The character Elisa is depicted as being a timid princess, that is saintly, pure of heart and beautiful at the beginning of the story but throughout the story she develops into a selfless and strong character whos love and devotion to her brothers almost gets her killed. Elisa encounters many hardships throughout her travels to save her brother the first of them being by her new step mother the evil Queen. The story comments that the Queen felt spiteful and full of hatred toward her.
(Anderson, 1838) In this scene Elisa finally returns to the palace after being banished by the Queen and she sees how beautiful she has become and instantly starts thinking of ways to curse Elisa. Throughout the story the theme of longing is seen throughout. Elisa longs to be with her brothers again, the Queen desires to be the prettiest in the Kingdom and The Old king wants nothing more than to please his new Queen. The design Process for Elisa involved looking at a mixture of royal gowns and placid colours to match her royal status and her standing within her family.
From researching stately homes, the detailed ceiling work is what inspired many of the textiles shape in the sampling process. Historical authenticity was key to creating a realistic world for the characters to come alive in so researching who lived in the stately homes and researching their portraits helped to create an authentic dress shape for Elisa.
The Eleven princess are the Kings pride and joy before the Evil Queen arrives.
They are portrayed as the perfect princes by being intelligent, brave and strong. They are the image of perfect children. You could tell at a glance how princely they were. (Anderson, 1838). The theme of longing is apparent with the princes as they are willing to sacrifice their lives time and again in order for their sister to save them. The princes desire to live a normal life is comparable to the historical links of the French Revolution. The princes have never done anything wrong, yet they keep getting punished. First they are banished from the kingdom after being cursed into birds. Fly out into the world and make your own living,” the wicked Queen told them. “Fly away like big birds without a voice.” (Anderson, 1838). Then they have to make the exhausting trip to a safe new land, and lastly they have to prove to the king that their sister is innocent. These gruelling battles they must overcome is what inspired the design process to go down a military route. Having the Princes in military costumes also keeps them uniformed to signify that they are one. The Evil Queen
The Evil Queen is this fairy tales classic wicked step mother. She is portrayed as being spiteful, jealous and vengeful. The Queen wants rid of the kings children so does everything within her power to do so. And before long she had made the King believe so many falsehoods about the poor Princes that he took no further interest in them. (Anderson, 1838) Before long she has succeeded with her plan and banishes all the children from the palace. This character has many similarities to Marie Antoinette, so researching her and her way of life was key to designing a malevolent costume. I wanted the Queens outlandish ways to be expressed through the shape of her costume. Her costume will be excessive in size and detail compared to Elisa and this is to show the difference between the two characters.
The Old King doesnt get mentioned often in the story which is why I have perceived him as being a dull, meek and easily manipulated king. The King has just married his new wife and she has already convinced him to get rid of his children. Because of all these traits his colour palette is made up of neutral colours. As the king is old researching early 18th century fashion was key to distinguish his age in comparison to the other characters. As he is the king his costume has to be grand so the gold work within stately home interiors was one of the main inspiration for his costume. But to relate back to one of the stories themes the bird element was also researched. Brown owls have the most similarities with the kings colour pallet so they were incorporated into his costume design. To see the rest of the character profiles, go to Appendices
Before beginning the design process research was conducted in order to figure out what performance area the costumes should be designed for. The costume had to be historically made with modern features to it to appeal to a younger audience so, after reading this line in the Hollywood and History book (Edwards, 1998 P.16) While much energy has been devoted to creating authentic-looking costumes in period films, only occasionally do moviemakers attempt historically accurate hairstyles, and they almost never use authentic makeup I decided to design for film. As the chosen period is 18th century, research began by looking at fashion plates and portraits to determine when in the 18th century the costumes would be based on. After looking at many portraits the decade within the 18th century that was most fitting for the Wild Swans was the late 1770s and early 1780s. During this period Marie Antoinette and Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire were fashion icons so the female characters costumes were inspired by many of the clothing styles they wore. The male characters took inspiration from portraits of men in high society. For the Old king I looked at portraits from earlier in the century so that he and his costume would look older than the rest of the cast. Louis XV of France also known as Louis the beloved was the main influence for the Old kings costume. When Louis XV took the throne in 1715 the fashion in France began to evolve by transitioning from baroque to rococo. Fashion took a turn to a lighter, more frivolous style which featured lots of frills bows and lower cut garments. The clothes a person wore heavily influenced the country you were from and as the young king in the Wild Swans is from a different country I used this fashion style as a way to differentiate him being from a distant land.
