Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Ricepunk Buckle Cheongsam

The Buckle Cheongsam was rather more ambitious than the Ricepunk Wanderer outfit posted a few days ago, but the idea was simple: it takes design elements from the classical and rather iconic cheongsam (also known as a mandarin gown) and adds buckles to it.

The original mandarin gown was wide and loose-fitting, worn layered over many other garments. It had long sleeves and modestly concealed all contours of the body. The high slits originally came from ones designed to enable the wearer to ride. The sleek modern version which not a smudge of the original silhouette is said to be developed during the turn of the century in Shanghai (still known today to produce the best tailors in all of China). It's widely available today in numerous colours of brocades and varying degrees of garishness.

This buckled permutation of the cheongsam is made from emerald green faux silk brocade in a very oriental pattern - a choice that the Designer felt was a strange one since Chinese garments are classically red, but I thought a little more foreign influence on the colour scheme was a good idea at the time. The garment is lined and edged in a black stretch silk and fastened with square brass buckles.

There are a handful of "sexier" shots where the cheongsam is worn without the black linen Ku (褲). Also appearing are the brass beer goggles, an opium pipe from a joke shop (originally bought as a phys-rep for an unrelated live roleplay system), a derringer from Makai-larp and a rice hat.

The dragon lady undercurrent of these photos made them quite difficult to do for me. It's not that the stereotype still looms large in my life and that casting myself in the role distresses me, it's more that it's a lot to live up to and project. I'm not sure I look the part of the enigmatically deceitful and domineering dragoness. In rather stark contrast, the Ricepunk Wanderer was a pleasure to shoot and I was significantly more comfortable in the role.

To commission a similar garment from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £75-85.

More photos under the cut.

Prototype: Buckle Corset Top and Lace Gore Skirt

I'm afraid this woman doesn't have a gas mask on.

She does, however, have a basket-hilted 38" sabre by Mike Light of Light Armouries.

The Buckle Corset Top isn't a real boned corset. It's made in a soft chocolate brown faux suede. It fastens in front with large brass buckles. The skirt is made from a pale green faux silk taffeta with gores made from black lace. The skirt is unlined and very floaty.

The Designer wasn't exactly pleased with how his design turned out. The sketch first appeared in the Gas Mask Woman post and later in the steampunk designs poll (though it did not do nearly as well as the buckle dress). The soft suede doesn't work as well hoped and doesn't quite sit right. He also feels that the lace doesn't work as well as mesh or gauze would work.

We're contemplating another prototype. The corset top wasn't exactly a failure, but it would be much better with soft boning and possibly lacing down the back for more flexible sizing. The Designer feels strongly that the buckles should remain functional, but they don't actually work well as a means of customizing the size as they can get messy and not align in a nice straight row. We're also thinking of different colours and larger, more chunky and ornate buckles.

To commission a similar corset top and skirt with lace gores (with or without improvements) would cost around £70-80 from the Costume Mercenary.

More photos under the cut.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Ricepunk Traveller: Ru, Ku, Waistcoat

I'm hesitating again at the word Victoriental, because I really dislike the sound of it, but its specificity does apply in this case. The character in these shots does come across to me as an oriental traveller wandering through a Victorian steampunk world.

Instead of one garment that contains both Victorian and Chinese design elements (unlike the Buckle Cheongsam), we merely had me wear garments from both cultures in one outfit. It's not exactly the most sophisticated, original or ambitious method, but at this point we were mostly just playing around with ideas.

The model is wearing beige linen Ru (襦) and black linen Ku (褲) under a high-waisted Regency-inspired waistcoat. The waistcoat has brass compass buttons and is made from black suede. It is trimmed with black silk velvet. The model is also wearing the beer goggles and a rice hat (it has other names, but this being ricepunk, how could I really use any other?) She also has a pocketwatch in her waistcoat pocket, the silver chain of which is visible.

The Designer is remarkably proud of his ability to coax me into looking wistfully into the distance. I believe he was hoping the scratched on graffiti of the door would look a little like esoteric runes at a cursory glance, but I'm not sure it entirely works. The scroll, unsurprisingly, is the same takeaway calendar as the one seen with the Wuxia Scholar. I like to imagine that it's a map or directions the character is following. She comes across as a little uncertain about her location, but by no means overwhelmed by her circumstances.

To commission a similar outfit from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £80-90.

