The 2012 Costume College theme was the Golden Age of Hollywood. Before I knew it, it was May, and I had no idea of what I wanted to do for the Gala.
From what I can tell, most costumers love designing costumes. They're constantly besieged by inspiration and CADD, just overflowing with ideas! Finishing them, whether it's tedious construction or losing interest, is the harder part.
That is so not me.
I happen to enjoy construction. Sure, I get discouraged, especially with fiddly stuff or something that just doesn't work; but in general, I love putting things together. As my mother puts it: Sewing starts with one big piece of fabric. You cut it all up into little pieces, and the goal is to get it back together into one piece. I like that process. I hate testing muslins, but I'm good at layout and cutting.
Inspiration is the hard part. I can't make it happen! The best way to prime the pump is to look at as many pictures as possible. I'm very visual, so the more pictures, the more likely I'll see something I can go with. Pinterest has been invaluable for this alone.
Pictures only work when I have some kind of idea, though. In mid-May I finally realized that this theme was the best opportunity to make an Old Hollywood "historical" costume. Like Gone with the Wind. Very 1860s inspired, but also definitely a product of the late 1930s.
I wanted the finished costume to be:
2. Have a big impact! (This is the Gala, after all - As Big As Possible is an unofficial theme.)
3. Recognizably inspired by Old Hollywood, whether a direct copy of a famous gown, or a semi-historical design clearly worn over vintage foundations with vintage hair.
I set up a Pinterest board, searched my memories for favorite old historical films, and finally went to some LiveJournal friends for advice. I thought about The Inspector General or The Pirate for crazy 1830s styles, which I've always been tempted toward. There's also The Court Jester with its brightly-colored princess-seamed 1950s interpretation of "medieval" dress.
And while I was actually typing, I got the best idea. Maid Marian, played by Olivia de Haviland, from the 1938 Robin Hood with Errol Flynn.
There are many other beautiful gowns in this film. Olivia has quite the wardrobe! The first one, called the "Forest Gown" in some places, is possibly the most recognizable and/or iconic. It's the audience's first view of Maid Marian, as well as what she's wearing when she meets Robin in Sherwood for the first time.
There are also plenty of reference pictures for it! That's pretty important when copying a costume. ;)
This closeup was one of the best references for color, fabric, and design.
This is unfortunately black and white, but it's the only clear full-length view I could find. I printed it out and referred to it constantly.
Another close shot, especially good for jewelry detail.
Next time: Shopping!