Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Preview: Deep Red Elven Gown

This deep red elven gown with beaded trim, inspired by the many beautiful gowns of the Evenstar (and more specifically the Cranberry Velvet Gown) though this doesn't feature the interesting seaming techniques of the original and instead of a scoop neck, it has an unusually wide bateau neck (born out of the fact that the gold beaded trim is straight and thus stubborn about turning corners). The sleeves aren't as huge as would be ideal, but we ran out of fabric and it seemed as reasonable a compromise as any. The whole dress feels oddly delicate and I have some fears about the durability of the beaded trim. On the other hand, the overall effect is more than slightly opulent.

The red of the velvet is deep and luscious, closer to a rosewood or a carmine than the photos would immediately suggest. The shifting colours of the silk velvet and the bad lighting made for less than ideal photos. (Which makes this a preview of sorts. The lighting was temperamental the day we did the photos and I wasn't pleased with the results. With time and reflection, they seem good enough to appear in the blog but I do intend to do them again when given the opportunity.)

I've also been scouring Lord of the Rings for costuming cues of late and it hasn't exactly been the most rewarding experience. Tolkien is vague at best when it comes to descriptions of clothing. The primary aspects I could really pin down about elven clothing seems to be that its grey, shining and iridescent.

At the sight of Arwen, Evenstar of her people, Frodo confides in Gandalf:
"At last I understand why we have waited! This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!'"
Unfortunately, there is little about her appearance one can glean from the preceding passage other than that she was glimmering in the evening, with stars on her brow.

Diamante are all too easily abused in ornamentation and iridescence isn't something that works particularly well beyond princess dresses of little small children and stage costume, and even then I find the concept questionable. This all feeds back to the development of modern tastes and the idea of "tacky" - something that didn't really exist before the widespread use of cheap, bright colours and cheap sparkly things (like diamante). But more on that with the next spate of elven sketches.

To commission a similar gown from the Costume Mercenary would cost in the region of £150 in stretch velvet and £180 in silk velvet.

A few more photos of the elven gown (including a blurry details shot of the beaded trim) under the cut.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Commission: Black Linen Cassock

This cassock is made of black linen. It's unlined and is fastened with a row of gunmetal grey buttons down the front that give the cassock a mild steampunk edge. It has three deep pleats at the back, plain cuffs, piping and a standing collar.

It was commissioned by Femina Necans, who is modelling the garment herself in the photos. The Designer and I were unable to convince her that she wanted the cassock to be edge in purple or red (like the high ranking catholic cassocks). There was some debate as to where we should move the front pleats so as the garment interfaced with breasts, but overall it can't be said to be the most exciting of commissions. Also seen in the photos is the silver-lined Necromancer Cloak, with gunmetal grey rose buttons (like those on the Red Rose Coat, but larger).

With the cathedral in the background, we did joke that we were taking photos for some form of female priests campaign or the Miss November of a priestly fund-raising calendar.

We toyed with giving the whole set a more vampire-hunter feel with more props and taking some by the weather-worn tombstones in front of the cathedral, but in the end, none of those came out particularly well. Still with the cassock worn open and armed with the gun (from Evenlode Studio) and the Tallows dagger, I fancied this brought to mind Solomon Kane (except more Catholic).

There isn't more more to say of the cassock, save if you would want one like it, it would cost in the region of £50-55.

More photos of the black linen cassock under the cut.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Commission: Hooded Elven Coat

The hooded elven coat is commissioned to be a version of our elven coat made from the soft black suedette, much like the green. It's lined in black faux silk, with exception of the hood which is green and the sleeves which are self-lined.

The green and gold ivy-patterned jacquard trim is the same as that used on the Forest Cloak. It is worn here with a olive green silk-linen elven tunic and trousers.

There isn't much to say of the design, given how many variants we've done of it, though it does please me to see a return to the original elven coat. There are shades of the drow in the colours, though with edges of purple or red would perhaps work better than green for a specifically dark elf costume.

Green and gold versions of the elven coat are available from Character Kit for £75. Different colours and sizes can be commissioned for a similar price. The dagger seen in the photos is Character Kit's fey dagger (£15).

More photos of the black elven coat under the cut.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Preview: The Cloth and Dagger

We were down by Durham's cathedral and castle with Femina Necans, who very nicely agreed to appear in her commissioned cassock and various other bits and pieces.

Perhaps the primary frustration with using beautifully imposing buildings like the cathedral and the castle in such photoshoots is that many of their interesting features aren't near human height. We're only just beginning to learn the various tricks of manoeuvring the model into an interesting pose and have an interesting bit of masonry conveniently in the background. I must thank Femina Necans here for her ongoing patience with shuffling in front of the buildings concerned. 
The beautiful horse-hilted dagger seen in the photographs is a Tallows. And the replica cap-firing firearm is from Evenlode Studio.

