing Elizabethan Shakespeare. I’ve done a 40’s Twelfth Night, a Regency Two Gents, and an Arizonian, turn of the century As You Like It, but nothing’s been pure period (well Ok, 2 Caesars’– entirely different period). So here I am, and talking to the actors the other day, I realized my terminology is rather pitiful. So I went searching on the internet to get a grip on my words, and I couldn’t find a glossary of  Elizabethan Fashion Terms. So I made one instead, with a little help from www.tudorshoppe.com.

WOMENS

Bodice-   a tight-fitting, sleeveless garment covering the torso. The bodice is most often stiffened with boning and cross-laced, worn over a blouse or chemise. Commonly front-laced in peasant dress and side-laced or back-laced for the upper classes.

Busk – The central large stiffening piece of a corset. Usually made of whale bone but sometimes ivory. Lower classes used wood. Often ornately carved and ornamented. Inserted in the central casing of the ‘bodies’ and tied in place by ‘busk points’ or laces. Busk points were often given to lovers, who wore them around their wrists.

Taken from: http://www.renaissancetailor.com/research_vocabulary.htm

a great source for renaissance tailoring vocabulary

Chemise-   the basic foundation garment of all women’s renaissance clothing; a large, full-sleeved blouse with either a high or low neckline.

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from here

Corset–  a close-fitting undergarment meant to enclose the torso and provide shape and support to the body. Stiffened with stays made of bone or steel and worn laced up, most often in the back. There are so many corsetry sites- but a friend used to work for here http://www.darkgarden.com and they are amazing.ma001corset

from http://www.neheleniapatterns.com/english/ma001.html

Farthingale– your petticoat traditionally built of whalebone or cane hoops.

There’s a great tutorial here-  http://www.renaissancetailor.com/demos_farthingale.htm

or they can be bought inexpensively here:

this one is made with steel boning, although wire (or rubber tubing for flexibilty) can also be used.

There’s a great pattern for a spanish farthingale in the Tudor Tailor, an amazing tailoring book for the period.

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Forepart-  an underskirt which shows beneath the opening in the overskirt. In upper class garments, it is often made of a sumptuous fabric and highly trimmed and jeweled.

Guard-   a wide band of less expensive fabric which could be added to over and underskirts to take the wear of weather, dirt, and dragging on the ground. These could be removed and replaced when soiled or worn out, preserving the more expensive skirts.

Kirtle-   a woman’s loose gown, popularized in the middle ages. Though unfashionable, it was often worn in the Elizabethan period beneath a Spanish Surcote for a lady’s comfort while at home or in her own chambers. Kirtle can also be an interchangeable term for a skirt.

Night Rail-   a loose garment, similiar to a chemise, which was worn as a nightgown.

Partlet– a detachable collar/yoke to cover from the top of the dress to the neck.

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There’s a great pattern here

Supportasse/ Rebartos– wire supports, that are higher in the back to support your ruff. Supportasse’ are literally just the understructure- a proper-upper; where as Rebartos seem to be more like a wired gauze square collar- and can be worn without a ruff.

There are instructions on making a rebarto ( they call it a wired ruff) here:

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Farthingales is a good source for all thing corsetry as well.

Ruffs– neck collars worn around the neck to frame the head, or worn around the wrists They were made of heavily starched linens of different grades, lawn, holland, and cabrick. They were speciality tools- ironing rods, if you will, to create the curves of the ruff, and they were often pinned, still.  The best site I’ve found on the history of ruffs is here:

http://www.noblesandcourtiers.org/elizabethan-ruffs.htm

Buy them here:

http://www.verymerryseamstress.com/ruff.htm

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If you making them yourself 3-4″ horsehair is often the easiest as doesn’t require the starching, and you can overlay linen or lace onto it to achieve the effect you want. You can also pleat it flat, rather than onto a 1″ band around the neck, which is faster and as the horsehair springs out creates the same look, although it’s not the period way of creating them.

Tippet-  A short, cape-like garment which covers the neck and shoulders, quite possibly lined with fur.

Whisk/ Wisk– Gauze Wings- cut in 2 semi-circles to frame the face.  Made of gauze covered

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There’s a good introduction to them here:

http://www.verymerryseamstress.com/elizabethanwhisks.html

The battle decorated

So I’ve been doing some research on armour for a show I’m doing- a Shakespeare, so set in Renaissance France and Italy, and although we’ve agreed the costumes will be of a Elizabethan travelling troupe, I always feel like I should look at the clothing of country where the show is set for reference- so I’ve been researching European armour.

The Met in NY has an amazing site, packed with infomation on it’s artifacts, which is where I came across the name of armour maker in Italy, where the most beautiful and creative decorated armour was made and so I thought I’d share.

