December 17, 2012

The Importance of Being Earnest

So, the wonderful performances of "The Importance of Being Earnest" are over, the costume pieces are soon to be sorted and put in their appropriate boxes, and I will share a few of the stories of how we put some of the outfits together for this show.

Lady Bracknell's first outfit combined a number of items that have been used before.  From Our Town - lace blouse, black skirt with flounce, black jacket - and from An Ideal Husband - black hat onto which we had stitched a black feather boa.

I added a huge flower, ribbon bows, and a couple of birds to the front of the hat.  We changed the big front button and added some trim to the jacket cuffs, and used the underskirt that she also wore in her second outfit.  I made a matching reticule.

The jacket for Lady Bracknell's second outfit was one of the few pieces that was made new for this show.  The gold fabric was a duvet cover, and the moss green fabric was a scrap from my stash.  Patty did a masterful job of it.  We also made a matching reticule.  What looks like a skirt is actually a sleeveless gown.  This is the first time we used that particular hat.  It had some lovely feathers on it, and Annie added some foofs made from the two jacket fabrics.

Cecily's gown was kind of a surprise.  I hadn't planned to use a dress with rather garish 20th century orange and green flocked flowers for an Oscar Wilde play.  But when the dress came out of the storage box on the way to pulling other dresses out, it immediately spoke, well actually it yelled, "I am Cecily!"  We made a long-sleeved, high-collared blouse out of a sari scarf to change the style to be 1890s instead of 1980s.  And also added a second flounce to lengthen the hem, widened the belt with more trim so it became waisted instead of empire.  This was sewn and embellished by Nora.  The hat was last seen in Our Town.  We added a bit of the orange ribbon to bring the two pieces together.

Gwendolyn's first outfit was a remake of Meg's party dress from Little Women.  You can read Annie's story of the creation of Meg's gown here.  This time, Annie raised the sleeves to the shoulders, narrowed the underskirt considerably, made lower sleeves, and changed the trims.  And then, she made a reticule and embellished the hat to match.    

We were able to use one of the outfits from An Ideal Husband pretty much as is for Gwendolyn's second outfit.  We added more flowers and poofs to the hat, and used the one fancy reticule that we already had.  
And, on to Miss Prism.  We used a blouse and skirt that we'd used in An Ideal Husband, plus the matching capelet which we'd used in Our Town, and re-trimmed one of the hats used in Our Town to match.  


And now for the gents.

Mostly, we used pants and jackets that we already owned.  They wore the attached, round-cornered collars that we originally made for Our Town.  To be stylish and proper, everyone also needed a vest.  We bought (resale shops of course) several women's vests because these have the higher v-neck shape and more buttons that the era required.  Sometimes, the vests ended up being a bit short on the guys - the butlers kept their jackets buttoned, and Jack wore a cummerbund to cover the waist area.  I made ascots and matching pocket squares and some new bow ties.

For Lane the butler, pictured at the top of this post, we changed the red buttons and covered the red piping edge that originally decorated the vest.  

Algernon's jacket also got new buttons, replacing modern-looking cream plastic ones.  And he has a matching cranberry hatband on his boater, which doesn't show here.  The vest is one that was acquired for the Moliere one acts show last spring.

Jack's funeral outfit included a morning coat last seen in Little Women.  He wore one of the new vests, and we put a black silk drape on a top hat.  Happily, miraculously, we had a pair of men's black dress gloves that fit him perfectly.

Jack's casual suit was more problematical.  We wanted to dress him in lighter colors when at his country home, but we had a nearly impossible time finding something that fit well.  This jacket and the pants, were a last minute resale shop find, just 4 days before the show.  Thanks, Nora!  The vest was one of the new women's vests.  Originally, it had a high round neckline and zipper.  I removed the zipper, re-shaped the neck, and added buttons and buttonholes.  It's a lovely gold and navy tapestry, a little hard to see it well in this photo.

We changed the buttons on Dr. Chasuble's suit jacket and yet another of those new vests, from splashy silver to plain black ones more appropriate to his position.  We bought a regular black shirt.  I removed the collar, leaving just the collar band, and made a clerical collar which snaps on.

And here's our delightful cast in their curtain call tableau.

More photos of these costumes "in action" can be seen on the Thin Ice website.  And my previous post shows how I sketched out the costumes while planning this show.

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