As usual, I should be posting the photos up in the next week or so as I sift through them. The lengthening nights and early dusks are making the business of taking good photos of people in clothes rather more difficult. The dreary cloud-shrouded day was largely It was two thirty in the afternoon when we took these and the golden rays of the setting sun were already happily bleaching the colour from the shots.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Prototype: Arwen Mourning Coat

This is almost identical to the other Chase Dress, but for the fact it's in a black faux suede instead of teal, with matching black silk chiffon lacing. It fastens down the front with hook and eyes, under the chiffon lacing.

This of course doesn't really resemble Arwen's actual mourning gown from the Peter Jackson trilogy and rather comes from us saying "Think of Aragorn being dead!" during the photoshoot (which replaced last time's "Think of the Weight of the Ages!"). Wandering away from Tolkien, I suspect this may look rather fetching a drow character, with perhaps a dash of classic purple or red in the accompanying clothing and I can't say this wasn't made with appealing to that sort of aesthetic in mind.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £90-100. The prototype of the chase dress itself (UK women's size 16-18) is available on Character Kit for £90. 

In Other News: You should go wander over and have a look at Gracewing's Clockwork Firebird Designs, now with added updates. Photos of the amazing Catbus, Red XIII, the awesome spider-butt and more. (And of course, there's a spot of pride that she's wearing the steampunk velvet tailcoat with the beautiful Crown of Gears Leather Corset.)

More photos of the coat under the cut.

Steampunk Pirates Concept Art

Airship pirates, steampunk or otherwise, owe a lot of the aesthetics to the Golden Age of Piracy (which is largely Georgian, with particular emphasis on bucket-sleeves frock coats). And I do love the Carribean-esque air pirates (in all their many shades of historical accuracy), but as The Designer and I began talking steampunk pirates of late (in part due to a remark from one of the denizens on the BrassGoggles Forums a while back), we started thinking about "our" take on it (looking back, we did do a set of photos themed around a Steampunk Pirate earlier in the year).

We return to the fact that high altitudes are really quite cold and whilst we can justify the wearing of loose coats and more abbreviated clothing with technology that compensates it seems worth more than a moment to explore the idea (the classic being spacious heated cabins, boiler room temperatures or you can just handwave it altogether; Disney's Treasure Planet pretty much went this route with its aesthetics and happily did it handwave why its frock-coat-wearing characters were sailing through space on galleon-esque vessels. Very pretty, by the way, if completely silly).

So, the Designer and I looked at what early pilots wore. Fleece-lined bomber jackets are certainly very iconic. Some seemed to be simply wearing electric blankets plugged into the engines (and strapped to themselves). It's really very cold up in high altitudes. We looked at photos (much like this fighter pilot), read articles (particularly found Flight Clothing for High Altitudes useful) and had a look at the Anime Last Exile at the recommendation of a friend.

And here are the results.

The basic premise revolves around the materials and textures of a aviator jacket and the shape of the Georgian frock coats. We wanted the collar to be very reminiscent of a bomber jacket, but with more buttons and buckles instead of zips (old trick, we know). We were also vaguely trying to cut back on the number of pockets and pouches (not trying to seem too much like a one trick pony when it comes to designs) but they snuck in anyway.

The shorter sleeves with the long leather gloves were supposed to bring a touch of practicality (allowing for interesting detail but keeping them out of the way). The Designer felt that the harness with the d-rings could possibly be used in conjunction with rigging or seatbelts of some kind. We tried to incorporate classic pirate accessories (like the tricorn, the sabre and a cravat), but also insignia badges, flying scarves and aviator caps.

The results straddle classic steampunk and dieselpunk, but I'm reasonably happy with the pictures though it some of it still looks a little disjointed. What do you think?

Oh, and fleece is annoying to draw.

(For what it's worth, the Proprietor is using some of this concept art to illustrate Haslanti League in his Exalted game.)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Prototype: Black Velvet Coat with Embroidered Lining

This coat is made of beautifully soft black stretch velvet and lined with a faux silk that is embroidered with lilac rosebuds and wandering vines. The trim is a black and gold jacquard.

In design, this effectively the previous black velvet coat, but with lilac flowers instead of pale pink ones embroidered on the lining, a decision dictated largely by the availability of fabric.

I confess to be dabbling with something of the gothic here. This and the black chase dress were together titled "Mourning" when it comes to folders. They were taken just days before Halloween, hence the use of the oversized toy heart as a prop with the silver goblet. Kathed was, as always, fantastic to work with (and she endured most graciously all the Mercenary's the tired jokes about elves, the weight of the ages, bored ladies, fan language, etc).

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost £90-100, though significantly cheaper with a plainer lining.  The design of the coat almost entirely hinges on the embroidered fabric and its availability, so exact replicas are not always possible. The tentative beginnings of the range are available from Character Kit for £85.