Once the decade was decided I re-read the book and made a mind map with key points in the story to decide what themes would be best suited for the costume designs. As the title of the book is The Wild Swans I decided it would be fitting to have a bird theme throughout the costumes. When looking at the shapes of swans their wings resembled the shapes featured within 18th century interiors. That is how the second theme was chosen.
For the roughs a single silhouette template was created for each character as the shape of 18th century fashion was so definite that I couldnt change the shape in anyway without making it historically inaccurate. This worked well for myself as it meant that the main focus was not on the shape of the costume but rather the colours and textiles that would be on it. Once all the roughs had been completed, I picked my favourite aspects for each character and developed them further. Working on a larger scale also meant that more details could be added to the drawings. Whilst working on the developments, looking back to my research was important in order for me to get the shapes correct and make sure it was linking to my themes.
After the development stage had finished it was onto the final designs for each character. For the female characters I knew how I wanted them to look so finishing their finals was very quick. The characters I did struggle with were the eleven princes and the Archbishop. I believe I found it a challenge to draw these characters as I did not do enough research into each of their themes. If I was to begin researching again I would make sure each character had a more in-depth body of research for each aspect of the costume. I believe this would have made the design and textiles process more straightforward.
As Elisa is the chosen character I decided to make for, most of my time was spent focusing on her designs. This is clear to see when compared with the amount of work done for the other characters. As Elisa is the character I will be making for I think the amount of time spent doing her designs was very important so that every detail found in the research process could be worked into her costume design. Spending equal amounts of time on the other characters would have helped with the time management side of the design process. The characters that I struggled with didnt have much time spent on them and that is evident in my work.
As the story will be set in the late half of the 18th century researching fashion and the people of high society at this time was key to creating an authentic shape and style for a set of costumes for both male and female characters. I found the best way to see how people dressed was to look at portraits. In the 18th century, Englands upper classes entered a new era of prosperity. No longer the preserve of royalty, commissioned portraits of oneself or ones ancestors became a coveted symbol of wealth and status. (Christies, 2016)
Not only did having a portrait drawn show your wealth but it was a chance for the women in high society to show off the latest fashion trends.
A popular form of portraits were miniatures. They were very popular with the monarchy when they first came around in 14th century. As they were small the monarchy was able to personally give them to people during ceremonies as a sign of the monarchys favour. With wealth growing in the 18th century Miniature portraits were a very popular way for people to have their portraits taken. As the portraits were pocket sized they were often given as secret gifts to lovers.
Thomas Gainsborough was a very popular artist in the late half of the 18th century. He was even considered as one of the best portrait artists alongside his rival Sir Joshua Reynolds. Gainsboroughs style was quick, and his use of a light palette and soft stokes gave his work a mature appearance. He was one of the main artist I looked at when researching.
For the textiles side of the project I took two different approaches to researching what to do and where to get inspiration. One way was looking at historic costumes in books and online exhibits of clothes worn in the 18th century to get an idea of the traditional textiles used in their clothes. The other way was looking at couture designers that have taken inspiration from fairy tales and looking at designers that use feathers in their collections to add movement and texture to their clothes. Researching the couture designers methods of embroidery helped to give my samples the modern twist the costume needed to appeal to a modern audience.
