Sunday, 13 January 2013

EMP Ballet Plate Tutu Design

The Sleeping Beauty

Last term/unit Melissa Burton designed the six fairies from the ballet version of Sleeping Beauty plus their male counterparts- I was always aware that this is what we would be constructing this term. Her inspirations come from the pre-raphelite colour palette and lines and was inspired by pre-raphelite paintings of the Sleeping Beauty by Edward burn Jones:

Here is another pre-raphelite painting of sleeping Beauty:

Lilas- Fairy Royalty

Melissa had six designs to choose from, each with a different colour palette and shape, so each had their own distinct challenge.
As myself and my colleague had elected very early on to continue with ballet into EMP, we were both able to see how Melissa's designs were developing, before they were finished, so to be honest I already had a favourite. 

Lilac fairy(or Lilas, as she is called), always appealed to me as head of the fairies, in most depictions of Sleeping Beauty ballet's I have seen, she is always slightly more distinctive, or grander (she has her own attendants) and she is present throughout the whole ballet. I really want to push myself in this unit and I felt as though I wanted to take on the challenge that the *probably* more embellished design will give me.
I am also a big fan of the colour lilac, and purple shades in general, and I felt this was an important factor as well. I have learnt that you can definitely get sick of the sight of a particular colour quite quickly in costuming, and it's good to work with varying colours as it always feels fresh.

I will be making the full tutu as well as painting tights and pointe shoes and we, as a group are very much hoping to have real ballerinas to fit and wear these costumes for a photoshoot, with the ultimate of having them actually perform a small piece from the ballet in the costumes. But that is very much only in the pipeline at the moment rather than an actual reality, and it is also something that Melissa, as supervisor is responsible for organising. Until then I will keep my fingers crossed.
There was the option to make the matching male costume as well, but here I have decided to complete the corset project instead with my time, as, for me, I feel I would get more out of that experience.

Here are the designs for both male and female:

Thinking About the Design

The first thing we did was all get together and have a look at our individual designs and start to talk about how we are all going to make this a cohesive collective- which certainly has its own challenges.

Here is a rough write up of all the points considered to help create the signature of the costumes:

  • All bodices to have a total of 18 panels-9 per side.
  • Designs will be updated by Melissa so that the top design lines are all matching- we went further to say that when we map the pattern on the stand and drape, that we all need to make sure they are as similar as possible(think back to SDP design lines, they were all very different)
  • Soft, delicate and feminine- decoration is to be made, not just braid stuck on.
  • All tutu bases will be the same- ivory net
  • Gold layer of chiffon/ plate layer of organza.
  • Decoration will be in your colour, plus golds and creams- will probably all be using the same gold beads to decorate.
  • Measurement will be set for the distance from plate to net on the tut skirt, so they all match(like a border).
  • Small delicate beads, built up to create texture, no large bead/decoration, maybe minimum hot fix crystals, maybe none at all(!-much to my horror)
  • Will be buying propper dance tights and pointe shoes(i'm quite pleased by this) and painting into them as per design i.e stronger at the crutch and barely there by the time you get to the pointe shoes.
  • All tutu's to carry the vine decoration on the skirt and for all tutu's except lilac fairy, they will also now have same vines down one arm(same arm on each costume) supported by powernet.
  • Each person to create sample for the vine, but must work together to choose one way of doing it- once chosen and added to design, this design cant be changed or added to.
  • Your extra designs can be of your own making, remembering the above points.
  • Diaphanous layering and highlights in cream and gold.

Specific to Lilac fairy Design:

  • Head fairy- has extra 'guilding' i.e, more gold bordering/accents than the others
  • Keeping the original medieval sleeves
  • Lacing to be taken up higher to at least nipple height so it looks like 'real' lacing

Bringing in my past experience and some new ideas:

This was a good place to start and I felt I had a strong idea of what Melissa was tying to create with her designs. Interestingly enough I had sampled some lilac silks/brocades in London when I went at Christmas, looking at them again I could easily eliminate most of them for having the wrong kind of feel. I guess I could recognise straight away that the costume I had had in my head that I wanted to make; gold brocade bodice and lots of sparkle, was miles away from what Melissa was after.

But actually, that was fine. I really like the idea of creating some very artistic, soft and delicate decoration, I think it will make much more of a statement in the context of this unit. These costumes will all be viewed up close in the final exhibition, and the creative elements that have gone into making the decoration will be seen and recognised for their effort. IMHO, i'm not sure if they may be too delicate on a full stage at the back of the theater, but for what they are in their own context-perfect.

I also have some great ideas of how to create the vines- something that, yes, I saw use in a different way at the ROH but it has sparked an idea. I will be using unwound braided cord in shades of brown. As they unwind they stay wavy, then I plan to paint into them and add fabric flowers, crystals and bugle beads, I'm looking forward to sharing a sample on here!

This now has me thinking and I want to look at laser cutting flowers, such as the violet at briar rose and even looking at resin casting real dried flowers, as I really want to push the boundaries of making some artistic decoration.

Meeting take two:

After Melissa and I went on an impromptu shopping trip for beads and braids, we decided it would be a good idea to get together again and go through the fabric books at uni, before our trip to London the following Monday for fabric samples. This was a very good meeting and it meant that some really imprtant points came together and were clarified. Namely:

  • All skirts will have x number of tutu net layers in ivory.
  • Then a matching layer of gold tissue/organza-whatever is decided on.
  • The bodice fabric will all be plain and the same type of silk eg taffeta
  • No shiny satin's, and should not be 'shot' with an overpowering colour eg gold, as this will be seen under stage lights and blot out the real colour intended.
  • Melissa has a specific colour palette in mind, that matches the feel of the pre-raphelite. these are all earthly shades and are not too bright. All colours chosen must work together under this colour palette.

Problems-      We did come across a specific range of James Hare Handwoven Dupions in the exact colour range. We have all ordered the shades relevant to our designs. I am not personally a fan of handwoven dupion at all- I always feel as if when a costume contains this fabric, it looks as if the designer/maker could not be bothered to search out alternatives. I feel Mark may need persuading in this choice, I certainly did. But the colours are perfect for pre-raphelite and the slubs to give a naturalistic organic feel which really works with the theme, much better than any of my samples did.

There is a problem with this though:- Originally the skirt plate was meant to have a top layer of organza to match the shade of the bodice. With the beautiful mulled shades we are looking at, we will be unlikely to find a match for some or all of the designs, so we may have to look at alternatives. One suggestion was to carry the dupion onto the skirt, although I am not sure how that will look (might look too heavy and certainly not suitable for some of the designs) or possibly dying the organza to match the bodice, but again this may have varying degrees of success.

I would also really like to look at some silk/crushed silk velvet for my costume, as I feel this is one way I could incorporate the rich guilding and royalty of Lilas.

(painting shown again for colour ref)

Still lots of question marks at the moment, plus I need to plan out my workload, once we get our timetable from Mark. Tomorrow, we are off to London and I am interested to see what we all think.

Then we have planned to go and see the pre-raphelite Sleeping Beauty mural in Oxford the following week, as it is(for me at least) a really important part of understanding the essence of my design.

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