The Mercenary also did a single-clasp riding coat/gown in green and purple cotton brocade.

More photos of the Black Velvet Coat Dress under the cut.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Commission: Reversible Clockpunk Frock Coat

This commission was based around a character concept I won't delve too deeply into, but the short of it is a discreet messenger with a mild steampunk/clockpunk vibe. The Designer and I kicked around a lot of ideas, most of them circling hidden pockets and pouches of rolled papers. The upshot appears to be us taking elements of the steampunk coat and fusing it with a frock coat.

The most interesting feature of the Clockpunk* Frock Coatis that it's reversible (though it does make any shaping rather difficult, thus resulting in a loose, flared coat). It has a "fancy" side (purple faux silk damask) and a "practical" side (Tyrian purple faux suede) with all the various pockets. The various pockets (including ones under the cuff) and the cuffs themselves are in a dark brown faux suede. The documents glimpsed in the pockets are, as some readers may recognise, the New World Chronicle (of the larp, Maelstrom).

The cuffs fold both ways and the effort of reversing them does make quick costume changes difficult. The buttons go all around the sleeve, making for a nice effect, but they do occasionally catch.

There was briefly the intention of having different buttons on the two sides of the coat, but that was complication involving that and in the end, it never really came about.

The concept art to the left of the coat, of course, showing the two sides of it being worn. Originally, before the coat was shortened to mid-thigh, we toyed with the idea of adding utterly giant pockets to the practical side.

The camera ran out of battery during the shoot and we had to do some pick-up shots in my back garden the next week (bonus shot of the sniffly Mercenary bundled in an overcoat with bucket cuffs).

The beautiful pistols are again from Makai Larp and the dagger from Character Kit. The shirt and waistcoat are both from the Mercenary. The white is a steampunk shirt (though it is rather too big on the model)l. A black twin of the green waistcoat can be seen on the Victoriental Traveller. She is also wearing the ever-useful Beer Googles and has around her neck one of the lovely globe watches.

To commission a similar coat from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £120-130.

More photos of the Reversible Clockpunk Frock Coat (including early design sketches) under the cut.


* The term clockpunk is used here largely because the coat and its character concept are vaguely intended for live roleplay setting which centres around clockwork and magic rather than steam engines, placing it - for those pedantically inclined - more in the realms of clockpunk than steam.

But really, who is the Mercenary kidding? I'm also hoping to crawl up the google search results as well.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Prototype: Cavalry Armour

I've already remarked upon the Elizabeth I: The Golden Age overtones in the preview post, the coincidence of having a red-head and plate armour in a photoshoot. Perhaps not unlike our Unintentional Agatha Heterodyne Cosplay.

The armour is made from stainless steel and is modelled after medieval cavalry armour. It was a prototype piece as Julie Knox was working out how to work make plate armour.

I'm afraid Julie has utterly foresworn ever working with steel, but if you fancy commissioning some custom leather or latex armour (like or unlike the Oriet), do drop us an email.

Also seen in the photos is the beautifully detailed Mysdanael Short Sword, available from Character Kit for £80.

More photos of the cavalry armour under the cut.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Midnight Blue Winged Doublet Again

This winged doublet is made from a midnight blue cotton velvet and is lined and edged in red linen. It closes in front with eight round metal buttons with a fairly subtle Celtic cross design.

Not much has changed since the last time this winged doublet appeared on the blog and, I daresay, I haven't gained any greater insight into it since, except that it works far better on the Proprietor (which is unsurprisng, really, since it actually fits him) and looks moderately dashing with breeches (despite the abounding anachronisms).

It's worn in this case over a basic frilly shirt, linen breeches from the Mercenary and some fencing socks.

To commission a similar doublet from the Mercenary would cost in the region of £75-85. This doublet prototype in particular is now available from Charackter Kit for £70.

More photos of the midnight blue doublet under the cut.

Owlbears, Fashion Shows and Many Shiny Things: An Illustrated Ramble on Foreign Fields

Last weekend, the Proprietor and myself were at Foreign Fields Larp Kit Fair. There was some really very excellent kit on display, including these giant skulls the size of a beach ball.

We had the spectacular monster claws with us and on the spur of the moment decided that they needed to be entered into the Fantasy Fashion Show upon the hands of the Proprietor. We had brought no specific costume to speak of, but we had "ingenuity" on our sides. Some fumbling through my stock later, the Proprietor was dressed in a feathered mantle, a camouflage green laced gamebson and a pair of basic drawstring trousers. We decided that this all together makes him a fearsome owlbear (darling of the various monster manual wtfs). I was in the surprisingly popular (but still unsold) twilight elven robes, which were not a little large on me but very flowing.

More photos (of varying quality) and rambling about Foreign Fields under the cut.

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