More photos under the cut.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Purple Dress with Brocade Inset

This midnight purple gown is made from faux silk  taffeta and a complex golden brocade. It has a beautifully pleated front and a voluminous skirt. There a slight gatherings at the bottom of the overskirt. The Designer feels this is all rather too subtle and doesn't show off the gown's greatest asset: its brocade's ornate paisley pattern - perhaps justifiably so since very little of the six meters of brocade can be seen.

(Yes, that's the inimitable Durham Cathedral in the background. The celestial spheres, however, disapprove and too much of the dress in consequently cast into shadow.)

The gown's a little early Victorian if you squint, but personally not overtly. The idea of the inset comes from looking at the lovely images of the Strawberry Gown from The Young Victoria, but other than that the two garments have very little in common. The Purple dress certainly isn't particularly drop shoulder and by all accounts it is rather modest in construction.

To commission a similar dress with a brocade underskirt from the Mercenary will cost around £160.

More photos under the cut.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Preview: Asian-influenced Steampunk

Also known as "ricepunk."

It is, admittedly, a silly word, but coming from a culture where the word for "rice" is synonymous with "food", it amuses me.

The Designer and I have been sitting on these designs for a while. The buckle cheongsam has been sitting in the wardrobe for the better part of three months and we haven't had the time to present it to the internet. The genre of Asian Steampunk hasn't exactly been particularly fecund which makes the whole endeavour rather more intimidating. Off the top of my head, I could only really name James Ng (who is, incidentally, amazing) as working actively in the West. Granted, there are various bits of Asian origin that could qualify, such as the flying machines in On His Majesty's Secret Service (though a truly terrible film) and the power armour in A Chinese Tall Story, but there is very limited interest in it around these parts, especially in output that isn't in anime. The extent of "Victorientalism" in costume seems mostly limited to wearing a corset over a cheongsam or a kimono.

The basic idea of the project was to play around with the shapes of Chinese clothing and throw in classic "steampunk" design elements. We weren't particularly ambitious, some of this was just done by just wearing a Chinese shirt with a brass-buttoned waistcoat and goggles. We weren't so much imagining a different world (the possibilities of Asian Steampunk are exciting: greatships and waterclocks, printers and giant compasses, ornate metal dragons dancing on every wrought iron surface - this is the part of the world that did, after all, invent gunpowder) as much as just playing around with shapes and concepts. This is more an oriental character being a bit lost (or not lost) in a classic steampunk setting.

I felt a little guilty including the opium pipe in the shoot. At that point we were just throwing as many stereotypes of the Oriental genre into photo as possible.

That said, at least I'm not wielding a katana.

These photos were taken by St Giles Church, in Durham. Mostly just for the nice stone wall background rather than anything more interesting than that.

What are your initial impressions?

More photos from this shoot and discussion about individual costumes in the next few days.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Revenge of the Steampunk Coat: Green Prototype

Back at Foreign Fields Kit Fair, some months ago, I sold a coat off the Proprietor's back and in return, I promised to get him a new Steampunk Coat. And so it was, he commissioned a Green Steampunk Coat as a prototype.

The Green Steampunk Coat is almost exactly like the Red and the Blue in construction. It shares the same cotton velvet, though this time in a dark forest green with a matching faux silk lining. The gilt-and-sap-green jacquard trim bears a geometric design. The contrast fabric is a brown faux suede and the detailing is in brass. The coat bears the iconic cog-and-screw buttons of the Steampunk line.

The Proprietor firmly believes that no one should ever wear the Steampunk Coat done up due to its innately fiddly nature and its robe-like qualities when done up. He is wearing the coat with a black steampunk shirt (with gunmetal grey buckles) and a utility belt made of the same soft faux suede as the coat (which is in some ways rather unideal for the belt, but that is a different matter).

The Steampunk Coat is currently in stock at Character Kit in Red and Blue. For one in custom colours like this one (or purple, black, brown, etc), email the Costume Mercenary for more details.

More photos under the cut.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Black Lace Dress

The Black Lace Dress was last seen worn under the burgundy velvet Steampunk Buckle Dress. It's high-collared and entirely composed of black lace with a crisp black faux silk lining, except for the sleeves which are unlined.

The photo to the left is, of course, photo-shopped. The temptation was too much (many unphotoshopped ones under the cut). The bright green of the grass and blue of the sky was just too ungothic. There's nothing dark and brooding about a cloudless sky.