The books that influence the historic shape of the textiles samples were The Victoria & Albert Museum’s textile collection, Dangerous liaisons: fashion and furniture in the eighteenth century and Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe 1715-1789. These books show either what people wore or close ups of the clothes which gave me a better understanding of what materials to use when sampling. Looking at the clothes up close also gave me an understanding of how the textiles on the clothes would affect the movement on the dress and where in society that person was placed. The dress that contain lots of embroidery were often the dresses of Duchesses or ladies from a wealthy family.
After finding research on traditional textiles method I then began to research current designers that use feathers in their clothes. This is so the textile can tie back to the bird theme and the use of feather will make the costumes seem more enchanted and remind the audience that the Wild Swans is a fairy-tale. Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saabs signature style is to use rich fabrics covered in crystals, feather and embroidery which gives his clothes a magical aspect. His clothes are elegant and feminine and this is how Elisa is to be portrayed. Saabs Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2018 collection was the main inspiration for the textiles for the character Elisa. Feathers have many symbolic meanings and one of them being a symbol of travel. The traveling doesnt just mean physically but with the mind and spirit. Elisa travels to a new land to save her brothers but she also travels within herself and becomes a stronger and braver woman. So having a feather featured in her costume was important to symbolize all the traveling she does.
The Rococo style was inspired by the earlier style Baroque. Like Baroque Rococo was opulent with extravagant patterns made from the finest materials. The rococo style was most popular between 1720 and 1789 and was very popular amongst the French. During this period France was divided between the noble society and the penny-less peasant. The aristocrats were doing very well for themselves and began to obsess over their wealth and only wanted to have the finer things in life. The women wore light and pastel colours as a sign that they didnt work. The designs on their clothes were often organic motifs that were asymmetrical and often these motifs covered everything from dresses to wallpaper. The Baroque fashion style had been proper and rigid whereas the rococo style was looser and each woman adapted it to her own style. Women also began to publicly where this style outside of their estates in order to show off the newest fashion trends.
Many current fashion designers have taken inspiration from the Rococo style and have adapted to suit modern clothes. Chanels 2013 resort show took inspiration from Versailles in a Socialist France. The show is a tribute to Frances golden age in fashion. Here, formal eighteenth-century details, like panniers and fichus, were re-created in casual twenty-first-century fabricschambray, tech denims, even plasticsdressed up with frothy lace ruffles and cuffs, and dressed down with gold platform trainers and short shorts. (T.Blanks 2012)
Another fashion designer inspired by the Rococo style is Meadham Kirchoff. Their spring 2012 ready to wear collection featured lots of the elements that made the rococo style so famous. The outfits were ornate, covered in frills and very excessively covered in embroidery and prints.
These outfits have elements of the rococo style throughout them. The dress coat on the left feature extravagant gold patterns and the one piece on the right contains lots of frill in a soft colour palette.
As Textiles is the pathway I choose, only one costume will be made. As said before that costume will be for Elisa. The construction of Elisa is still on going and is currently at the end of the toile process. The first step was to draw the working drawings for the costume so that relevant pattern books could be chosen. As the corset is the first thing that is put on that was the first garment to be drafted. The pattern book used was Period costume for stage & screen book by Jean Hunnisett. As the model is very petit the pattern had to be alter considerable. J. Hunnisetts book was also used to draft the pocket hoops. With the undergarments drafted and made, it was onto the next layer of the costume which was the bodice. I used the pattern book again for the bodice but the shape wasnt sitting on the stand well so, instead the bodice was drafted on the stand for a closer fit. Once this had been done I created a pattern and tidied up the edges. Next was the over skirt. For this I didnt use a pattern book instead looked at online exhibition to see the back of 18th century skirts. I started with a large piece of calico that was a similar weight to the fabric I intend on using then I started to drape the fabric on the mannequin to see how it fell and how big the pleats would have to be. After a few different variations the desired shape was made. To keep the weight of the skirt to a minimum and to reduce cost the underskirt will not be a full skirt but rather a panel that ties to the side seams of the overskirt. This will allow me to spend more time focused on the textiles side of the project.