This armour was all made by Filippo Negroli, and his family.

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Note the circles are all eyeballs.

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Filippo and Francesco Negroli Helmet (Burgonet) of Emperor Charles V, 1545 Patrimonio Nacional, Real Armería, Madrid

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Burgonet
Circa 1532–35
Made by Filippo Negroli
Milan, Italy

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Negroli, Filippo, Francesco, Morion,together with the buckler 30-01-02/61 a present to Emperor Karl V from his brother Ferdinand,1541.

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Embossed and partly gilt steel. Filippo Negroli (1510-1579). Italian (Milan), dated 1530-1535.

And the English? Well they were doing this:

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From the Royal Armouries, Leeds, 1429

Although the armoury at Greenwich seemed to fair better, doing amazing full suits like

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The Greenwich armoury was the most famous in England, and instead of relief work, the decoration was mostly in patterns on the armour, by treating the steel to create different colours and guilding.

There were 3 ways to treat the steel- blueing, browning and russeting. Blueing gave the steel a rich blue-black appearance, browning a deep-brown and russeting a red or dark purple hue. The steel would be treated with a base colour and then strips of differently treated steels would be laid across to create different patterns.

All images from

http://dostoyevsky.livejournal.com/1629238.html

http://hard-sophoclean-light.tumblr.com/post/44969333147/tigrismedve-filippo-negroli-parade-helmet-of

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/32.130.6

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwich_armour

Pride (and prejudice)

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Pride and Prejudice goes up this week at Cypress Community College, and although I love the regency period it’s been hard to design a show whose story is so close to peoples hearts.  I don’t feel like my costumes quite do the novel justice and this feeling is hard to shake, partially due to financial constrictions, and partly due to knowing a good part of the show would have to simplified in order to be built by students. Which they did very well- thankfully because without them, we literally would not have been able to afford the costume the show.

I don’t like being conventional- and so the idea of 5 girls in pretty white dresses was something I initially rebelled against. Instead I created mood boards looking at French costume of the period- bright coloured solid dresses with Kashmiri shawls and fabrics imported from Indian. Sadly, the trim needed to make this reference apparent to the audience was my first budget cut. Instead we mined the schools resources of vintage lace and trimmed aprons and dresses in beautiful lace, which in a way brought the show closer to it’s English origins.

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The script was a pared down version of the novel – simplified to the point of stylized- and the set designer chose modern bare bones- wooden platforms and bright green curtains, that although was not the route I would have taken, was something I had to keep in mind when designing.  In the end, I  strived to make the girls simple and real, rather than overtly pretty. It’s the props, by the fabulous Gretchen Morales, that end up really making the world believable and the beautiful lighting, by Crystal Schoomp, that marries together the modern touches and period looks.

Netherfield

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There’s still some gorgeous frocks in the show- Caroline Bingly, Georgianna and Jane’s final dress are beautiful and where I indulged. I also found out I can do beautiful in 4 hours- when I had to build a new dress overnight for our Jane. But you’ll have to come see the show to see those 🙂 Ok- fine- I’ll give you one.

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Pride and Prejudice opens Friday at Cypress College.

Cypress College, 9200 Valley View St, Cypress, CA 90630

http://www.cypresscollegetheateranddance.com/pride-and-prejudice.html

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Lucia Di Lammermoor was an opera I designed in early February at West Bay Opera, in Palo Alto. We had a very decent budget and I was able to commission pieces to be build, which was just amazing. These are the designs, research and also photos of what those designs turned into.

The opera runs until February 24th at West Bay Opera, is directed by the wonderful David Ostwald, with Scenic Design by Jean- Francois Revon… for more info:

http://www.wboopera.org


Enrico and Raymundo. Hunting

Enrico and Raymundo I i- The Forest.

CHM. hunting

Jacobite

 

 

 

 

CHM Hunting Eguardo I i-The Forest. Same as Wedding- except no lace jabot, shirt sleeves rolled up, muddied stockings.


Eguardo. Well.

Eguardo I ii

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Scottish Lord- the style of Doublet for Eguardo- to be made of slate blue leather with silver stud trim.

 

 

 

 

Lucia. Well

Lucia I ii. Fountain/Garden

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Research it came from: Women’s hunting wear 1670s 1690s.

 

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Lucia- Study II i

The study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucia. Wedding2

Lucia Wedding II ii- Ballroom.

Research below. 
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NPG 1616; Queen Anne by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt

Auturo

 Arturo II ii- Ballroom- browns, bronzes

Normando Wedding

Normando II ii- Ballroom.


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CHF WeddingCHF- Wedding II ii. Add Cloaks at III i. With Cloaks for III ii- Graveyard

Lucia. Mad

Lucia III i- Mad- white chiffon with gold organza flowers.