To commission a similar dress from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £65-70.

More photos under the cut.

Robe or Dress? Photos from the Armoury Tidy

It's been a very long day sorting out Treasure Trap's Armoury (it's where we keep all the set-dressing, jewellery, costume and weapons).

We played many, many rounds of Robe or Dress? The definitive test was, apparently, imagining the Wardrobe Officer (a ginger man with a bushy beard, last seen in a bug mask here) in it. If the mental images elicits any more than a smile, then it is not a robe, but a dress. We briefly thought it would be a highly entertaining flash game in which bored interweb denizens can click Robe or Dress, a bit like the classic Hot or Not websites but more garment based and intrinsic comedic potential.

Many random objects of unknown providence were again rediscovered. Among them was the phys-rep for a purple demonic wall, leather knee armour, a pumpkin costume and a black lacy poncho. During which we also concluded that fake beards counted as hats and the society as a whole had too many sashes. We also found fragments of an inscribed foam tablet that drove us all mad as we tried to reassemble and read it (there were many missing pieces).

All in all, it was terrifyingly productive and now there's actually some space for the Mercenary's stock.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Angel Blue Gown

More photos from the forgotten pile, discovered as during the archiving and indexing was going on.

There's something about this dress and the way these shots are staged that draws my mind to the Pre-Raphaelites, but perhaps that's just because I've been dabbling in designs from Waterhouse recently. The dress is really too long, made from an angel blue cotton damask. It's unlined and is trimmed with yellow silk velvet trim and is worn over a long white linen chemise. I would describe it as Tudor-ish around the edges, perhaps High Medieval, but decidedly fantasy.

The model is wearing the same tiny pendant-watch as seen with the Burgundy Velvet Gown and the same chemise.

To commission a dress in similar materials from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £80.

More photos under the cut.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Prototype: The Thief's Gambeson

The Thief's Gambeson went through many names and in the end, came back to being known as what it is now. It is a cotton-padded  garment, made from brown faux suede. It is lined and edged in a dark brown linen. The straps are made from the same linen. All the trappings are made of a brass-coloured metal alloy.

The Gambeson features belt loops, pouches and a tool-roll (detailed photos of the roll under the cut). The left sleeve is detachable and the right vambrace has on it two dagger loops. It also has two very basic weaponsloops at the back (suitable for weapons up to 36" in length. A 42" is a little too long to draw easily.)

The sketch first made its appearance on the blog in February and to be honest, the name "chicken wrapped in bacon" is still used above any other when not trying to sell it someone.

In aesthetic, the Designer and I like to think of it as classic "dungeonpunk", a term that I believe Dungeons and Dragons coined for themselves when describing their style in the days of early 3.0. I still think of the great Buckle Mage as the iconic and archetypal iteration of this style with his excessive belting, but I do believe many of the better informed denizens of geekdom would question this statement.

Dungeonpunk, of course, has gained meaning as a setting descriptor. The curious reader may go lose themselves in the wonderful tvtropes for further illumination on the topic.

The sleeve is attached by only a short ribbon in the photos. Ideally, it should be laced on with thonging, but we forgot some the day of the photoshoot and had to use Gracewing's hair ribbon.

That all said, the nice man who bought it off me at Nerd East said he was going to play a surgeon in it. So perhaps all this talk of dungeonpunk and thieves and scouts is all moot. Equally, I was told that the design was very anime and evoked images of the Final Fantasy games (which apparently also shares this costume's affinity to asymmetry).

To commission a similarly fiddly gambeson from the Costume Mercenary would cost in the region of £160.

The gambeson is worn under a white and brown version of the Steampunk Shirt, to be available via Character Kit shortly.

More photos under the cut.

Prototype: The Steampunk Buckle Dress

Back in April, the Mercenary posted a poll asking readers which of her steampunk designs should be put into prototype. The Steampunk Buckle Dress won by an overwhelming margin (though the Designer is still suspicious that it's because it was the only dress displayed above the cut) and so it was that it came to gain physical existence.

The Steampunk Buckle Dress is made of a burgundy silk velvet. The high-collared underdress is made from black lace and fastens with a long zip down the back. It's lined in black faux silk, with exception of the sleeves. The straps on the dress are made of a black faux suede. The velvet buckle dress has lacing down the back and is in that way adjustable. It is very low-waisted, with the lace detail sitting quite low on the hips. I believe the intention was to create a long, elegant line, but success is debatable.

