Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Oscar Wilde is in my kitchen!!

He is going to be looking thoughtfully at me every time I use the oven!
Our lovely friend Kerry put the tiles up this afternoon. I found the two feature tiles years ago and we've been planning to do this tiling for that long. Three years maybe? Heavens! The one with the pic of Oscar says, "I can resist anything except temptation" and the other one says, "Life is too important to be taken seriously." I also have the one about being talked about and not being talked about, which will end up being a pot hob. At some time.
So, tomorrow I am grouting!
No more horribly denim blue splash back tiles, instead we have lovely white ones. That will show every mark and splash. Of course!
The apartment was covered in plaster dust when I got home and I just spent two hours vacuuming and mopping and wiping. SO worth it though! :)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates

So who out there has seen this series? And/or reads the original books by Kerry Greenwood?
Years go I started emailing Kerry with suggestions for actresses to play Phryne when the series was finally made, but we forced to agree it would never happen. That was back when the ABC paid for 6 hours of fiction based programming a year. Things are now very different apparently, and I for one am very pleased to see the work of one of my favourite authors on the small screen.
Of course, the TV version is a highly reductive version of the original. The pool of characters has been pruned severely, omitting second adopted daughter Rose, Mrs Butler, Tinker, and sadly, reducing Lin Chung's role in her life to a two episode incident, not the long term partnership of body and mind in the books. AND they cast an actor whose diluted Asian heritage was hardly apparent. I think this says more about the perception of the Australian audience's tolerance for diversity more than it does anything else.
But, we're not here to grumble about what TV producers do to our favourite stories, we're here to have a thoroughly indulgent droolfest about the costumes, which are fantastic.
This coat!! I want one in my life very badly! I am a sucker for a beautiful coat and, well, it's that and more!
This suit is so glorious. I suspect it started life as a silk sari, and the borders have been lovingly used. Of course, it is red and gold so it got me straight away.
This ensemble is exquisite. The cut of those white trousers is perfect. Watching Essie Davis on screen moving around in this, it just sways and moves and generally supports our understanding that Phryne only dresses in the very best clothes.
The tumblr page I am sourcing these images from has a whole lot more, but stills do not do them justice. I love this imagining of the late 1920s in Melbourne, the lines of the costumes are very believable for the time, showing the transition to the styles of the 30s. 
So, any other fans out there? Any other takes on the book vs the TV series?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A new jacket for Constance

I've had it with black PVC! It looks good but it is so hot, and it takes forever to lace up. Plus it is black, which on stage is boring.
So, I am using it as the basis for a new jacket - far more outrageous, and super, shiny pretty!
And here is my fabric. Yes, it really is both leopard AND lurex. The pattern is quite big - that sequin trim is about 40mm wide, and I LOVE the way it has so many colours woven through it. The fabric itself is a surprisingly cottony feeling suiting. This is such a find, as so many lurex fabrics are really ligtweight and fray like mad. The piece is 2m long and about 160cm wide.
The PVC jacket is slightly stretchy, so when I copied it, I added a teeny bit to it all, and it is almost perfect.
Not that you could tell from this terrible photo MrC took. He can't get his head around the way the focus works! I am experimenting with the idea of draped cups, so I butchered an old bra to get the wires out of it. I left the lace in the cups in case it turns out to be useful. The whole thing looks like a mess but it really isn't. When it is in focus! ;-)
More soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Debut Video

Well of course there was our earlier 'set up' video, but this one is a genuine live performance.
I am not happy with this costume at all by the way, but I needed a change so I made do with what I had. I did two numbers, the other one was so fraught with technical issues, I haven't posted it anywhere. Not my fault and I soldiered through, but it doesn't show either myself or the venue to great effect.
So, you get this one! :) Introduction by the incomparable Sadie von Scrumptious, music recorded by Michael Nicholas Williams, lyrics by me, the rest is down to Constance!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Random Friday Make - Organza Boa

Well! I missed last week, too busy rehearsing (or let's face it, writing the last of the lyrics and trying to remember them!) and also making a boa.
I REALLY wanted a long, thick boa and I really don't care for feathers, they shed! 30 years ago when I first started making showgirl costumes, I made boas out of tulle, and I decided to try that technique this time, only using organza.
I used two rolls of 47cm wide organza floral wrap - which is just like organza ribbon only REALLY wide, and each roll is 10m long. I used purple and red, and laid one on top of the other. Then, I zigzagged 3mm silver bungy elastic down the middle, stretching it like mad as I went.
A tassle on each end, and pulling the layers apart resulted in a very pretty, OTT boa for Constance.
And there it is! Big, long, fluffy and sparkly.kinds like me! ;-)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My live Debut!

 Well, Constance's debut really! At Caburlesque show, The Mad, Bad World of Madonna, Fringe Bar last night, I sang two songs and had a ball!

 This is  me at half time in my robe, anything better than wearing PVC a moment longer! I think I look like a plump and ageing J H Lynch model! Between poses of course.
 This is my Rock Star photo, note the arms waving in the air, holding led tealights! hehehe. And some standing ovation stuff, which of course I can't see from up there.
The shiny costume and the bad light means I look like a white blob. Luckily, a real photographer was on hand and set up to get great shots of us on stage. I love them and I am so excited as I am off to have a photo session with her next Sunday! Yayhooey!
 Sooner or Later from Dick Tracy. Photo courtesy of Ataahua Pinups*
 I love this because I really look like a drag queen, which is the whole idea! :) Photo by Ataahua Pinups
 Don't Copy Me, Lady Gaga from, er Evita? ;-) Photo by Ataahua Pinups
This one is truer to the actual colour of my coat. Photo by Ataahua Pinups
I will do a post about my costumes and hair soon, promise!
*Ataahua means Beautiful in Maori, the indigenous language of New Zealand, which isn't actually Elvish ;-)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Random Make Friday!

This new gimmick of mine is the perfect excuse to go back and cover projects I didn't do justice to the first time.
A perfect example is The Laurel dress, originally made in 1909 for Lady Maude Warrender, and the inspiration for thousands of costumiers since, thanks to Janet Arnold.
Arnold's meticulous pencil drawings were our inspiration.
Leimomi The Dreamstress actually made the dress, I just did the leafwork, which I covered here and here. But I never showed you the outcome, just linked to it. The Dreamstress has a whole fab page of pictures, but here are a few that really show off the detailing, which I filched from the page linked to:
 This photo shoot is in the old Dominion Museum Building, now a part of Massey University's Wellington Campus. It was the museum of my childhood and I can still remember the smell, the awe inspiring grandeur, the crazy kiwi banisters and the Egyptian Hall. All very old hat by today's museum's standards, but it was a magical place to me.
Our detailing worked out very delicate, like the original pencil sketches. It was such a surprise to me to see and handle the original at the Museum of London, which is loaded with sparkly gunmetal sequins and is very dark and dramatic.
 A good close up view of the corded applique,and velvet trim, all couched in metallic embroidery threads. Source
Our version is closer to the original than many around, but what fascinates me is how the inclusion of this one dress in Arnold's Patterns of Fashion book has made it the default inspiration for probably most of the "Titanic era" ballgowns and tea gowns since. It is a testament to her work that her books are the go-to texts for so many historic recreationists and costumiers. I wonder what other dress she may have decided to cover instead? This one was settled in a cosy archive box with a beautiful wedding dress from the same era, for example.
I thoroughly enjoyed developing the techniques to embellish this gown and I hope one day to take on somethig even more challenging to work on in collaboration with another talented seamstress like the divine Dreamstress!