What the Costumer Sees: The Brothers Grimm Wednesday, Mar 24 2010 

This is one of my favorite movies about a dress.  I went to see it in the theater- the dress I mean.

So as to be copyright kind, here is a link to the movie on the IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0355295/

A google image search is a good idea if you want to see more of the dress.

The movie- I remember pretty vaguely, but the dress!  Oh yes, I remember it clearly, and even made a replica to wear to a risque costume party the following New Year’s Eve.

The beauty of this movie is that it gives us a variety of takes on the same dress.  The gown shown in most of the photos is the deep red crushed velvet.  The film also shows us the same dress, but as a wedding gown in white.  And, even more of a challenge, it shows us the same gown with years of distressing.  The crown is shown several ways as well- including a rather fantastical version with two quilted gown protruding Medieval cones coming out of it.  Love!

I am of the fervent opinion that costumes have an obligation to inspire.   I love a film that inspires us to reach father, think broader and move forward.  This dress fits all of those bills!

We have:

Fit and Construction-

The fit of such a crazy as this dress is key.  The Actress needs to wear 3 versions of it, and move and fight in it, and it is very broadly low cut.  Before the embellishments go on, and the sparkles start there is a well made foundation constructed.  It is the fit of the dress that sets the stage, and this appears to be done very very well.

The construction is  detailed.  Look at the number of different fabrics that went into the dress.  Each fabric had to be found, purchased, and in one version aged considerably.  That is three times each, not just one pretty dress worth.  Fit is a big concern, too.  So many novice seamstresses think that boning a garment is the same as properly fitting it- so untrue.  This dress has a bodice fit so well that the front can be unlaced to the waist!  More impressively, the under dress is cut down to the waist, has pleated sleeves that flare but don’t cover her hands, and a collar.  Not just a regular collar, this is a self standing spiked collar of embellished sheer fabric that stands up- even while the entire front of the shirt has no closures whatsoever.  An open front to the shirt means that the fit of the armseyes and the back of the dress had to be close enough to hold the collar of the separate shirt in place.  Now, that is fit!  It takes skill to know that how the armseyes fit will effect how a collar stands- color me inspired.

The top of the sleeves particularly fascinate me.  Those are open beaded!  When I tried my hand at it I didn’t have a fitting assistant, so I strung beads onto elastic thread and attached it across the top of the sleeve.  It was a pale comparison to the original, and I have been sewing professionally for over 20 years.   If the size is wrong on the top of a sleeve you can’t raise your arms- so I give full respect for the fit of the sleeves when it is made of openwork beading like that.

Then there is the crown- the several different versions of it.  It is a bold choice to not go for pretty- and instead take a design element and push it, then push it farther and then continue pushing.  The versions of the crown totally embody that design bravado.

It all adds up to a dress that fulfills the obligation to inspire!

What the Costumer sees Friday, Mar 19 2010 

For years I have engaged in lively conversations about how sometimes I am watching a movie about a dress.  Oh, because I do!  Yes, yes I do.
I see clothing in a totally different way than my sweetheart does.  I see fit, construction, appropriateness to the situation, over-design, under-design, and a wide variety of things.  I can find an absolutely horrible movie completely fascinating and divine if the costumes are good.  Heck, if the set decoration is good!  (I should post about the movie with the flowers)  He sees the weaponry, the fight choreography and a wide variety of other things that I don’t perceive.  Even more fun, get a room full of costumers together to watch a movie.  We will cry out in unison at the more ridiculous clothing choices, and have the ability to thoroughly enjoy discussing what each person sees in the subtleties.

I am of the fervent opinion that costumes have an obligation to inspire.  The wording for my long held belief was given to me in an article about the (then upcoming) second Matrix Movie, in I think Newsweek, but I am not certain now.  The designers said specifically that after the reception of the first movie that in the following films they felt they had an “obligation to inspire”.  Hooray for that!  I love a film that inspires us to reach father, think broader and move forward.  I am extremely disappointed when I feel that a film misses a chance to do that.

If a  costume is easy to replicate, boring,  overly simple or doesn’t fit well?  It is pretty likely to piss me off!  If there are many in a film like that?  There is a good chance I won’t like the movie- or at the very least it will be mocked accordingly.