We used the same square brass buckles as in the Steampunk Coat and the small rose-shaped buttons of the Red Rose Coat. We used the large eyelets that act as trim for the Steampunk Coat, which was something of a mistake as it makes the velvet straps even more unwieldy to do up.

To commission a similar outfit from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £170. However, if you wish to buy this particular prototype (including underdress) as seen in the photos (The Shadow is quite squarely a UK size 10, though do email the Mercenary for exact measurements of the garment), it would cost £140.

This set of pictures was among the last we did that day and I rather do think it shows in the quality as the beating sun took its toll on us. My hands were getting rather more shaky and The Shadow caught several extended fits of giggling.

And the sword is, as frequently is the case, from Character Kit.

More photos under the cut.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Nerd East! A Lengthy Illustrated Ramble about the Event

Nerd East was a lot of fun, and not simply for purely mercenary reasons (it's in the name). The Proprietor and myself were downstairs, which was notably more quiet (especially with Cutting Edge's absence due to an unfortunate van situation).

We happened to be in the room where Durham University Treasure Trap runs its tavern nights. It did briefly feel weird that we were there during the day, that I wasn't covered in green facepaint and there weren't Norscan raiders after my blood. The other thing I can't seem to get used to is people recognising me from the Internet. It's still rather surreal and a little sorry to the lovely people I babbled incoherently at. Though this shouldn't stop you from saying "hi", I really do appreciate it.

There was general amazement at student union bar prices. There was affability and effusiveness from all. All the stalls were full of interesting things and friendly people. This knight from the Fools and Heroes stall had the most brilliant costume and I couldn't stop admiring it. The Designer keeps making noises about going in the near future.

Julie's Monster Claws (available through Character Kit) are unspeakably amazing. The photo on Character Kit simply does not do its sheer size and bulk and monstrosity justice.

We kept talking about doing a troll photoshoot with them to demonstrate their enormity, but until then, we have a photo of Julie with them on. They do make everyone look like they have massive gorilla arms. (Yes, for the eagle-eyed, she's wearing a slightly shorter version of the Red Rose Coat with Aquila buttons.)

I met some lovely players whose live roleplay system organiser who bought two pairs of the claws. They were rather understandably regarding this knowledge with deep suspicion and worries about the mortality of future characters.

There was Cogs and Bones, a new steampunk (well, technically dark gaslamp sci-fi, according to their website) larp that's starting up. It's rather promising and rather ambitious, so go peer at its brassy depths.

No photo can really convey the sheer quantity of weapons that Eldritch showed up with. Suffice to say they were awesome and everyone else appeared to have thought so due to the three empty mailbags at the end of the day. He's apparently been playing NeoSteam and has made some really cool-looking (and wacky) weapons from it.

Cities in Darkness, an independent society running four interlinked Vampire the Requiem games in the North East (Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington) was also present.

To those who were there, what did you make of it?

Afternote: If you would rather your photo doesn't appear here, drop me an email and I'll take it off the post.

More photos under the cut.

Prototype: The Original, Original Elven Robes

Nerd East, by all accounts (including mine), went splendidly. There is talk of having another as the Designer and others were high off the success of this one. I have photos taken at the event and will likely be rambling about the event in the near future post.

But that is another day, today, I'm posting the first of the huge number of photos taken last week.

Both layers outft is made from a crisp bridal satin and are unlined. The lilac robe features the leaf-like sleeves. It is fastened with a long zip down the back. The coat with hanging sleeves worn over the robe is a silver-grey and is fastened with knot-buttons down the front. The satin is very soft and flows beautifully. There is a photo of just the lilac robe under the cut.

The colours are meant to be evocative of the cinematic twilight that elves are often seen in. Not real twilight, of course, but the misty, blue-tinted haze that is cinematic twilight.

This is based loosely on Arwen's Battle Outfit that was cut from The Two Towers. It has a lot in common with the Original Elven Coat, as it almost the same design, however, instead of faux suede and linen, these robes are made of bridal satin.

The Mercenary does have more ideas for elven designs. Which probably isn't the most convincing statement at the moment given the reiteration of these particular design elements.

If you want to commission a set of robes in similar materials from the Costume Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-100. However, if you want to buy this particular prototype set off me (the model is a UK size 10, but it can be loose or tight-fitting one size each side), it would cost £75. Email the Mercenary for more details.

More photos under the cut.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Commission: Trickster's Tattercoat

The Trickster's Tattercoat was a commission, envisioned by the customer as a "sort of ragged, tattered version of the technicolour dreamcoat" that has been "deliberately made frombright rags, complete with lots of pieces of loose, trailing cloth".

The base coat is made of a dark red linen with black linen accents. In terms of textures and materials, the tatters are made mostly of cotton and linen from an utter rainbow of colours but with a preference for red. The tatters aren't edged and are left to fray, in time to be more ragged than it is now. The coat also has a silver stretch silk lining.

The buttons are mismatched. Each is different in design, covering a range of metals (gunmetal grey to brass to copper). The "bright, flamboyant, theatrical-looking" character this is intended for has something of a magpie mind, so the wide range of shinies bedecking the coat seemed a good idea.

It's made to fit rather a larger man than the model in question, but due to it needing to reach its new owner as soon as possible, this good gentleman was the best we could find. The new owner has kindly promised me pictures from the live roleplay event, which I hope to repost here with permission when I get them.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £140-50. Email her for more details.

As usual, more photos under the cut, including one of the rejected sketches (with a different collar and a more blue colour scheme) and a close-up of the many mismatched buttons.

Fashion Plates Links

The Internet offers quite a huge resource for fashion plates. I've been happily browsing through this flickr album of Vintage fashion plates, as well as the University of Washington's digital collection. I'm also rather in love with the fashion plates on 18thCenturyBlog. I've also recently acquired Victorian Fashions: A Pictorial Archive with Over 1000 Illustrations of Women's Fashions from 1855-1903, which lovely, though rather crowded and the lack of context makes some of the pictures rather baffling. (That said, the Designer and myself did spend ages somewhat childishly snarking the illustrations.)

Unfortunately, for all the ready inspiration, the art-shoe-box hasn't really been deployed of late. There should be ample time after Nerd East this weekend. I've managed to lose the original file for my business cards and the .pdf left off my phone number for unknown reasons and almost crashed the laptop.

In other design-related thoughts processes, am expressing bafflement at the phrase "steampunk weaving machines" in the Steampunk Style Test. I'm not sure weaving machines could get more steampunk or better at their job considering what actual historical Victorians were turning out. After all, weaving machines with their pattern punch cards are the great precursor to computers. Joseph Jacquard was an immense influence Babbage.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Preview: Down into Ambush Valley

Due to the rather excellent weather, there was another lengthy midday photoshoot, though this time, we rather more ambitiously wandered over to Ambush Valley. To the more mundane, it is known (or rather it is part of) Pelaw Wood. It is along one of the common linear routes used by our local live roleplay system. The name comes from  the rather steep sides of the valley which make it the perfect ambush location.

The dress pictured to the right is the prototype of the long-awaited Steampunk Buckle Dress, from the Steampunk Designs Poll three months ago. It has a number of flaws, which I shall innumerate in its own post (such as velvet and buckles interfacing poorly), but overall the effect is rather fine.

Perhaps due to the location, the gentlewoman highwayman does emerge as a theme in these photos. My lovely model seems to look like she's about to drop the damsel in distress act and shoot someone in the face, whilst shouting Stand and Deliver! It could simply be my rather extensive acquaintance with the characters she plays, but I rather liked that aspect of the photos.

The Designer told me off many times when we were reviewing the photos (around six hundred of them) for having the sun in the wrong position. It appears that I've gotten too used to the hazy, diffuse sunlight of overcast British springs and smoggy Hong Kong days, where the light-sources-behind-the-camera rule need not be as strictly enforced. Or so runs my excuse.

Over the next few days, I hope to be posting photos of a purple gown with gold brocade underskirt, a very gothic black lace dress, a grey and lilac elven outfit, the Steampunk Buckle Dress and a scarlet fantasy dress... yes, it was rather a long day.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Preview: The Steampunk "They Fight Crime!" Photoshoot

He's a deeply religious sweet-toothed gentleman spy on the hunt for the last specimen of a great and near-mythical creature. She's a time-travelling kleptomaniac mermaid from aristocratic European stock. They fight crime!

The weather was rather fine, so we wandered over to the public green in the middle of the Moorlands and did a rather brisk photoshoot of the various steampunk pieces we've recently done. As usual, I'll write on each of the items in their individual posts, but to quickly name the articles, Gracewing is in a prototype of the outfit in the Gas Mask Woman sketch and the Proprietor is wearing a green version of the Steampunk Coat.

He's a world-famous coffee-fuelled sorceror on a search for his missing sister. She's a scantily clad paranoid research scientist with someone else's memories. They fight crime!

We hadn't intended to do the paired shots (it's surprisingly difficult to have both models with their eyes open and looking unsilly at the same time), but the moment I noticed that both the Proprietor and Gracewing were in green and brown steampunk clothing, it seemed to be an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I almost regret not walking further to get a better backdrop for these shots.

We, of course, had the pleasure of having Gracewing in front of the camera again (seen before in the Steampunk Dress). She bought the Red Steampunk Tailcoat from me and kindly volunteered to model it. Gracewing runs Ephyn and makes utterly amazing cosplay costumes. She's won numerous awards. If you've ever seen a cosplay video of Red XIII on youtube, that would be her. She also built Catbus and Nefertimon (from Digimon) for the sheer challenge of it.

(For those who aren't aware of the trope, click over to the They Fight Crime Generator.)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Odyssey Concept Sketches: Persia

Again, the sifting through the archives for the purposes of index-creation has lead to the discovery that I hadn't posted all the Odyssey costume concept sketches I had done.

Once more for the readers that don't follow the UK live roleplay scene, Profound Decisions is starting up a new fest system this August. It's setting is a fantastical mirror of the Classical world.

The sketch to the left was drawn shortly after watching the film A Night with the King, set in biblical Persia. The rather over the top trim along the collar seems to make some think of Egypt, but the drape at the waist is quite decidedly decorated with the Tree of Life. It is also very, very purple, which is also the especially favoured colour of Persias.

The costume of the warleader to the right features tasselled fringing along its paisley-pattered surcoat, bright colours, volumous trousers and an exotic hat. I was rather dubious about the hat, but the Designer insisted at all his research apparently indicated a great passion for strange hats in the distant lands of Persia.* The warleader pictured is also wearing armour made of leather plates and leather vambraces.

It is also around this point that I notice I hadn't drawn any Persian women, so perhaps I'll be able to find time after Nerd East to scribble something.


* Our opinion on Persia hats is not at all influenced by the fact that once upon a time there was a character named Hatef with a demonic hat at the Durham-run event about the Immortal God-King of Persia.

Pictures Lost and Found: Burgundy Velvet Gown

Whilst sorting through older photos for the Costume Index, I discovered that I hadn't actually fully posted the photos from that lengthy Durham Excursion. So here is the first of those...

The overgown is made of silk velvet (the same velvet as the Sirius Black Housecoat), edged with black-and-gold jacquard trim (with a swirly, somewhat leafy pattern) and is largely unlined.

For all it's pretensions, this isn't the Plum Pirate Gown from the first (and some say only) Pirates of the Caribbean film. The colour is more of a burgundy than a plum, but this largely depends on the whims of the onlooker.

The shape and the front fastening down the middle of the bodice with hooks and eyes owes quite a bit to the costume in question, but a shift in materials (from the original shot silk to silk velvet), a dispensing of much of the detail and a general failure to bustle up the skirt means the resemblance is only passing to the "elaborate, exquisitely detailed plum-colored silk dress with black lace insets, brocaded accents, cream linen-and-lace sleeves and full-length black skirt" that Elizabeth Swan wore.

The dress is worn over a white linen underdress (that looks nothing like the Rum Island Shift) and a black lace skirt (worn with a number of dresses, including the Black Velvet Coat with Embroidered Lining and the Purple Polonaise).

Rather sunbleached photos aside, I'm rather pleased with this dress.

More photos under the cut.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Great Costume Index....

The Mercenary has spent far too long fiddling about with it and squinting and tiny 100x100 graphics, but I'm proud to announce that I've finally gotten it to work and the links are good. Almost all the costumes can now be found represented in the great thumbnail-fest that is The Great Costume Index. Go have a look. Duplicates largely exist due to some costumes having multiple posts. Mouseover the thumbnails for the name of the costume.

Next housekeeping thing to produce: The Great Sketch Index.

In Other News: Nerd East is happening this weekend. Myself and Character Kit will be there, among many other people. It will be brilliant. Come along and say hi.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Commission: Sirius Black Housecoat

I've just popped this coat into the post (hopefully not soggified by the rain I just trekked through), so I thought it about time to write about it.

The coat is made from a beautiful burgundy silk velvet and is lined in a matching brocade. One of the interesting little features about it is that it has a long and thin wand pocket (see photo under the cut) on the inside.

As can be be surmised form the title of the post, the coat is based largely on a housecoat worn by the character Sirius Black in film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. He wears it in scene where he shows Harry the Black Family Tree tapestry and gives a rather lengthy plot dump. The original seems to be inspired by a Victorian or Edwardian smoking jacket, worn by gentlemen as they sit around in clubs or sitting rooms with pipe and brandy. There's a slightly similar garment (next to a rather terrifying one) in John Peacock's Men's Fashion: The Complete Sourcebook, under Underwear and Negligee 1882-1894. In fact, a lot of the aesthetics of the Wizarding World in the Harry Potter films appear to draw from the turn of the century fashion and interiors.

I can't say this version of the coat can rival this rather more famous one on Severely Right Brained and they do differ somewhat in construction. The customer had wanted it to slightly less theatrical as this was designed not as a stage magician's costume but as a piece of clothing to be worn normally. The gatherings at the back are significantly less excessive (thus a lot less "swish" to the coat). It also has shorter sleeves and isn't lined in black.

To commission a coat like this one from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-100.

More photos under the cut.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Prototype: More Photos of the Inquisitor's Greatcoat

The Inquisitor's Greatcoat is made from a very thick wool-linen blend and lined in bright red stretch silk. It's very warm. It has two collars and features the brass Aquila buttons. It and its design sketch appeared in this post not so long ago, where it is worn by a woman several sizes too small.

For reasons of certain items needing to be in the post as soon as possible, I was scrambling around for models this morning and this lovely gentleman had time on his hands to stand in various outfits in the garden (nothing fancy, we did wonder about wandering down to the ruined chapel, but apathy overtook us).

The rather fine cravat is the model's own. He remarked that it was only a "cheating" one since it had a loop in it to make it easier to tie.

The past few days have been hectic, to say the least, and this weekend was a lesson in how despite being hideously under-prepared and badly packed and still a smudge ill, I am still capable of having one of the best events ever at Maelstrom. (Though I am rather looking forward to the coming weeks when I can sit down and write that novel I'm supposed to do before the heat death of the universe.) Most of the fears I alluded to concerning kit I was handing over to their new owners appear to be unfounded (not entirely, but I digress), and I did manage to forget the camera, so unfortunately there no photos.

The Inquisitor's Greatcoat is available from Character Kit for the prototype price of £130.

More photos under the cut.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Commission: The Banner of the Teacher and other Maelstromic Rambles

It's the day before Cavalcade (the year's second Maelstrom event, a live-roleplay system run by Profound Decisions). Most of this household attends (and plays) so... chaos ensues.

There are various bits of kit due to be delivered to their respective new owners tomorrow (my fretting, I shall not delve further into, but suffice to say I'm more than ever aware of the imperfections of each piece), among them is the banner to the left.

Those familiar with Maelstrom have probably already seen this banner's earlier incarnation on the cover of the event materials of Provocation not so long ago. For a number of reasons, a more "bling" version is now called for. Though I do miss the stark simplicity of the black and white one. I was there for the now iconic original's impressive last-minute creation at around 4am in the morning from white sheeting, iron-on transfer paper and a walking stick.

This one, however, was made from the same curtain brocade as the Reverend Oriana's vestments. The yellow (gold?) velvet ribbon that trims the banner is also the same as that on the vestments. The sun and its background are done from stretch silk and there's another blank square on the back for the footnote. Elder Carrie painted the text "Hell Shall Tremble" herself with fabric paint onto white linen.

The photo is taken indoors, so the colours seems somewhat muted. Hopefully, I'll get a photo of it held by the Reverend Magistrate Oriana Krikorovna Vladivieva (Envoy to Hell on behalf of His Holiness the Hierophant) herself tomorrow.

In Other News: I really shouldn't be reading "Thou Art Understood!" Ch'ing Court Communication as Reflected in the Palace Memorials, but this most excellent book with lengthy excerpts from real historical letters reads like a compendium of Maelstrom downtime communications. And is hence hilarious.
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